Shepherds—please, lead your flocks

I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless
the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold,
my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way.

St. Jerome


(sheep farm, Killarny Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Firstly—- I read the following July 4th post written by our freind and
most knowledgeable Christian sister IB.

As I read it, I felt warm tears falling down my cheeks.

I too have most recently deeply felt her words.
A sense of pleading that our Chruch leadership does what they are entrusted to do…
that being to lead their flocks—come hell or high water.
Not cower in the corner of current ideologies…

A day later, I read a post by our dear friend and former Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden..
A post that mirrored IB’s thoughts and words but simply written from across the pond.

I’ve cut and copied both posts here.
I hope their words will touch your spirit.

We Aren’t going to “Get Our Freedom Back…”

So listen, I don’t want to sound uncharacteristically somber and serious,
nor do I want people to think I’m a total conspiratress.
I am you know, I do love a good conspiracy theory.
The problem being this isn’t a “theory,” it’s simply common sense.
So, I just want to say, those who are waiting patiently for things to “get back to normal,”
it ain’t happening. It ain’t going to happen.

Those who seem to believe if we just comply enough, just cooperate enough,
just do everything they say, (wear your mask you idiot,
so we can all open back up again) it ain’t going to happen.

If you’re waiting for covid 19 to go away, it ain’t going to happen either.
We could get down to no cases anywhere and there’s another “pandemic” right around
the corner waiting for us.
The media is already on it.

Government and public health officials are already trying to say we’re going to have
to wear masks for years, certainly until we get a mandatory vaccine.
Besides, flu season is coming this fall…

Never in the history of ever has anyone in government voluntarily relinquished
power over others that they have managed to attain.
The only way to get our freedom back is to stop playing the game,
stop the charades, and stop buying into the fear.
We have to say “no,” and we have to say it somewhat collectively.
None of this can continue without our consent.

I’m pleading with Christians who are just sitting there quietly accepting
a ban on singing in church. C’mon on people, some part of you knows this is not okay.
The power of life and death is in our tongues, it says that in the Bible.
If we believe those words, if the singing we do actually means something,
then we have to realize that shutting down churches, mandating we all wear masks,
and telling us it’s too dangerous to sing our praises, are all huge red flags.

I’m pleading with everyone who has ever felt the “benevolent” hand of government,
anyone who still carries trauma from those experiences.
C’mon people, we all know what this is.
It smells just like history trying to repeat itself.
It’s a power play.

We flattened the curve!
Heck, we shut down unused field hospitals and laid people off from our hospitals.
We did not get our freedom back.
We shut our businesses down, we bought the hand sanitizer,
we put on the masks, and we stayed home and we still did not get our freedom back.
It ain’t going to happen. Freedom once taken is not something you just “get” back.
There will be no passively sitting around and waiting for our freedom to be politely
returned to us once we’ve met all the requirements.

We met the requirements. So they just moved the goalposts.
They will continue to do so.

We aren’t going to “get” our freedom back, like it will just be passively
and nicely returned to us based on our compliance. That is a big lie, a total deception,
and has never happened anywhere, in the history of ever. Frankly,
I’m a bit embarrassed people still believe that. Not even God Himself,
and He is Holy, just, and perfect, just “gives” us freedom.
He may open the door to our prison, tear down the walls, and coax us out,
but even then we have to walk out under our own steam.
Or crawl.
Whatever works.
The point being, it is extremely rare we ever get anything without first opening
our hand and reaching out for it.

Jan 22, 2020, is when all of this began in my state.
We are going on seven months now! 7 months. A quarantine is for the sick,
not the healthy, and it should last about two weeks.
To quarantine the healthy is simply tyranny.

Such notions often put me at odds with friends, family,
even some churches. The problem being, I know I’m right,
I know that everything I see points in the direction I am observing.
We get our freedom back when we stop voluntarily consenting to hand it over.
That easy, that simple.

Happy Independence Day!
https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/we-arent-going-to-get-our-freedom-back/

The State, freedom of conscience, and civil disobedience.

The state and the Church have a history in our country.
The relationship status might read “it’s complicated”.
It ranges from the conversion and Christianization of the state to the deepest antipathy
of the State and its persecution of the Church.

Even when Christian, the Church has had to challenge the state.
Becket took on Henry 2nd and won. It cost him his life, but he won.

Thomas More took on Henry 8th. It cost him his life.
While he won the moral argument he lost the legal and political one.

The narrative in this country is of course set in the far wider and more
complex contest for a system of values fought in a variety of states
with a variety of aspects of the Church.

Glancing from the dynamics of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar,
through the Maccabees up to Bonhoeffer and Hitler, Solzhenitsyn and Stalin,
the contest for setting the values by which human beings live,
across states and cultures, defines one of the most powerful narratives in human history.

The pendulum swings from benign to malign.

In our day we are moving with some speed towards the malign.
Any reading of 20C history demonstrates a three-cornered fight between
two totalitarian ambitions, Marxism and Fascism, and Christianity.
All three make absolutist claims on humanity that are irreconcilable.
The anaemic relativism of our decaying culture in the West disguises
the sharp and brutal quality of the contest.

