a study in tense

From Holy Saturday 2017:

“To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but,
the more I reflect on it,
the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life:
we are still awaiting Easter;
we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust.”

― Pope Benedict XVI, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977

“Bible teaching about the Second Coming of Christ was thought of as “doomsday” preaching.
But not anymore.
It is the only ray of hope that shines as an ever brightening beam in a darkening world.”

Billy Graham

One cannot and must not try to erase the past
merely because it does not fit the present.

Golda Meir


(the beginning cracks of life in the robin’s nest / Julie Cook / 2017)

Past
Present
Future

He was born and He lived.
He died and He was buried.
He rose and He will come again…..

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the
body ruled by sin might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead,
he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives,
he lives to God.

Romans 6:3-10

can’t go back…lessons from the road

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slips away
Cause your baby is so far away.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with
Don’t be angry, don’t be sad,
Don’t sit cryin’ over good things you’ve had
,
Lyrics, The Isley Brothers


(the main stairwell in the Biltmore House / Ashville, NC / Julie Cook / 2020)

About a week or so ago,
I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that I had cared for sick grandkids who in turn,
unintentionally, gave me their sickness.

It seems that germs just love to travel and share themselves.
Just like the song by the Isley Brothers, you gotta love the ones you’re with…
germs will love any and all… whoever they are with or even near.

But this is NOT another post chattering on about coronavirus or the flu or any other bug.

This post is rather about adventure…
Or better yet…this is a post about lessons.

In that previous post, I had made mention that we had had a little impromptu adventure
while trying to escape all this unrelenting rain…

About two weeks ago, we were sitting in the house… sick and tired of sitting in the house.
It had rained for almost the entire month of February.
It was our wettest February on record.

Let’s get away” I proclaimed
My husband agreed.

We threw some things in a bag and headed north.
About a 4-hour drive north.

It had been years since we’d visited the Biltmore House
and thus that would be our destination.

We opted to stay at the Inn on the property,
spending the following day visiting the house,
then we would drive around the mountains before heading home.
Short and sweet.

And most importantly, it was minus the rain.

But then there was the snow.

However, let’s back up 40 years.

Back in 1980, I was a college student who had no real feel for what I wanted to do with my life.
I thought I knew.
I thought I had known.
I wanted to work with kids.
I wanted to write.
I wanted to work in advertising.
I wanted to meet a nice boy.
I wanted to get married and I wanted to be a mom.

I bounced back and forth between each different course and college major that were
more or less, a flavor of the day regime.

I have written about this journey when I first started blogging.
It was about how I finally made my way into teaching.

It was the summer of 1980 when my angst and turmoil finally came into focus in the
middle of the mountains of North Carolina.
Specifically, Black Mt., NC.

I had taken a job at a Christian summer camp for girls as a camp counselor—
Riflery Director oddly enough.

I spent my summers working at the camp until I graduated and made my
way to my first teaching post.
It was a position that would last 31 years.

So before we set out on this little adventure,
I asked my husband if we could drive over to Black Mt,
find a little inn for a night and spend an afternoon
wandering the little town before going to see the camp.

Knowing how important this place once was to me,
he knew he was now simply along for the ride.

When we started out from home on this northward drive,
we took an off-the-beaten-path route.
Many two and four-lane roads avoiding much of the interstate.
Crossing over into NC from Georgia, just before entering the Nantahala forest,
I caught sight of a homemade sign perched along the side of the road…
sitting boldly in plain sight.

It was a conversation bubble sign.
One conversation bubble read: “God, why won’t you send us someone who will help us?
The response bubble read: “I did, but you aborted them”

A powerful thought to chew on and get lost in while driving.

Our visit to the Biltmore was brief but enjoyable.
It had been meant to be our diversion,
a brief respite from our temperate rainy winter.

But then…it snowed.

The snow was pretty as it gently covered the mountains.
It was a gift from the relentless rain we had left back home.
Soft and silent.
White and muting.
A fitting and tender offering.

The small town of Black Mt. is about a 15-minute drive east from Ashville on I-40 or about
20 minutes via Hwy 70.

It was my home for several summers…a place that had left
and indelible mark upon my heart, soul and on the person who I would grow to be.

My former boss and dear friend, the camp’s director, had passed away several years away,
leaving the camp to now be run by two of his sons.

I had been very close to the older of the two boys.

At the time, he was instrumental in the growth of my Christian faith.

He was one of those individuals who you knew had a relationship with
Christ that transcended both time and space.
There was a depth not normally seen in “normal” Christians.
There was a mysticism.
There was a sense that He was privy to something that was not experienced by many others.
It was so much greater than…

There was a diligence to his faith.
A detachment from the world, yet done so graciously and most willingly.
It was a relationship that had been tried in a furnace…
a furnace so hot that it had burned away all the dross.

It was a relationship that I marveled over from afar.
A relationship that I wanted yet always felt as if it was just beyond my reach.

