be not conformed…Christian max vs Christian lite

“A God without wrath who brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment
through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

Richard Niebuhr


(Bonaventure Cemetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2016)

Hoopla versus stable
Facade versus reality.
Fanfare versus forthright
Worldly versus Godly…

The window is narrowing as two views are set on collision course of utter devastation…
and I am on the side of the narrowing window.

I caught a portion of the rousing speech, aka sermon, offered by the American cleric,
Bishop Michael Curry, during the ‘Royal Wedding’ extravaganza.
I was saddened as well as disheartened by the fact that a wedding ceremony,
which is an outward symbol of a Sacred Union—a reflection
of the marriage between Christ the Bridegroom with his bride The Church,
was joyously transformed into a puppet show of a cultural shift of thought.

Not that any such public spectacle would or could dare retain the level
of reverence that should be afforded to such a ceremony…
as many of you would berate me over what would I have expected…
and no, I did not expect anything more, but one can only hope…

Gone from the Anglican Chruch is the reverent full bow to the Sacred as all
has been long replaced by the cultural genuflect toward the embrace of all things secular.

Rather than holding a young couple accountable for the seriousness of their union set before
the eyes of God, as they each snickered at the citing of their vows,
this wedding was a mere media spectacle conducted by a long since lost crown and
an equally lost church.

Yet our good friend and former Chaplin to the Queen, Bishop Gavin Ashenden, has offered us his
keen reflection on what was once a sacred ceremony of a Christian religious observance
which has now sunk into the abysmal decay of cultural hedonism.

May we, the faithful be mindful that we have been instructed not to conform to
the world but that we must be set apart…

Michael Curry & the Royal Wedding. A star-turn offers the world ‘Christianity-lite’.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good,
pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

a vision of Lent

“Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in
my seventy-five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

dscn2555
(Bonaventure Cemetery /Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook 2016)

Lent…
giving up
sacrificing
doing without
fasting
denial
hard
difficult
arduous
abstinence…

But what is it about this Lent…this entering into the desert…
this time of isolation and self denial….
What brings us here?
Why are we here at this crossroads…
Where is it that we are now bound…
What will be the point of this…
longing,
introspection
and intent of focus…

As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs.
We see his blood as he dies.
We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.
He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were,
in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you.
His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind:
as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you,
so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.

St. Augustine

img_0373
(detail/ painting by Julie Cook)

a vision of Lent

“Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in
my seventy-five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.”
Malcolm Muggeridge

dscn2555
(Bonaventure Cemetery /Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook 2016)

Lent…
giving up
sacrificing
doing without
fasting
denial
hard
difficult
arduous
abstinence…

But what is it about this Lent…this entering into the desert…
this time of isolation and self denial….
What brings us here?
Why are we here at this cross roads…
Where is it that we are now bound…
What will be the point of this…
longing,
introspection
and intent of focus…

As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs.
We see his blood as he dies.
We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.
He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were,
in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you.
His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind:
as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you,
so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.

St. Augustine

img_0373
(detail/ painting by Julie Cook)

love itself….

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places;
but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief,
it grows perhaps the greater.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

dscn2483
(Bonaventure Cemetery / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2016)

“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me,
I saw the sin of them.
Jesus Christ had died for this man;
was I going to ask for more?
Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….
Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than
on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges,
but on His.
When He tells us to love our enemies,
He gives along with the command,
the love itself.”

― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

Apostasy

“There is no broader way to apostasy than to reject God’s sovereignty
in all things concerning the revelation of himself and our obedience…”

John Owen

dscn2502
(Bonaventure Cemetery / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2016)

Apostasy, from the Greek word apostasia, means “a defiance of an established system or authority; a rebellion; an abandonment or breach of faith.” In the first-century world, apostasy was a technical term for political revolt or defection. And just like in the first century, apostasy threatens the Body of Christ today.