Christians are rightly wary that the in 21st C there is no reason for thinking
that the contest has been suspended. Fascism’s toll of Christians (and Jews)
in Germany and Spain was horrendous but dwarfed by the toll wreaked
by the Soviet Union and Marxist China.

In each period of attrition, the sign that the struggle to the death
had begun was the control of Churches and worship by the authorities.

The beginning of this century has exposed the oncoming depth and intensity
of a cultural revolution of values that are inimical to the faith in the west
and suddenly out of nowhere, for medical rather than political reasons,
the state suddenly closes the churches and prohibits worship.

There are three patterns of Christian response.
The first is the highly secularized and spiritually incompetent one, which says,
“places don’t matter; your private thoughts are everything,
corporate worship is overrated.
We are not worrying about the implications for a weakened church losing financial
and philosophical traction becoming ever more bankrupt in both.
There is nothing to see here, move on, don’t fuss.”

The second response, more literate historically but still
underdeveloped spiritually says “yes it’s a terrible sign that that the churches
have been down unilaterally. Yes, it looks authoritarian and apocalyptic,
but check out the facts. It was a pandemic.
It was medicine and science, not politics.
Calm down.
Nothing to worry about.”

The third group is more inclined to the view,
“if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck,
it may well be a duck”.
There is no value free science; everything has a political dimension;
more importantly, everything has a spiritual temperature,
character and metaphysical flavour or dynamic.
Whether there was intentionality or not, the state took upon itself the right
to close churches, prohibit worship, and deny the autonomy of personal
choice and informed conscience. And although this was a temporary measure (it seems)
it set a precedent which should have been exposed, challenged and repudiated.”

This is not the place to argue that the science on singing, water droplets
and infection is contested, as is the nature of the virus itself.
But it is the place to make common cause with Lord Sumtion and vociferously claim
that civil liberties require us to make a distinction between those who want to withdraw
from public life in order to protect themselves in a situation that is scientifically
and medically ambiguous, and those who chose to take certain risks congruent with a
personal value system and the dictates of their conscience.

It is the place to say that Christians do not recognise the power or authority of
the state to prohibit gathering for worship in ways that are not
medically or scientifically lethal or antisocial.

It is the place for insisting that the bar that state has to cross to
outlaw worship, close churches and outrage Christian conscience is considerably
perhaps impossibly higher than the secular state recognises.

It is, therefore, a legal and moral duty for the Church to challenge
the jurisprudential and ethical authority of the state to have set a precedent
in the authoritarian closing of churches and prohibition of worship.

It is for this reason that Christian Concern and a number of Church leaders
(amongst whom I am the least) have issued a challenge to the government by means
of judicial review to test the legality of this programme of church closure.

Further, if the legal challenge should be lost, many of us believe that Christians
could argue that we had a moral and ethical duty to refuse to acknowledge
the legitimacy of unjust law that not only acted as a threat to civil rights
and liberties that our forebears fought so hard to defend, but also struck
at the heart of our religious, spiritual and moral allegiance and identity.
https://ashenden.org/2020/07/06/the-state-closure-of-churches-and-civil-disobedience/

Bats, civets, pangolins oh my…

“And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time,
it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others;
for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always
the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the
characteristic truths of another.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


(PHYSorg)

Faces only a mother could love…right?!

Or maybe a zoologist or a chiropterologist, or a butcher in a wet market in Wuhan…
or perhaps a people with some serious tastebud issues who frequent said “wet” markets…

Wet markets are just that, wet.

Think fishmongers, chicken farmers, duck farmers, eel farmers, scorpion gatherers, exotic
animal farmers…all buying, selling, butchering, gutting, scaling, bloodletting, preparing
right there together on top of one another while waters, bloods, entrails, feathers, scales, guts
skin all slosh and run together underfoot.
Oh, did I mention all the animal excrement mixing in as well?

Ahhh, the aroma… but do watch your footing lest you slip in the toxic slime.

Some of these tasty morsels are actually illegal to buy, sell or trade…
even by Chinese standards…let alone eat.
And yet…this melange of illness and destruction is allowed to continue.

Such markets are a toxic and deadly cocktail just waiting to happen.

Next, let’s throw in a virology lab also located in Wuhan, China

So tell me, do these animals look appetizing to you?


(The Guardian)


(zoo chat)

I didn’t think so.

These critters may be somewhat cute in their own distinct way and yet for some, they
ring of tasty delicacies.
But this affinity for forbidden foods coupled with a worldwide pandemic
have an odd connection—of which is simply not as cut and dry as it may seem.

The simple excuse is that someone ate a bat, or a civet, or a pangolin and in turn got coronavirus and
so now the world has coronavirus…well that cause and effect just doesn’t seem to hold water.

It’s not a simple case of Colonel Mustard in the study with a candlestick sort of cut and dry.

