we stand on the periphery

We should weep as we watch our society regress into the pre-Christian Greco-Roman/pagan
view of the world.

David Roberston


(Laocoön and his sons, also known as the Laocoön Group. Marble,
copy after an Hellenistic original from ca. 200 BC.
Found in the Baths of Trajan, 1506.)

It’s no secret that I ardently follow and read the words and observations of two very
different, yet actually very similar, clerics who both happen to live in the UK.
One is a Free Church Presbyterian Pastor in Scotland the other is a former Chaplin
to the Queen and former Anglican priest,
who now happens to be Bishop of the Christian Episcopal Chruch.

They are evangelical, conservative, orthodox, traditional–clerics of two vastly
different denominations yet both are much more similar than they are different.

I’m not sure as to whether either man is familiar with the other but I would suspect
that they have some sort of knowledge of one another as each man has had his
fair share of attacks by a more liberal press for holding to and freely voicing a
strong Biblically rooted Christian faith.

When it comes to defending the Christian teachings, neither man is afraid to
take on MPs, authors, professors, reporters or other clergy members.
They are each, in their own right, true defenders of the faith.

They are both very learned men and well read.
And they can certainly hold their own and not think twice nor bat an eye when
it comes to professing the Truth as it is met with every form of attack and or assault.

I admire that in them.

They do not buy into the feel-good dribble being passed off in so many churches these days
as a modern take on Christianity—that when stripped and pared down to the bare bones,
it is nothing more than the self-proclaimed gospel of the individual verses
the Gospel of the Risen Christ.

In Christianity, there are some very hard truths.
Truths that we in this 21st century of ours have grown unable to stomach as we find them
difficult as well as uncomfortable and therefore intolerable to acknowledge or accept.

Jesus did not come into this world to pat us on our heads and tell us of the marvelous
job we are doing.
He did not come to applaud our half-hearted efforts nor the notion of ‘if it feels good,
it is good’ nonsense.

Jesus came to save the sinner.
And the sinner is each one of us.
Each of us is at fault.
If you don’t believe that then your ego is bigger than your very soul.

Each one of us falls short.
Each one of us needs a savior…if not saving from the world…saving rather, from our
very selves.

The fact that our culture is not progressing, as we so often quip with our labels of post
modern progressivism… but rather, in actuality, we are regressing…
Regressing back to a time of self-absorption and intolerant barbarism as we live
our lives preferring the paganism of a myriad of self-created demi-gods to the One True God.

We are slowly becoming what we so smugly deemed of those in the past as primitive,
ignorant, egotistical, ancient and primal.

Hedonistic is the better description.

I am encouraged knowing that there remains those who continue to speak the Truth despite
the world’s desire to dispel it.

Whereas those of us who hold steadfast to the Christian faith know that the battles
continue to rage, the war has already been indeed won—
Yet we may still weep as we take stock of the battles we are beginning to fight.
As fight, we must.

https://ashenden.org

https://theweeflea.com

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead,
and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of
teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist,
discharge all the duties of your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

Christian how are your defenses?

“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.”
― George Washington

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Winston Churchill

DSCN0548
(Rock of Cashel / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Christian how are your defenses?

Do you lock your doors?
Do you lock your car?
Do you lock up your bike?
Do you have a security system?
Do you have a chip in your pet?
Do you have security cameras?
Do you have security for your phone, your laptop, your car?
Do you have insurance protecting your property?
Do you expect your bank to protect your assets?
Do you expect the FDA to protect your food?
Do you expect your bill of rights and constitution to protect your speech, your vote, your way of life?
Do you have police and sheriff departments protecting your city and town?
Do you have a military protecting your nation?

Yet do you defend and protect your faith?

Oh you say you don’t see the need?

You say you pray, that’s enough?

What about worship?

What if that was invaded, threatened, taken…away?

Have you ever worried that going to church could be taken away, stolen, lost, destroyed…?

Are you willing to fight for your beliefs?

If you defend and protect everything else in your life, why not your faith…

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?