During that time, I had also become close friends with another counselor.
She and I both were attending the same college,
however, we had not met until our summers working at camp.

She was a hungry and joyous Christian..strong and uncompromising in her faith.

The three of us became quite the trio.
I earned the name slugly…the questioning one who always seemed to be
lagging a step behind.
The one who still had the one foot in the world.

Despite my now almost manic positive spin on life,
I carried a heavy black cloud.

Most often my friend and I both felt like students sitting at
the feet of a master teacher as we learned so very much from our older and wiser friend.

His had once been a hard and rough life.
We were fortunate to have met him long after the darkness.
We were the grateful recipients of the light now shining through him.

Yet as life would have it, we remained as close as we could,
as our lives simply took us each on different journeys.
I married first, followed by our friend then finally my fellow counselor friend,
found her true love.

Three different states, jobs, children, and life, made the years race past with less and less contact.

What might I find after 40 years?

I felt a sense of heaviness and nervousness…a journey of trepidation.
The excitement of what might be was shadowed by both what was and what
had passed.

I knew that the camp had grown and even changed.
A boys camp and also a climbing adventure camp has become spin-offs of the
original girls camp. Things were much larger and not as intimate.

Billy Graham was the camp’s neighbor, living on the neighboring mountain top
and Montreat College was less than a mile up the road.

Graham was now gone but the college was still there having, like everything else,
grown and expanded.

We drove up from the what was once a sleepy mountain town that has since boomed
into a buzzing home to artists, breweries and eclectic eateries–
a top NC mountain must-see travel destination crowned by all things southern
and travel, Southern Living…crowned as one of America’s most charming small towns.

I pulled into the familiar hemlock lined gravel drive leading up to the main house…
and that’s when I stopped the car for the briefest of moments before quickly deciding to turn around…
simply driving back to town.

Just like that.

With all that growing anticipation and wonderment I felt during our drive from home…
in the end, I knew that the girl who had spent her summers in this small part of the world
had, in the end, moved on.

I decided to drive back leaving what was.. simply to be.

Later that evening, once back in town,
we started walking the couple of blocks from our Inn to the trendy new restaurant
that had been recommended to us.

While walking rather briskly, shielding ourselves against the bitter cold,
a group of college-age young folks fell in line behind us on the sidewalk.

All we could hear was ‘F’ this and ‘F’ that as they weren’t but
a few steps behind.
There were no filters, no restraints, no consideration for our obvious older ears,
that was for sure

They were loud and raucous, cursing as if uttering simple words in conversation.
I turned and smiled while giving that knowing look of
“hey, consider the other folks in your surroundings
as your language just might not be suitable let alone appreciated
by those in such close earshot.”

The loudest gal in the group just looked at me, not missing a beat
with her profanity-laced chatter.

Thankfully they veered off to head into one of the local watering holes
while we kept walking.

Aggravated by the thought that the one place I had always held somewhat sacred
and somewhat protected,
as it had been just that for me all these years ago, was now just like any other place invaded by
a youthful, progressive left-leaning, mindset as I saw many a Bernie, pro-choice, coexist, and all
things feminist stickers stuck on the cars parked along the sidewalks.

With the crisp mountain air now laced with cigarette smoke, the sweet scent of weed and stale beer,
I could feel my shoulders slump just a tad.

There was now a heavy dose of melancholy and irony found in being just the other side of
Ashville…the home to the great writer, Thomas Wolfe…

Wolfe was right you know…we can’t go home again.
Home is never the same.
The then is no longer as it is simply the now.

I was clearly reminded that our home is truly not of this earth.
Our peace will not ever be found here despite our constant searching.

For we are indeed strangers in a strange land…
We seek a home where we know our hearts will finally be at rest…
it is our life’s innate quest really.
Seeking a home that is beyond that which we have known…a home
that is eternal and somewhere just beyond those mountains I once
considered my haven of peace.

I think that’s what my friend had known all those years ago…it just took
me forty years to figure it out.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,
which wage war against your soul.
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,
so that when they speak against you as evildoers,
they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:11-12

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

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

Sophocles

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

Troubling, yet most interesting.

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

As in… if I deny it, it isn’t real.

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

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

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

she said last May according to the Texas Tribune.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 4:18

doves, hawks and the passage of time…

I guess my biggest failure was not getting re-elected.
And I learned two things; one is that you ought not to ever let
American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them.
I did the best I could, but I failed.

Jimmy Carter


(Prime Minister Chamberlain, upon his return to England on September 30, 1938,
holding the Munich agreement bearing his own and Adolf Hitler’s signatures.)

Are we the same world we were 82 years ago?

Obviously not.

Is that a bad thing?

Not at all.

Did we learn anything from Neville Chamberlain’s pipedream of brokering peace with Hitler?
When voices, such as Winston Churchill, were those proverbial lone voices in the desert,
calling out and proclaiming the actual truth.
The world chose to ignore such truthful warnings…and the results were disastrous.