According to an article from The Guardian,
Prof Stanley Perlman, a leading immunologist at the University of Iowa
and an expert on previous coronavirus outbreaks that have stemmed from animals,
says the idea the link to the Wuhan market is coincidental “cannot be ruled out”
but that possibility “seems less likely” because the genetic material of the
virus had been found in the market environment.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/15/how-did-the-coronavirus-start-where-did-it-come-from-how-did-it-spread-humans-was-it-really-bats-pangolins-wuhan-animal-market

Yet an even more telling tale of breadcrumbs leading to the root of the current evil that is
circumnavigating the globe is found in an article offered by the National Review

It seems that there is a certain Dr. Shi, aka China’s ‘bat woman’,
who has been studying bats and their diseases…
diseases such as SARS and Coronavirus for over a decade.

It seems that this particular lab earned one of the highest world standards
for the study of immunology and viruses—all but for the section of the lab where
Dr. Shi works.
A high rating is a notch in the belt for China– showing the world that China
is a world stage contender when it comes to the study
of immunology and viruses.

Yet Dr. Shi’s portion of the lab received a far lower safety standard rating.
Meaning it is not as stringently regulated as other parts of the lab.
Think a bit more loosey goosey.

According to a very interesting article from The National Review,
“Some scientists aren’t convinced that the virus jumped straight from bats to human beings,
but there are a few problems with the theory that some other animal was an intermediate transmitter
of COVID-19 from bats to humans:

Analyses of the SARS-CoV-2 genome indicate a single spillover event,
meaning the virus jumped only once from an animal to a person,
which makes it likely that the virus was circulating among people before December.
Unless more information about the animals at the Wuhan market is released,
the transmission chain may never be clear.
There are, however, numerous possibilities.
A bat hunter or a wildlife trafficker might have brought the virus to the market.
Pangolins happen to carry a coronavirus, which they might have picked up from bats years ago,
and which is, in one crucial part of its genome, virtually identical to SARS-CoV-2.
But no one has yet found evidence that pangolins were at the Wuhan market,
or even that venders there trafficked pangolins.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/coronavirus-china-trail-leading-back-to-wuhan-labs/

Now one thing we all know, or those of us with any sort of historic sense, is that Communist
nations, and yes even former Communist nations, have never been on the up and up with pertinent
worldwide implication information…

Think Chernobyl…but I digress.

In the mind of China’s Communist Government, it might not be prudent to its world standing interest to
admit a major mea culpa, as in a “my bad” that we kind of let something get out of a lab of ours
that was not exactly of the highest standards.
Rather, let’s blame a nasty farmer’s market and call it a day.

So it might behoove all of us who are now locked down, sick or disrupted to demand China
take responsibility–as well as question why both the US and Canada have provided funding
to such a lab.

More questions than answers if you ask me.
Both articles are very telling and worth your reading.

conspiracy musings

“All that happens is as habitual and familiar as roses
in spring and fruit in the summer.
True too of disease, death, defamation, and conspiracy—and
all that delights or gives pain to fools.”

Marcus Aurelius


(apple blossoms /Julie Cook/ 2020)

Now you should know I don’t believe in aliens.

No area 51…no code blue book.

And I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts…

But… I do believe in spiritual warfare…
meaning…demons/evil and angels/heavenly are defintily real.

However…

The jury remains out on this whole virus business.

Where are the real power players during all of this?
Have we heard from George Soros?
Hillary or Bill?

Where are those who believe they wield world power and domination?

It does make for intriguing thoughts while one is confined to quarters going on
now nearly 5 weeks, with a houseful of demanding family.

China seems now almost giddy.
Free and ready to rally en masse.

All the while our stock market rides a daily roller coaster and our
fellow Americans “screw” one another to the wall over essentials such as toilet paper
and Lysol.

To mask or not to mask…that is the question.

How does such a virus make such rounds in such a short and narrow window?

There is a southern county in our state that has experienced some of the highest
numbers of cases and deaths.
It is not near a metropolitan area, yet it has maintained a consistency with Fulton County,
home to Atlanta…

It is all so strange and surreal.

And is it not odd that we may readily go to and from various stores and businesses
albeit at qued distances…yet our houses of worships, are deemed by law, forbidden?

If ever we needed a church to open its doors to those who might wish to pray
or simply sit and ponder…it is now!

Yet faith and the observance of such is suddenly deemed non-essential.

Oh the irony in such thinking…

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart,
but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer,
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:22-24

keep calm?

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows,
it empties today of its strength.

Corrie ten Boom


(my extent of “prepping” for our latest cirises/ Julie Cook/ 2020)

The market has crashed.
Our savings have suddenly taken a nosedive.
Our life’s savings have shrunk drastically, if not totally having disappeared.
All in the course of a few hours on a Monday morning.

Thanks to Russia and Saudi Arabia…

Italy is closed for business.
Forget the impending Holy Season of Good Friday and Easter.
Forget your favorite olive oil, pasta or historical wonders.
News flash, the Pope has a cold.