Psalm 94:16

Stranger in a strange land

And she bore him a son, and he called his name Gershom:
for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Exodus 2:22

DSC01132
(Mrs. Bluebird peeking outward / Julie Cook / 2015)

Have you ever traveled to another country where you did not speak the language?
Immediately upon arriving, jet lagged, tired, disoriented, all previous thoughts
of being ok and of easily getting by suddenly evaporate. Overwhelmed, you stare bleary eyed and lost.
You immediately sense your differentness. A rising sense of panic works to consume you as you feel conspicuous and vulnerable. Uneasiness, dread, foreboding race to devour your remaining sense of wellbeing—-all this transpires in the span of the first 30 seconds upon arrival, all before you can slowly breathe, getting your bearings and allowing common sense to quell the rising panic.

As a Christian, I am beginning to feel that same sense of rising of panic, disorientation, and sense of alienation. I feel as though I am no longer welcome in my own country. . .for I am a stranger now in a very strange land. I am ridiculed and scorned for my beliefs, my faith. I choose to believe in the Bible and what I consider to be the true Word of God and yet I am told to get with the program, come to the 21st century. . .I am told not to be so archaic, stop believing in mythology and fairy tales. I am told that I do not have a right to believe what I believe because it is preposterous, unbelievable, not all inclusive–as my beliefs seem to have limits, it appears my beliefs are saying “no” to certain lifestyles and choices.

. .I am reminded that this is not a time for an either or sort belief system for we are now a people who are all about “it’s all good” and “it’s all ok” sort of life. Tolerance, where is my tolerance I am asked.
Where is my love and acceptance of all. . .

Yet my faith, my beliefs, state that I am to believe in the Word God, the One true God—there is no waffling, no balancing act, no grey areas. . .either I believe or I don’t. Not in little demigods, not in things, not in man, not in little parts or snippets of His word while disregarding others. . .but rather I believe in an Omnipotent God. There is to be no rewriting of His word in order to set things as the world would like things to be written.
His word was stated and set eons ago. . .
there is to be no changing, no rewriting,
no updating to modern times. . .no redo. . .

Yet I am told that my thoughts, my beliefs, my faith are all no longer acceptable.
It’s all outdated, passé, cliche, no longer relevant. . .
Change or be changed I am told.
I must no longer adhere to the mumbo jumbo.
The courts will have their say.
They’ll show me.
They will tell me that I can’t believe.
Television tells me I can’t believe.
Their shows will prove I’m wrong.
Movies and music will all show me.
Step aside I am told.
We don’t want you here.
You can’t pray here.
You can’t say “Amen” here.
You can’t talk about Jesus here. . .
You’ll be fired, removed, shut down, sued, or even beheaded if ISIS has any say.

Bad things happen.
Earthquakes, calamities, tidal waves, tornadoes, floods, volcanos, blizzards,
natural as well as man made disasters. . .
I am asked where is my God.
How dare he allow such suffering. . .
Why doesn’t He stop the madness, the chaos?

But wait, I thought I was told He doesn’t exist, we don’t have room for Him, I was wrong for my belief in Him. . .
We rewrote Him, I reply, remember. . .
We made Him smaller.
We made Him our own.
We didn’t want to be transformed into His likeness, we wanted, rather, to transform Him to our likeness, our image, our idea, our ideal. . .

Hear the words of the ancient psalmist. . .

“You have rebuked the insolent;
cursed are they who stray from your commandments!”

Psalm 119:21

And hear now the words written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while he was a prisoner in a Nazi death camp awaiting execution. . .the writing was to be a manuscript written of his reflection of Psalm 119. . .