Neville Chamberlain was what some would call a dove—a person who would rather
negotiate or bargain before ever considering conflict or war.

Churchill is what some would call a hawk.
They thought him to be a rable-rouser and one to beat the drums of war.

Yet perhaps most preferred wearing the rose-colored glasses of the doves.
We wanted to ignore trouble.
We wanted to think others thought like us.
We wanted to believe that the words of other people mirrored our own.

Yet in the end, we learned the hard way.

What of 1979?

Are we the same America we were 41 years ago?

No.

But is that a bad thing you ask?

In many ways, I think that perhaps it is.

In 1976 we celebrated our bicentennial.
American pride and patriotism were both at their highest since WWII.

We had come out from under the heaviness of the Civil Rights movement as well
as the angst produced by the Vietnam war.
The Summer of Love had come and gone and people seemed to
be regaining their senses.

I was soon headed off to college.

I was a news junkie even back then, so that hasn’t changed.
My dad and his older brother were both news junkies up to the day they each died.
My memories of my grandfather, their father, is of his constantly reading the newspaper–
even when the family was gathered for weekend retreats at the family farm in North Georgia.

Current events, world happenings, foreign policy…have always been in my blood.


(political cartoon from 1979)

The above political cartoon, which is rather crass, is one I actually had in a
scrape book saved from college.
It was a current event of the times.
I also have several news articles and political photos in that scrape book…
Images of Menachem Begin, President Carter and Anwar Sadat all locking arms following
the longed awaited peace accord, as well as articles regarding the later assassination
of President Sadat.

I had deeply admired Sadat—

I had known how he had cut his teeth as a young Muslim soldier,
having been on an opposing side of the Allies during WWII.
Later he was a chief military leader bent on fighting Israel.
As the ranking Egyptian general turned President, he called for
the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

None of that should be things that would ever endear such a world leader
to the likes of someone like me but it was because of
those very things that mixed with the actions of his later life that
would indeed leave a lasting impression upon me.

He began what appeared to be odd strides to reach out to Christians—
both Evangelical and Catholic.
He had a vision and seemed to know what he had to do to make it work.

When he had come to visit the US in late 1975, he personally asked Billy Graham to come
meet with him. Later he reached out to the Vatican, inviting Pope Paul VI to visit Egypt.
He seemed to understand the importance of having Christian support when considering
making peace with Israel.

And it was that vision and desire for peace that eventually got him killed.

Back then in those late years of the ’70s, even my art produced in my classes focused on
what was happening in the Middle East.
It seems that way back then, I knew the importance of the West’s relationship
with the Middle East.

Being a history major for more than half of my college life,
I was more than aware of the importance of the Middle East dating back to the time
of the Crusades and as a Christian…well we all know about that link.

Last week, I wrote a post where I recalled the Iran Embassy Hostage Crisis.
It cost Jimmy Carter his re-election.

Iran seems to remain a thorn in our side.

Recently we’ve been witness to a rising crescendo, in oh so many months, from Iran—
They have been personally responsible for a multitude of US military deaths.
They have been very vocal in the rankling of anti-US rhetoric—
And now we have the recent attack by Iran on an embassy that was actually sitting in a
neighboring nation.
We have a precarious and deeply troubling relationship with what was once
considered the land of Persia.

And so I found it most interesting that just the other day, our friend the Wee Flea,
made an interesting prediction on his blog regarding the US and Iran…

Quantum 75 – Predictions for 2020

In the past, David’s Quantum 75 predictions have been pretty much on the money…
I somehow fear this one will also come to fruition.

In the link that David provides to the BBC article regarding US / Iranian relations,
I found the following quote telling given that it was offered days before the bomb strike
killing the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani—

President Trump has threatened Iran after blaming it for Tuesday’s attack,
in which no US personnel were injured. Mr. Trump tweeted that Iran “will pay a very big price”
for any damage or loss of life. “This is not a warning, it is a threat,” he said.
But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded by saying the US “can’t do a damn thing”.
Anti-American sentiment was widespread in Iraq, he added.

The President later offered the following tweet after the storming of our
Embassy in Iraq by Iranian interlopers:

Replying to @realDonaldTrump
….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost,
or damage incurred, at any of our facilities.
They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.
Happy New Year!

It appears the President kept good on his word.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50966958

The previous President and his administration paid what was, in essence, a ransom–
millions of dollars paid in cash money–primarily under wraps and done quickly.
It was an ill attempt at brokering, or more accurately buying, what was thought
to be peace.

And so we saw, and have now lived with the aftermath, of how futile that all was.

Thus we now have a President who has repeated his warnings.

He first opted for the usual route.

He applied sanctions.
He reached out.
He stated what would be acceptable and what would not.

Then there was an Embassy attack.

It was noted that one of the individuals pictured in the crowd of attackers
had actually visited the White House as a guest of the previous president, Barak Obama.

Since there was very credible intelligence gleaned for future attacks,
President Trump acted…turning his words into actions.
No more payments, no more appeasement.