China…

Well, China is a bad word…in more ways than one.

South Korea and North Korea…typhoid Marys…

Delta is canceling flights left and right.
Grocery store shelves are reminiscent of an impending snowstorm,
let alone the ending of the world as we now know it…

But remember, you just lost your life savings in the crashing market…
therefore you can’t afford the grocery store’s price gouging on things you really don’t
normally need.

And whatever you do…
DO NOT TURN ON THE NEWS!!!!!!

Do you remember the days following 9/11?

We were told to prepare.

We were told to put together a “survival” kit.

We needed to fill a plastic tub with:

Duct tape.
Duct tape should be used to seal all windows and doors in case there was a dirty bomb.
Duct tape, as a saving grace from nuclear annihilation, who knew?!

Water.
Because our water systems would be targeted.

Freeze-dried foods.
If there was a run on grocery stores, supply would not meet demand —
Should a catastrophe ensue, our food sources would be targeted.

Cash.
Because there would be a run on the banks and the Government would
shutter the bank’s doors in order to protect the markets…in turn,
you’d not be able to get any of your money.
But remember, you don’t have any money because the markets crashed.

Flashlights and batteries as power grids would be targets.

Old fashion radios because communication would be limited due to destroyed
power grids.

Batteries– to power our now old school technology.

First aid supplies since we wouldn’t be able to leave the house should we need care.

A bottle of bourbon.

That was my addition—

So fast forward to today…
Each morning I’m blessed to wake up, I’m hearing more and more about doomsday reporting.

I’m hearing that hand sanitizer is now a rare commodity and so the DYI folks are
offering hacks to make our own.
Think alcohol and aloe vera gel.

So this morning was my typical morning to head to the grocery store for my
weekly shopping.

If I listened to the people, be they the news folks or just friends or neighbors,
I would need to go out and prepare for this latest plague and end of times crisis…

I would need to stock up on bleach, hand sanitizer, canned foods, bottled water,
iodine tablets, surgical masks, nitrile gloves, zinc tablets…

I would also need to grab my mail out of the box while wearing gloves.
All deliveries would need to be put down at the door while I retrieved them while
wearing gloves and a face mask.
And better yet, I should not order anything because chances are everything has
been touched by ‘the infected’.

And so that image up above, well it’s the extent of my gathering.

I saw the sanitizer wipes on an end cap on sale…what the heck, I’ll pick up a canister.
I use them when cleaning up around the cat box.

The bleach… well, spring and pollen are coming and I’ll need to be cleaning down the deck
following the onslaught of yellow powder that will settle upon our world.
Plus we’ve had so much rain, the deck is a giant piece of mildew.

The Oreos you ask??!!

Well, my husband will need something sweet to nibble on should he be stuck
inside a duct tapped domicile due to the impending apocalypse.
No better way to go then while munching on a few Oreos.

And whereas we should always take precautions, as we normally do when viruses or
bacteria such as the flu, West Nile virus, Ebola, Ecoli…
each run amuck, we also shouldn’t ready ourselves to climb out on
the latest window ledge to jump before we are taken out by the latest plague.

Be smart with your health but NOT a henny penny panicker who is listening to the
doomsday news naysayers…folks who actually want our nation to fail and fall apart…

Because yes, there are those who want our Nation to fail…
We need to stay calm while staying smart…

Oh, and by the way…I caught wind that toilet paper is becoming scarce.
Who knew???
Why in the heck there’s a run on toilet paper I have no idea, but supposedly some
shoppers in Australia got into a smackdown over the last package on the shelf.

When I visited my local grocery store today…I’m happy to report that the
shelves were full and there wasn’t the slightest sign of scarcity…
I did, however, pick up a package of toilet paper…
just to be on the safe side…

Because like Kathy over on atimetoshare noted, the Sears catalog has since long come and gone…

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

Philippians 4:6-7

don’t put a squashed pine cone in your mouth…

“the ‘task of the conscience’– a word of great value in Western civilization,
is to determine what that divine purpose is and then to live
it out irrespective of the cost”

observations about Pope John Paul by George Weigel
excerpt taken from The Divine Plan
John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Dramatic End of the Cold War
by Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando

The above image is a picture within a picture…or rather, it’s a still-shot from a video.
And the title is a quote I actually uttered yesterday…
as in, “DO NOT PUT THAT SQUASHED PINECONE IN YOUR MOUTH!!

However, that story will have to wait as I simply needed an
the attention-grabbing title today…
As in I wanted your full and undived attention.

I’ve been spending time with the Mayor and the new Sheriff the past several days,
helping out…and I hate that I’ve not even had the chance to share with you about their
charming encounter with the ocean…
But it seems as if the world has tilted just a bit further off her axis and has needed
a tad more of my attention than merely my chattering on as a doting grandmother
who’s droning on about her grandkids…

But first a quick word to the wise…it is not prudent nor is it wise to pick up a run over
and flattened pinecone and proceed to poke it into your mouth and then bite down…just saying.