God hates the insolent, those who despise the Word of God and the faithful. Pride before God is the root of all disobedience, all violence, all irresponsibility. Pride is the root of all rebellion and destruction. Confronting all pride and insolence, however, is a fearful warning, of which the proud themselves comprehend nothing but the faithful do: it is the gospel. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). The cross of Jesus Christ, which shows that God is with the weak and the humble, is God’s rebuke to the insolent. They may achieve victory over all human beings, but against God they will come to nought.
Whoever believes in the gospel sees the Word of God hanging over the insolent of this earth. The preaching of the Word of God is the only serious rebuke to a humanity grown proud. But along with his Word, God has also given sign of his might. In the midst of history, here and there, God’s rebuke can be seen, and the community of the faithful look with shuddering and amazement at the proud, who even now in their time fall and are destroyed. They are kept from any hypocritical certainty, however, because they see that innocent people are always destroyed along with the proud; and so the visible judgements of God remain hidden and obscure even for the faithful. Only the Word remains incontrovertibly clear when it pronounces its curse on the godless: “Cursed are they who stray from your commandments!” In the laws it says ” Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them” (Deut.27:26). Can we speak this word without being convicted by it ourselves? Is it a word only for others and for ourselves? The curse upon the transgressors of the law of God is God’s right and. . .

Bonhoeffer’s words of his manuscript break off at this point. . . he never finished the manuscript. . . on April 9, 1944 he was executed on the direct orders of Adolph Hitler, exactly two weeks before Hitler committed suicide.

The psalm ends. . .Turn from me shame and rebuke,
for I have kept your decrees.
Even though rulers sit and plot against me,
I will meditate on your statutes.
Fro your decrees are my delight,
and they are my counselors.

A stranger in a strange land indeed. . .

Truth and Love have always won

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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(a delightful little bowl of color on a bleak January day / Julie Cook / 2014)

It grows ever apparent that faith, the beliefs held by those who strive to live the Word of God and profess the victory of the Resurrection, continues to swirl in the murky waters of political correctness, appeasement, self righteous indignation, ridicule by both big media and the entertainment industry, as well as from the sense of many that it is all quite passé and irrelevant in this age of glamor, glitz, high tech, new fangled, ego filled, self indulgence, and the endless pursuit of self fulfillment.

Covenants and laws proclaimed long ago and most far away seem to have little if any bearing on the living large lives which now seem to be the current trend of the world. The endless consumption of placating food, drink, sex and drug all in the name of “If I want to, I certainly can” continues leading to a path of self destruction which is sadly unrecognizable by the masses. The vortex of self gratification relishes sucking in soul after soul with little if any realization that this is not a positive situation.

Governments vie for control of global markets, as world leaders continue to demonstrate personal bad behavior, claiming that what is done in private, is no one’s business, all as they roll toward the quest of becoming demigods. Terrorism, that overt selfish fanaticism of an alarming growing number of depraved individuals, continues to hold the world at large hostage. The freedom to worship a monotheistic God, which is not so free, no longer is a priority as the smaller gods of technology, entertainment, self, and money all jockey for control.

All of this while the keepers of the Faith are lulled into acceptance. “Don’t rock the boat” the lies are slickly whispered by the insidious ancient foe, “you might as well get on board because it is simply now the way of the world”—“be quiet, don’t say anything because the backlash is tremendous” —“it’s all too old fashioned you know, those antiquated beliefs or yours”. . .”you, with that Faith of yours, are all wrong for having those beliefs of yours, in fact you are no longer entitled to your beliefs because they run counter to the way of this country, this world, this new age. . .

Sounds all rather bleak and Orwellian does it not? Sounds as if you would prefer not to think about it, to turn away, to pretend it doesn’t exist. Why should you bother, just ignore it and hope it will go away, just leave me alone, you say, in my ever shrinking world–

Ok.
That is your choice, your prerogative. But the world, with its current ways, is not going away. It will continue telling you that you are wrong and it is right. Masses will rise up against you. You will be mocked and ridiculed until you decide to be quiet.
Don’t argue.
Don’t disagree.
Maybe it’s ok, you wish upon yourself. Maybe they are right you reassuringly question.
It’s just all too grey, not well defined. As long as people are happy then it’s all ok is it not?

Is it?

Hear the words of Martin Niemöller spoken in a different time and place:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.