It was now known that America will no longer play games at the cost of American lives…
despite many now arguing to the contrary.
They have on the rose-colored glasses.

Be you a dove or be you a hawk, you have a president who makes good on his promises.
He puts American interests first and foremost and he also understands that appeasement
does not work.
But that doesn’t mean things will be any less precarious or any less perilous.
For there will always be nations who will hate our ideologies.
Nations who will hate who we are.
Nations who hate what it is that we stand for

And the sad thing, or rather make that the frightening thing, is
that there are now many within our own nation who now join the hatred.

As Abraham Lincoln reminds us, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

And so our prayers continue for the coming days, weeks, months and years.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors
you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 12:2-3

recant no more, just start reading and what the heck is “an influencer”

“We are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20-year-old
worship singers as our source of truth,” he wrote.
“We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern
praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word.”

John Cooper, lead singer for the band Skillet


(a bit of sea lettuce / Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2019)

I’ve been hearing a lot about a single word as of late.
The word is “influencer”

Now granted, I get it, I understand it…as in I know what the word means and all…
however, I’ll offer it as defined through the lenses of the 21st century…

What is an influencer?
An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others
because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.
An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with.
The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.
It is important to note that these individuals are not simply marketing tools,
but rather social relationship assets with which brands can collaborate to achieve their
marketing objectives.

influencermarketinghub.com

Think social media and those who are constantly in some sort of limelight on
FB, blogging, tweeting or news thread.

They tend to be constantly on the web’s airwaves.
Their names, be it in or even out of their circles, are well known.
They’re usually young, trendy, progressive and the majority worship at the altar of the
latest culture gods.

They are liked and followed by the multitudes.
Matters not too much what they’re worshiping…they are liked and followed none the less.

They want to wield power with both their words and their ways…
all because of their choices and their likes and dislikes.

Their whims and fickleness actually have sway with the whims and fickleness of others.

And we must note that this influencer business has been in the news feeds a lot this
past week as there have been some “Christian Influencers” who have very publicly
recanted their faith.

I don’t know about you but when I feel lost and dismayed, I certainly don’t want to
be grandstanding.
Attention, especially public attention, is the last thing I want.
I actually want to be alone.

I don’t want to publicly shout my dismay or sense of shame over a life I only
thought I was living.
I would instead tend to fall into a deep abyss of introspection and perhaps even a bit
of depression.

Yet isn’t that how we are when we feel angry and disappointed by someone we feel
has deeply let us down?
We want to fuss and cuss the cutting sense of betrayal.
And we usually do so very loudly and very vocally…
We’ve been wronged by gosh and we want the world to know it!

And so I’d like to ask…is that what all of this current trend has been about??
This very public angst offered up by a bunch of young Christian ‘influencers’ who are
feeling wronged and let down by…God Himself?

And for what?

I have written about this before but I think the story is more than worth repeating
right about now…

I think we all know of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

You know…
that tiny little white and blue-clad nun who spent her life tending to the
needy and destitute of Calcutta?

Well—-long before she was known as Mother Teresa…
a young Albanian nun who was a member of the Sisters of Loreto out of Ireland
had gone to India as a teacher. It was in 1946 that Mother Teresa experienced what she
would later refer to as a “call within a call”

She was riding on a train heading off to a retreat when she plainly heard, what she
would eventually write, was the voice of Jesus.
He said to her, “I thirst”

Mother Teresa would go on to say that what she had heard was her call within a call…
her ministry was to change, leading to the formation of the Missionaries of Charity.

An order dedicated to caring for the least of the least.

Mother Teresa would toil from 1948 until her death in 1997, carrying out this
call within a call.
She would spend a lifetime fulfilling the need that Jesus had laid upon her heart.

However, it was eventually made public, years following her death,
that Mother Teresa had confided to her confessor that after that initial moment on the train…
she never heard the voice of Jesus again.

She would lament to a deep darkness and palpable sense of separation.
This, as St John of the Cross, would so famously record, was the Dark Night Of The Soul.
A seemingly and almost physical disconnect from God.
A life within a dark empty abyss.

Anguish filled her soul yet no one ever knew of her pain.

It mattered not that she felt a separation of faith, she had been told what to do and
she, in turn, spent the remainder of her life doing it—
despite the personal pain and suffering.
Doubt mattered not, the poor and ailing needed her.

Day after day, she’d spend hours in prayer—yet there was never again that
audible response.
Never was there that internal sense of oneness with God.
Only silence.
And yet Mother Teresa persisted.

There was no public display of angst or resentment.
There was no recanting of her faith due to a silence from God.

She had been told what to do and she remained faithful to her word despite her own sense
of personal loss.

That’s the thing about faith.
It is not based on feeling.
It is not based on recognition or of the feel good.

It can be very difficult and it can be very lonely.
Yet it is full of perseverance and consistency.

I recently read an article about an interview with Franklin Graham, the son of
the Reverend Billy Graham, regarding this recent spate of young Christian “influencers”
recanting their faith.