But now to the matter at hand.

It seems that there has been a lot of talk as of late…here in the blogosphere, FB
(or so I’m told) as well as on various Christian media outlets about more and more
big-name Christians announcing their seemingly sudden withdrawal from the fold
so to speak.

As in there appears to be a slight uptick in the number of those recanting their faith
all in very public places and on very public platforms.

Odd to want to grandstand over losing one’s faith.
Opting to be vocal and in the spotlight rather than introspective, sad and
living the loss.

Or as IB so aptly noted the other day, in the words of the famous band out of
Athens, GA—REM—grandstanding over ‘Losing My Religion’…

And to be honest…not being one who runs in the evangelical or other
protestant denomination’s circles or one who keeps up with the current mega-church craze,
I can’t say that I’m familiar with many of these recently fallen sheep.

But as I’ve been reading…there is indeed a long, sad, public and very vocal fall
taking place.

I have, however, on the other hand, been a bit more focused on the sexual abuse scandal
rocking the Catholic Chruch as well as the naming of a few notable and now long deceased
Anglican priests whose names have been sullied by the same accusations.

And so as I look out over the horizon of our collective Christian faith—
our denominations far and wide, I can see Satan being very busy as work.

I’ve written about this so many times before that I think I must just be beating my head
against a brick wall but there is a divide and conquer mentality being applied to the
Christian fold and it is being applied fast and furious…
And the thing is… nobody seems to “get it”

I’ve also written that this is indeed a mad world—a mad mad world on so many levels.
Mad as in crazy nuts and mad as in viscerally angry.
We have troubles my friends and I do indeed fret for my darling grandchildren.

The slick lies that are being tossed about fast and loose as truth
from things such as children’s tv and music, to what defines a family, to
legalized murder in delivery rooms, all the way to the odd notion of fluid genders…
it is enough to make me want to grab up my babies and run and hide.

But we cannot hide.

We cannot ignore it any longer.
We cannot turn a blind eye and pretend this isn’t happening.

We are being spoon fed lies as truth.
Lies as legalized truth.

As a once overly zealous teen, when reading the stories of those early Christian martyrs in
places such as Rome and Judea, I would often imagine having been there and how I would have
hoped to have stood up so bravely as those countless men and women who suffered
grievously under torture, mutilation and even death—
suffered almost readily rather than giving in and recanting their faith.

Because their faith was precious.
It was dear.
It was sacred.

Today it seems to be more passe, victimized and tired.

And so when I read of these modern-day Christians recanting their faith
so flippantly and arrogantly, apologizing to the masses of those seemingly innocent souls
who they feel as if they had helped to lead astray, I am more than saddened, I am sickened.

For they have bought into the culture gods hook, line and sinker…
They are now the poster children of a hedonistic and self-absorbed culture…
selling a bad bag of goods to an innocent fold.

There are thousands around this world of ours who continue to die for the Christian faith.
They worship in secret and in whispered tones.
They live in places such as Russia, China, Africa, Myanmar, Yemen, Iran, Iraq…
They love Jesus and are willing to pay the ultimate price for that love.

Their worship is not easy nor is it easy to come by…
not as it is here in the West.

And yet here in the West, we too indeed suffer as well.
It’s just that we suffer on a quieter level.

Our suffering is on a more insidious level.
Our suffering is often more psychological than physical.

We are shunned, ridiculed, threatened with legal action and told we may not utter
the name of God or Jesus as we once did…
Words spoken, along with the right to speak those words, was simply taken for granted.

And maybe that’s part of the problem.
We’ve taken for granted the Precious and the Sacred.
We trivialized our God and made that which is Great, small.

And now Satan is working overtime.

Time is running out.
He knows this.

So, therefore, be not quiet.
Speak up and speak out.
Because it is a mad world…
in all sorts of places and in all sorts of ways…

what are you willing to die for

“You cannot turn me from my holy Faith by threats, nor with promises of riches and pleasures.
I will obey your orders willingly, if you will leave me free to follow my religion.
I would rather surrender my head to you than to change my faith.
I was born a Christian, and I shall die a Christian.”

+ St. John the Russian


(lingering pomergarnite / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2018)

The definition of the word martyr, according to Merriam Webster is: a person who voluntarily
suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion.

When we think of individuals who fit that description…we think of those individuals
who reach out to us from various Biblical tales.
We recall the stories of individuals who were tried and sentenced to death
for their faith in God, people like Daniel in the lion’s den—
or of Mesach, Shadrach, and Abednego along with King Nebuchadnezzar who decreed
having them thrown into the furnace…
We think of the stories of those individuals who refused to recant their belief in
the Omnipotent God.

Stories that are both far away and long ago.

And so in turn, we know from our Biblical history teachings that St Stephen was the first
recorded Christian martyr—
a man who refused to renounce his Christian faith, that of his belief in Jesus Christ…
with the near obvious result being his death…
and in Stephen’s case, it was by stoning.