To fully identify and combat apostasy, it is important that Christians understand its various forms and the traits that characterize its doctrines and teachers. As to the forms of apostasy, there are two main types: (1) a falling away from key and true doctrines of the Bible into heretical teachings that proclaim to be “the real” Christian doctrine, and (2) a complete renunciation of the Christian faith, which results in a full abandonment of Christ.
gotquestions.org

“Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the Lord,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin

Isaiah 30:1

The cross

The whole life of Christ is the cross. And the more spiritual progress you strive for, the heavier will your crosses become, for as your love for God increases so will the pain of your exile.
Thomas à Kempis

DSCN2556
(Bonaventure Cemetery / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2016)

There will always be many who love Christ’s heavenly kingdom,
but few who will bear his cross.
Jesus has many who desire consolation, but few who care for adversity.
He finds many to share his table, but few who will join him in fasting.
Many are eager to be happy with him; few wish to suffer anything for him.
Many will follow him as far as the breaking of the bread,
but few will remain to drink from his passion.
Many are awed by miracles, but few accept the shame of the cross.

The cross, therefore, is unavoidable. It waits for you everywhere.
No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it,
for wherever you go you take yourself along.
Turn where you will–above, below, without, or within–
you will find the cross.

If you willingly carry the cross, it will carry you.
It will take you to where suffering comes to any end, a place other than here.
If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load,
though still you have to bear it.
If you try to do away with one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one.
How do you expect to escape what no one else can avoid?
Which saint is exempt?
Not even Jesus Christ was spared.
Why is it that you look for another way other than the royal way of the holy cross?

Thomas à Kempis

The choice in decision…for it is indeed a choice…stands before you each and every day you open your eyes to each new morning…
Will you forgo your comfort, your smooth road, your ease for which you prefer living…
all in turn to heed His beckoning, His calling, His desires for you?

You want to say yes.
Your lips easily and readily form the word…
Yes
And you want to follow, really you do…

Sorrow verses joy
Hardship verses ease
Pain verses suffering
Culling verses gathering
Isolation verses abundance
Emptiness verses fullness
Denial veres accepting
Uncomfortableness verses comfort

The road less traveled…

You stand in the middle of the decision, the choice,
as you continue staring straight ahead to the cross.
The overwhelming obstacle that cannot be circumvented or ignored
It stands between you and Him
You and Eternity

Are you truly willing to give everything up for Him.

Chances are you are not.

Relinquishing all

We have clothed ourselves with Christ’s grace, with the whole Christ,
so let us spread ourselves like coats under his feet.

St Andrew of Crete

DSCN2529
(a silvery canopy of Spanish moss / Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2016)

No one is ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things. To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go before we lay hold, and in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretence. What Our Lord wants us to present to Him is not goodness, nor honesty, nor endeavour, but real solid sin; that is all He can take from us. And what does He give in exchange for our sin? Real solid righteousness. But we must relinquish all pretence of being any thing, all claim of being worthy of God’s consideration.
Oswald Chambers

Relinquish
To let go
To yield
To release
To surrender

No holding on
No waffling
No balancing
It’s all or nothing.

Jesus beckons…
He calls your name.
He wants you…

Not the pieces…
Not the parts…
Not this or that
Not a portion…

But all…
Of you…

He wants everything…
Every aspect
Every love
Every like
Every dislike
Every hate
Every passion
Every possession
Even…
The darkness
The savings
The wealth
The debt
The stuff that makes you who you are
Your temper
Your joy
Your anguish
Your secrets

Yet are you willing to give Him your secrets?
The things you’re afraid others will see.
That which you hope to hide, especially from Him…
That which you hope to keep hidden…

What of the status, the position…
Your place among others…
What of the security…
The pleasures…
The comfort…
Are you willing to give away that which makes you comfortable?
Stable,
Steady,
Happy…

Are you willing to lay yourself, your entire being…
The good, the bad, the indifference, the naivety, the ignorance, the pompousness…
Everything that makes you you…not only at His feet
But under His feet?

Offering it all
100% of it all
No holding on and no holding back…

To the One who gave His all to you….

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17