Graham said he is especially disturbed by Christians who publicly renounce their faith in Christ,
citing a warning from the Book of Revelation.

“(God) warns churches that turn their back on him and these young men who have renounced
their faith have made it so public,” he said.
“Why did they make it so public?
I think they just want publicity.
Otherwise, why didn’t they just leave their faith and just be quiet about it?”

He wondered if the reason why was so that other Christians might join them
and fall away from the teachings of the Bible.

“Shame on them,” Graham said.
“You’ll stand before God one day and give an account to Him.”

We must put our faith in Jesus Christ, not a celebrity influencer.
And when we find ourselves facing difficulties in life,
we must turn to the Bible instead of self-help books.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/todd-starnes-franklin-graham-has-a-warning-for-christian-influencers-renouncing-their-faith

Here is to the consistency of Faith…

“Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits.
It trains the mind to understand them;
it turns man’s attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God.
Two kinds of study are called for here.
We must first learn how the Scriptures are to be understood,
and then see how to expound them with profit and in a manner worthy of them . . .
No one can understand holy Scripture without constant reading . . .
The more you devote yourself to the study of the sacred utterances,
the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled,
the richer the harvest.”

St. Isidore of Seville, p. 201
An Excerpt From
Witness of the Saints

riding a seasonal wave or just waiting for us to die…

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

[Meditations Divine and Moral]”
Anne Bradstreet


(a neighbor’s wanning blooming tulip tree / Julie Cook / 2018)

Still in Atlanta, still playing nurse and grandmother…as our daughter-n-law,
the new mother, is still quite ill…
and as we are all still very very sleep deprived.

This new grandbaby has her nights and days confused…
she is, however, her father’s daughter as I seem to recall having the same problems
with him…

Slowly I’m making my way back to redirecting a little bit of outward focus.

Yesterday in my post I wrote about the disparaging remarks being made about the
now late Christian evangelist Billy Graham.

In that post, I referenced our lovable renegade Anglican bishop Gavin Ashenden’s post
regarding that now very troubling trend of Graham bashing…
of which leads us all back full circle to that of Christian bashing.

I followed that up with a similar observation being made by our friend the Wee Flea
who had also written several posts regarding the recent and ever-growing secular melee
taking place regarding the passing of this ardent Herculean Christian crusader.

I don’t know—but maybe this business about being a new grandmother has resurrected the
sleeping mama bear in me…
Whereas I have been rather glum over the direction I’ve watched our society skirting
these past many months…
I think I am now gravitating back to just being flat out mad.

What type of world are we….we meaning you and me…those of us who are members
of the Faith, what type of world are we allowing to mould and shape our children?

Do we not care that each and every day more and more famous, infamous and
just plain ol folk are taking aim at the practice of our personal Faith and beliefs?
Even that of the very underpinnings of Western Civilization’s foundation—
a Judaeo /Christian base?!

As the attacks grow, we find growing ridicule against our beliefs in God’s mandates—
Mandates such as marriage being between one man and one woman.
Mandates that children are born either male or female—
Mandates that Jesus Christ is the Way and the only Way to Salvation.

Do we not care that those who are considered to be conservative, a traditionalist or
an orthodox member of the faith, those who adhere to the moral fiber of the
Christian faith, do we not care that they are now being considered expendable
and a pariah?

Perhaps we’ve simply decided that it is best not to upset the apple cart…
perhaps being a non-committal, disengaged ostrich, sticking our heads in the sand,
is the best approach to life.
Maybe if we just keep our heads down, ‘they’ won’t notice us.

Does it not bother us that because we seek to adhere to God’s word that we are in turn
ridiculed, attacked, threatened and told that we may no longer believe or
act upon that Word of faith?

Does it not bother us that our rights as Christian believers are no longer the
same as others who are non-believers.

Well…

It bothers me.

It bothers me that boys and girls as young as 6 are considered “mature” enough to
decide if they want to remain said boy or girl.
What does a non-sexually active individual, one who has yet to develop or mature
sexually, understand about sexual orientation?

Boys are boys
Girls are girls…

When did we decide that man was a better guide than God in our lives?

You may answer to the contrary…
You may counter that none of that is who we, the Faithful are…
Answering with a resounding no…that no, we haven’t allowed those things to happen…
And yet haven’t we helped to create this current caustic life…??

Our indifference, our appeasement, our fear, our choosing blindness to the chipping
away at our very foundation…that is indeed the fault of us all.

However, it should be noted that Christians, as in you and I are currently being told that we
may no longer hold our prayers publically…
that we may no longer demonstrate our faith outwardly…
all the while other religions are encouraged by our current culture to bask in their rituals.
Are we not being dubbed as homophobic while being branded ignorant…
all because we believe in the mandates of our God.

And as our Wee Flea friend succinctly points out…
we are now being told that we exist on the “wrong side of history.”
That even Jesus Christ existed on the wrong side of history…
as the demigods of today have hailed themselves the all-knowing wise sages
who are currently attempting to alter and rewrite our history.