The New Testament is laced with such stories—the stories of those who
suffered and died for refusing to denounce Jesus Christ as the Risen Son of God.

Yet today when we hear the word martyr or martyrdom, our 21st-century minds focuses in
on radical extremists…radical Islamic suicide bombers who offer themselves,
their lives, in order to kill as many other people as possible.
Not like the Christian who simply stands firm in his or her faith.

Christian martyrs are still being killed worldwide…
They die more or less quietly as their deaths are not publicized or are of common knowledge—
in part because they die in places where news of such is very hidden and or controlled.
Their deaths do not make the papers or the evening news.
Their deaths are not the headline gripping stories of deaths carried out by those who
prefer to kill mass numbers of people due to a skewed faith…

Many in the West, members of the Christian faith along with nonbelievers,
erroneously assume that Christian martyrdom ended with the fall of Rome…
due in part because the deaths of martyred Christians
does not make the nightly news or is not sprawled across the headlines.

The tales of imprisonment, tortures, and deaths of today’s Christians are not on the level
of breaking news as are those of the martyred Islamists because of the flip-flopped
extremist’s view of martyrdom.
Whereas the radical kills hundreds in one act—the countless numbers of tortured and
martyred Christians go virtually unnoticed.

However what we do know is that an Islamic Martyr sacrifices self in order to kill
while the Christian martyr is killed because he or she will not recant their faith…
and often is killed because of an attempt to protect others…
certainly not to harm others.

A vast difference.

Today most Westerners, and again that would be both Believers and non Believers,
does not feel a life or death threat or link to or for any martyred Christians
simply because the notion of a martyred Christians is not currently taking place.
Or at least that’s what we assume.

We aren’t still stoning or curcifying a person because they claim to be a Christian,
are we???

But what many in our society do not realize is that just because we live in an oh so
very modern society, there are indeed places still around the globe where Christians
are being stoned to death and even crucified for their faith despite our thinking
such barbarism disappeared eons ago.

Yet we read of IS and of the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians and
we occasionally hear a word of those who are killed for their faith in places
like North Korea, China, Myramar…but not here we will gloat, not where life
is civilized…right?

Yet what we fail to both see and understand is that the persecution of the Christian
in our Western Society is very much real…. however it is more hidden,
more insidious and quietly more subtle than those types of murders and deaths of those
Christians from either our history books or of those in far-flung regions of the world.

It would behoove us to realize that just because we consider ourselves “civilized” and
above the torture and or persecution of individuals for their Christian belief,
we should stop and take notice that there is one who is very much aware of the fact that
there is indeed such persecution taking place…
as such acts are carried out in a much more hidden and sinister type of execution…
And this individual is much more keenly aware of such…much more so than any human being.
And He couldn’t be more excited…

Abba [St] Athanasios, bishop of Alexandria, said:
“One of you often says: ‘Where is the persecution so I can be martyred?’
Suffer martyrdom in your conscience; die to sin;
‘Mortify your members which are upon the earth’ [cf. Col 3:5]
and you will have become a martyr by intention.

Those [former martyrs] fought with emperors and rulers;
you have the devil, the emperor of sin, for adversary and demons for rulers.
For at that time a shrine and an altar stood before them and an abomination
of idolatry, an execrable idol.

Take careful thought;
even today there is an altar and a sanctuary and a virtual execrable idol in the soul.
An altar, that is luxurious gluttony; a sanctuary, the longing for delights;
an idol, the spirit of covetousness.

the Flea is on fire

“Atheists don’t fly planes into buildings” –
it was a point delivered with all the certainty of a man who feels he has
just delivered a killer blow to his opponent who was in this case,
yours truly.
His ‘point’ repeated thousands of times on atheist and secularist
websites and social media (from whence he had gathered this bon mot)
was greeted with rapturous applause by those who shared his faith.
The response?
‘Neither do Presbyterians…nor Baptists…nor Catholics…nor Anglicans…
not even Charismatics…and in fact neither do the majority of Muslims”.
But for the simplistic worldview of the Atheist Fundamentalist this point is missed.
In their world they put together two and two and make 25.”

David Robertson


(a summer evening’s view of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada / Julie Cook / 2017)

The flea is on fire…
or so it seems in his latest installment of the book review
The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray.
(and may I note that in my past writings regarding Mr. Murray, I think I have inadvertently referred to him as
as “David” rather than Douglas—too many Davids on the brain I fear…
so I have gone back and corrected those previous errors)

I have yet to order my copy…and maybe it has something to do with
my latest book purge taking place at home, but I have every intention of
ordering a copy…as I feel as if the good pastor
has pulled out such tantalizing nuggets, whetting my appetite,
that I can barely wait to begin reading.
For the Wee Flea, with obviously the help of Mr. Murray,
has sounded the alarm as he is acting as that lone voice in the desert.

This part 3 review deals more in the way of the views of the Muslim world and Islam
as through the eyes of Europe—but like I said the other day, why stop at just
Europe…because this book speaks as much to those of us here in the US
as it does to our friends across the pond.