Our Wee Scottish friend continues in his latest post with a stinging observation
regarding the current negative coverage of Billy Graham’s death:

“And as there have been many fine tributes to the life and testimony of
Billy Graham, what struck me were the number of people and organisations who couldn’t
even wait until his body was cold before they stuck the boot in.
These reactions tell us a great deal about our culture and churches.”

Billy Graham preached Christ, and he preached the cross of Christ.
He may have been on ‘the wrong side of history’ from the perspective of those who think
they know what that is, but he is now on the right side of eternity where I’m sure he has
already heard the words that all believers long to hear:
‘well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord.
(Matthew 25:21).

So perhaps the question which we must ask ourselves…
are we merely riding a seasonal wave of a series of modern-day Christin persecution or
are we experiencing something much more sinister…

Was Billy Graham a homophobic, Christ denying, antisemitic and bigoted failed evangelist on the wrong side of history?

Did the world stop spinning?

Stop the earth from spinning, I want to get off
anonymous


(big sister Alice does believe her world has indeed stopped spinning / Julie Cook/ 2018)

I think it was last Tuesday…
I started a new post and suddenly…life just spiralled away…

It has been spiralling since Friday, February 16th.

That Friday began with a frantic phone call followed by a frantic race to the big city…
racing 65 miles along a busy interstate to a busy metro hospital…
as a first-time pregnant mom felt no movement from her soon to be baby.

Was there a heartbeat…we did not yet know.

The doctors ordered them to the hospital immediately.
The dreaded word “stillborn” was quietly uttered and cautiously mentioned by a
somber doctor.

Tears, prayers and shouting flowed freely…while racing on a busy interstate.

Finally and thankfully the call came…there was a heartbeat.
But I kept racing none the less.
The voice of my own, now grown father-to-be, son was frightened.

And there was a call for urgency for a delivery.

4:15 PM, a week ago Saturday, a loud exhale could be heard rising up from a lone labour
and delivery room.

A week has since passed in what seems to be a gauze veiled haze of weary relief.

A new mom is now ill with fever…
A new dad is a walking zombie…
A new big sister dog is depressed
A new odd inherited aunt of a cat is still an independent nut job
A new tiny princess has been jaundiced and has had to visit the local Children’s hospital
all the while a new grandmother is still on ‘new-life’ duty while toothpicks prop
open her eyes…

So yes, it does feel as if the world has indeed stopped spinning for a myriad of reasons…
reasons which I haven’t even listed…reasons we’ve been living with but matter not much here…

For us, as exhausting as it all has been, it has been a privilege of wonderment to behold.

The post I attempted last week touched on the fact that the world was obviously still
churning onward without me.

All the current worldly worries and woes have not changed.
The News outlets are still rambling on about the same ol same ol.
Russia is still being Russia.
The Olympics have come and gone.
Politics are still a hot miserable mess.
And today is the first day I’ve looked at a computer.

Truth be told, I’ve not missed any of it!

Tending and caring for a new life seems so much more important than any and everything else.

Caring and tending—a focus of caring, nurturing, tending and servicing the needs of another.
What a novel concept.

No fussing and cussing of opposing sides.
No worries about fake news or animosity.
The self-centred world has been refreshingly removed.
The weight from this heavy and angry painfilled world lifts
as the reality of what is real settles in.

I have, however, missed reading and learning…
learning and sharing with and from all of you my learned friends…
yet there has been no time.
And there is very little if any energy.

I did, however, manage to briefly read snippets, in the wee hours,
of those posts offered by our clerical friends from across the pond
regarding the death of Billy Graham.

I am obviously of the age to clearly remember the televised Billy Graham crusades.
However, I never did attend one in person…
Being an Episcopalian and a committed Christian, I never felt called to
attend a crusade, but I did enjoy watching his televised “sermons.”

In college, I worked at a Christain girl’s summer camp.
The camp was the neighbour to Billy Graham’s North Carolina home.
We never saw him…but his presence was always felt.

Both our friend the Wee Flea, David Robertson,
the pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in Dundee and our loving renegade
Anglican Bishop Gavin Ashenden each made note of the famous Evangelist’s passing.

Bishop Ashenden, in his post concerning Billy Graham,
noted the mixed reviews regarding the death of this 99-year-old soldier of Christ…
comments expressing both sorrow as well as sarcastic vehemence.

The good bishop actually cited a rather nasty comment by a contributing editor for Teen Vogue.

“The big news today is that Billy Graham was still alive this whole time.
Anyway, have fun in hell, bitch.”

Lauren Duca

As a very exhausted new grandmother…
who has experienced some rather low lows and some soaring high highs in the past 10 days…
a grandmother who is marvelling in the life of this new granddaughter—
a little girl who will one day find herself exposed to such things as Teen Vogue…
I am left absolutely baffled by such a caustic comment.

Running out to Target, in order to pick up some baby necessities…
I actually caught a glimpse of the most recent cover of the latest edition of Teen Vogue…

Is this the type of message we want to offer our young girls???–
“resist we must”

Resist what?

The world?
Our society?
Our history?
Resist who we were meant to be?

Resist…
meaning…we must be rebellious vs peace giving,
we must be defiant vs compromising, yielding, giving, offering…
we must be obstinate vs diplomatic…
we must be hate-filled vs kind and loving…
we must be militant vs confident
we must be all that is opposing what God originally intended…

My son, during the course of these past 10 days we’ve spent together, has voiced his anguish
for this new daughter of his…
his anguish over the future of a young woman caught in the growing maelstrom of worldly confusion.
What is to be her future—
A world where Christianity is condemed while secularism rules?
A world where the word Conservative or Orthodox or Tradition is scorned, ridiculed and even
hunted down…???

I echo his concern…

May we continue to hold onto the promise we have been given…

So do not fear,
for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

A study in the contrast between Political and Pneumatic Christianity in the light of the life and death of Billy Graham.

a study in tense

“To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but,
the more I reflect on it,
the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life:
we are still awaiting Easter;
we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust.”

― Pope Benedict XVI, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977

“Bible teaching about the Second Coming of Christ was thought of as “doomsday” preaching.
But not anymore.
It is the only ray of hope that shines as an ever brightening beam in a darkening world.”

Billy Graham

One cannot and must not try to erase the past
merely because it does not fit the present.

Golda Meir


(the beginning cracks of life in the robin’s nest / Julie Cook / 2017)

Past
Present
Future

He was born and He lived.
He died and He was buried.
He rose and He will come again…..

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the
body ruled by sin might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead,
he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives,
he lives to God.

Romans 6:3-10

tick tock

“Bible teaching about the Second Coming of Christ was thought of as “doomsday” preaching.
But not anymore.
It is the only ray of hope that shines as an ever brightening beam in a darkening world.”

Billy Graham

wells-cathedral-clock-dial
(Wells Cathedral Astronomical Clock 1386)

Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote a post about the Doomsday Clock and of how precariously
close mankind sits to the dreaded midnight hour…

You can find that little post here:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/3-minutes-til/

And maybe it’s because we are in the first month of this new year that the keepers of this said
Doomsday Clock are back in the news again with their latest gloom and doom forecast.

Back in the news with an update which merely emphasizes the fact that most news outlets,
along with many an individual,
are each of the mindset that the US has just narrowly dodged a major bullet of total annihilation
following the election of Donald Trump…
So maybe that’s why the demise of mankind is making headlines again,
as the said clock keepers have moved the hands a half a minute closer to total obliteration
of the human race…
all because we just held the inauguration of a new president…

Hummm…

It seems that we are now poised at 2.5 minutes until midnight.

You may read the latest article by the BBC here:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-38760792

Not only is the world protesting and marching and turning on itself,
the clock keepers of the end of life as we surely know it have also now jumped into the fray.

So just when we thought we might actually survive an election then an inauguration….
those seemingly all knowing soothsayers have decided that we aren’t too likely to
survive the next four years.

Hummmm…

However it appears that I am not the only curious soul out there who’s
interest has been piqued over the news outlets and their desire in sharing the
prediction of our humanly demise…
The Scottish pastor, David Robertson, also recently mused over the topic on his Wee Flea blog.
His musings took him back to the writings of John Newton as Newton drew parallels
reflecting in a letter he wrote in 1777 to a politician regarding mankind,
earthy rulers and the Divine Providence of God….

“I have lately read Robertson’s History of Charles V, which, like most other histories,
I consider as a comment upon those passages of Scripture which teach us the depravity of man,
the deceitfulness of the heart, the ruinous effects of sin, and the powerful,
though secret, rule of Divine Providence, moving, directing,
controlling the designs and actions of men, with an unerring hand,
to the accomplishment of his own purposes,
both of mercy and judgement.

Without the clue and light which the word of God affords, the history of mankind,
of any, of every age, only presents to view a labyrinth and a chaos;
a detail of wickedness and misery to make us tremble,
and a confused jumble of interfering incidents, as destitute of stability,
connexion, or order, as the clouds which fly over our heads.
In this view, Delirant reges, pectuntur Achivi
(The Kings go mad and it is the Greeks, their subjects, who are punished),
may serve as a motto to all the histories I have seen.

But with the Scripture key, all is plain, all is instructive.
Then I see, verily there is a God, who governs the earth, who pours contempt upon princes,
takes the wise in their own craftiness,
overrules the the wrath and pride of man to bring his own designs to pass,
and restrains all that is not necessary to that end;
blasting the best concerted enterprises at one time,
by means apparently slight, and altogether unexpected,
and at other times producing the most important events,
from instruments and circumstances which are at first thought too feeble and trivial
to deserve notice.