In this latest review, I have actually pulled more of the fiery flea’s words
than I have Mr. Murray’s as Pastor Robertson is spot on in his observations.

“It seems to me that there are those who are so obsessed with hating the Christian background of their own culture that they are willing to ignore or distort the
teachings of Islam –
solely as a means to attack their real hatred.
Or perhaps even worse –
there are those who have such a hatred for the Jews that they are willing to
excuse and even endorse the ideology that wants to wipe them out.
What does Murray argue about Islam?

Firstly he points out that the liberal elites are so determined to show that their
belief that Islam is compatible with Western civilization that they will do
their utmost to promote what amounts to a re-writing of history and a distortion
as serious as those who want to portray all Islam as barbaric.
And they combine this understanding of Muslims as the new oppressed people
(and themselves of course as the Social Justice Warriors/Saviours of the Oppressed)
with their hatred of their own Christian traditions,
by building up the former and demeaning the latter.”

David Robertson

We might consider the fact that here in the US, we are currently reeling, caught in
in the very throws of much of the same mentality,
as we are now witnessing those here in this country who are desperately
trying to rewrite our history as they try, albeit in vain,
to whitewash our past into something that never even existed…
as if erasing the bad will now make everything perfectly good and somewhat of a nonexistent utopia

Add to that our own influx of immigrants, those who are here illegally, as well as
the hundreds if not thousands of foreign nationals who, since before 9/11,
have come into this country from the Middle East, as officials now admit,
that there are countless individuals here who have simply fallen off the radar
and basically have “disappeared into the crowd” as our various agencies
have failed to keep track and account of such individuals.

So no longer are we the proverbial melting pot, but rather we are
a dangerous and angry boiling pot…waiting simply to boil over.

“In fact such is the fear of Islam, or of being accused of being Islamaphobic
that our liberal elites are even prepared to change our whole culture for the sake of accommodating their fears.
“In September 2015 officials in Bavaria began to warn local parents to ensure their daughters did not wear any revealing clothing in public. ‘Revealing tops and blouses, shirts and shorts or mini skirts could lead to misunderstandings’, one letter to locals warned. In some Bavarian towns, including Mering, police warned parents not to allow their children to go outside alone. Local women were advised not to walk to the railway station unaccompanied.”

Mr Murray Page 196

Pastor Robertson continues…
“Even worse than that officials and politicians are sometimes too scared to face
up to the implications of what is going on.
The Rotherham case is the worst example we have of this.
Over 1500 girls were abused because they were white girls and their abusers
considered themselves to be immune of prosecution because of the authorities fear
of being accused of being Islamaphobic and racist.”

David Robertson

And just in case you don’t grasp the serious concerns over the progressive
secular liberal leanings within this current culture of ours, the good pastor,
reminds one and all about the dangers in the rise of such a demigod mentality.

“Secular Liberalism cannot help itself.
It so believes itself to be ‘god’ that anyone who goes against its doctrines
will be banned –
in this respect questioning Islam is on a par with questioning
Same Sex Marriage which itself is seen as being on a par with racism,
genocide etc.
The white Middle-Class guilt complex leads us down some very strange paths!
One of which is that there will shortly come a time when my even writing an
article like this could be considered a ‘hate crime’.
David Robertson

Robertson continues “Murray pointed out in an article in The Spectator that the “popular al-Jazeera star and leading cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi when he said:”

‘Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the believers.’
Douglass Murray

They fail to grasp one of the most essential differences between Christianity and Islam is that Islam is a political system as well as a faith.

Lastly from a Christian perspective I return to the question of what the Lord of history is doing in permitting this ‘death of Europe’.
It could be that it is a judgment – after all Turkey was once the stronghold of Christianity, then North Africa –
and look where the church is now in those countries.
Southern Africa, China and South America will probably be the growth areas for the church in the 21st Century.

“But Europe can still be resurrected….”
David Robertson

Pastor Robertson does leave us with a slight ray of hope.
He muses that perhaps there is still hope for Europe,
as that same hope applies to us here in the US.

He ends his review with the notion that perhaps the influx of Muslims
is but an opportunity to the Faithful to press on in their witness of
the salvation from Jesus Christ…in turn leaving the family of Christian
believers to be the final hope found in the lost sea of mass immigration.

The Strange Death of Europe – 3 – Islam

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:2-3

God’s work

The spirit and the soul are two totally different organs:
one belongs to God, while the other belongs to man.
By whatever names one may call them,
they are completely distinct in substance.
The peril of the believer is to confuse the spirit for the soul and the soul
for the spirit,
and so be deceived into accepting the counterfeit of evil spirits
to the unsettling of God’s work.

Watchman Nee
March 8, 1933


(Gulf fritillary butterfly / Julie Cook / 2017)

God’s work…
that is what this is all about is it not?
That being this thing we call life….