John Newton 1777

Pastor Robertson sums up this latest henny penny the sky is falling,
as in the end is near clamoring, as such as he reflects on the words of Newton:

Instead of reading the bible through the eyes of history and contemporary politics,
the Christian has the great advantage of being able to read history and contemporary politics
through the eyes of the bible.
In effect, our current cultural/political commentators are like those who are looking through
a telescope the wrong way round.
Maybe its time we all got a sense of perspective?

David Robertson 2017

And so whether we are hours away, minutes away or knocking on the very door of our complete and total annihilation…there is one, and only one, who knows the timing of such and that is the One
whose hand waved us into existence in the first place…
therefore, be not afraid….

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows,
not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,
but the Father only.”

Matthew 24:36

finding a faith stone through the dark times

“…in our willful desire to live independently of God, we have severed the lifeline that flows from the source of all life”
Billy Graham

DSCN0438
(Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There are no exemptions in this life when it comes to difficulties, struggles, trials and conflicts.
Some are self imposed, some are random and some, for the believer, can be most vexing…
for it can often feel as if God has…
walked away,
deserted us,
or…
is proving to be more stubborn than ourselves.

Some periods will be more severe than others and there is certainly no clear window as to how long or how short such episodes will each last.

There will be times of great dryness…a rough patch of road that leaves one feeling empty…
or better yet, feeling nothing at all, as in void of feeling or emotion…
A sense of isolation, depression and emptiness…

Other times there will be the feeling as if the rug has been pulled out from under foot …
As one is left wondering if facing one more moment, let alone one more day, is even possible…preferring simply to throw in the proverbial towel while gladly giving it all up.

Maybe it’s seasonal…
What with these long cold winters of shortened days, limited light, constant gray, heavy clouds, cold rains, blanketing snow and a never ending feeling as if one can never get warm.

Maybe its the long hot summers of endless days, excessive heat, dry barren ground that becomes brittle to the touch..leaving one and all the only option of slowing down to a crawl in order to preserve energy while hoping to sweat a little less while praying for a cooling breeze to quench the fire .

Maybe life has simply dealt a wicked hand.
Tragedy has struck,
illness prevails,
and loss is paramount.

Or maybe it’s as if one has been left to simply bam ones head against a wall…as in the wall isn’t budging and neither are we. Frustration has taken hold and we are stuck in our dead-end tract of never-ending madness.

Whatever the reason, life is…
hard and difficult,
frustrating and tiresome,
sad and often unbearable…

I was offered some wise counsel yesterday from a dear friend—which I hope he won’t mind that I now share…
In our conversation my friend offered up an interesting perspective as to when we find ourselves in the midst of struggle and suffering…

“sometimes its better to go back to the last place you encountered God in a mighty way
in your life and use it as a marker….
When Moses parted the red sea and the children of Israel crossed over, the first thing they did was build a stone altar there and gave thanks to God for their deliverance…
So it is with us….
When God does something in our lives and we know it was Him, it is a marker…
A faith stone that repairs our hope in troubled times.
It is good to remember that place and a good starting point to carry on….”

For me that moment, that mile marker , when I knew that I had encountered the Omnipotent I AM, was during my fall trip to Ireland…I think we all have a myriad of moments throughout our lives, but for whatever reason we may simply miss the significance, write it off as mere happenstance, or we may have felt so dreadfully barren for so very long that perhaps it feels as if it were the only real true encounter we have ever experienced….

So my marker, my road of Damascus moment, was one September evening in Ireland.

Yet to literally re-vist that very moment in order to restudy, review, re-live that exact moment in time is impossible, impractical and far from feasible…

It is impossible for me to fly back over, gather those 3 particular friends together again on that lone September evening, at that exact restaurant table up in County Donegal…it is impossible for me to have that exact same conversation which lead to the words being spoken that shot into my mind and heart like a hot arrow piercing my very soul…unleashing the overwhelming sensation that time was standing still and I was suddenly alone with God.

It was all of a second, maybe two, for those words to be uttered and in turn to be heard…
however it seemed much longer as each word reverberated throughout my entire being…

Whereas I may not be able to actually re-live that amazing turning point, it’s not impossible to recall those three life changing words….
“Be at peace…”
“Be at peace with your God”….

Yet it was the first three words of that simple sentence that knocked me and my current world upside down.
Yet…the words were not for that night…not then…

Those simple words which were offered over dinner were not intended for that moment…not for a moment that was indeed peaceful as four friends enjoyed a good meal and drink, with good conversation in an ideal setting.
For that particular moment was of peace itself…

It was to be later when I would need to revisit those words.

As I have needed to do so this very week.
As well as last week and mostly likely next week and the many weeks which lie ahead.
Life is that way.
Life has a way of sucking out the very life of one’s being.
It can be hard.
It can also be joyous as well…
yet frustratingly those joyous times are often forgotten as one is wading through the hard with the muck of madness clinging to one’s boots.

So yes… it behooves me to remember my marker.

Three words….

Be at peace….

Thank you my friend for reminding me to find my marker, my faith stone and to return to that place where God had made His presence known….