Watchman Nee (1903-1972) was an ardent Chinese Christian Church leader.
He was also a profuse author.
I was first introduced to Watchman Nee and his books when I was in college
by a friend who was a bit older and had lived and weathered more of life than
I had up to that point.

Nee is not easy to read, for me at least,
In part because of the sheer depth of his faith.
as well as because much of his work spans the course of a century
that was full of great change.
It is as if one is reading the words of a mystic.
Deeply spiritual, deeply profound.

I have ebbed and flowed over the years with Nee.

Nee’s words have resurfaced recently in my life…
at a time when such words have not only been needed but most certainly
welcomed.

My road as of late has been difficult as I’ve watched my already small family
shrink even smaller. Losing the shoring piers to a heart that is being
battered and tested.

I remain consumed by what all it is taking to get dad’s life, post dad,
to a place of management.
The legal and financial aspect is simply daunting.

Add to the loss of dad, coupled by this organization and bureaucratic nightmare,
the untimely death of my aunt…a death seemingly so sudden.
Granted we knew she had been gravely ill,
despite the doctors saying “not to worry” give the meds time…”
As her body could simply no longer hang on.

My husband and I will be driving the 10 hour journey southward at the
end of the week in order to attend the memorial service.
We will remain for a few days sorting through what made Martha’s life her own.

On top of all the sorrow and frustration we are dealing with the early news of
becoming grandparents…as we worry over our son and daughter-n-law as they are
in the midst of job changes, long commutes and a bit of uncertainty.

So there is certainly a great deal of emotional overload…both up and down…
both good and bad.

That is why the words of those such a Nee are ever so important.

A wise friend of mine…
as I am fortunate in that I have many friends who are indeed wise,
recently shared with me his thoughts on my latest stand of sorrow and worry.
He told me that…
“Only when we realise that we can not do it all [alone]
(whatever the it might be in our lives)
we then cry out…
I believe God is so close to you at this time because you are crying out to him…”

I too believe that when we cry out, God draws ever closer despite our feelings
of isolation…
for it is in the isolation of loneliness…
when we are stripped bare of all distraction and false protection.

In 1949 when China became a Communist Nation, Nee was imprisoned—
He had refused to stop preaching, speaking, writing and sharing the Word of God.
A practice counter to all things communist.
An underlying theme in Communism is that it is important, if not essential,
to create false accusations in order to arrest, impression or even execute
those who speak Truth against the atheistic beliefs of the Communist state.

This was not an exception in the case of Nee.
He was falsely accused of crimes he never committed, arrested and sentenced to
spend what would be the last 20 years of his life in a forced hard labor camp.

His final words where found scribbled on a sheet of paper that had been tucked
beneath his prison cell pillow…

“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and
resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe.
I die because of my belief in Christ.”

Watchman Nee

So what we must come to understand, as hard as it often is, that this life
that we claim as our own, is not for our benefit and glory but rather for
that of God’s…it is for His work, and His alone…
as we learn that we both live and die because of Christ Jesus….

“The greatest advantage in knowing the difference between spirit and soul is in
perceiving the latent power of the soul and in understanding its falsification
of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Just last night I was reading what F. B. Meyer once said in a meeting shortly before
his earthly departure. Here is a section of it:
‘This is an amazing fact that never has there been so much spiritualism outside
the church of Christ as is found today…
Is it not factual that in the lower part of our human nature the stimulation of
the soul is quite prevailing?
Nowadays the atmosphere is so charged with the commotion of all kinds of counterfeit that the Lord seems to be calling the church to come to a higher ground.’
Today’s situation is perilous.
May we ‘prove all things; hold fast that which is good’ (1 Thess. 5:.21)
Amen”

Watchman Nee
March 8, 1933
(forward from The Latent Power of the Soul)

Birthdays, Ice Makers, and Medicare? part II

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Thomas Jefferson

DSCN6605

Okay, so yesterday we left off with the rant of a poor husband who had just turned 65 and found out he had to pay for something he was forced to sign up for, against his better wishes, with no option of opting out–aka–Medicare.
The whole choice but no choice scenario
And we were left with the laughter of a thousand far off voices when he mentioned he thought Medicare was something the Government did for free for it’s “seniors”—not that he’s a senior.

And just as we begin to recover from his near apoplexy over receiving the initial Medicare bill, we pick up right where we left off. . .

I quickly call me aunt.
When all else fails, always call Martha. . .

“Yep, you pay”
“If he was drawing Social Security, it would come out of that, but since he’s not, hence the bill.”
We thought it was a free service.
Hysterical laughter now from the receiver of the phone.

The following morning, the bill was gone. My hope was that he carried it to work in order to pay it, otherwise I suppose I should be looking for us a new home, say in, Argentina or Bolivia. Isn’t that where you go when you need to hide out?

Let’s switch gears for a minute.
Since there was indeed a birthday and a rather memorable one at that, we need a present right?
A good present.
Enter the ice maker.

We have an LG refrigerator. LG refrigerators are known for having notorious dysfunctional ice makers. I even wrote the president of LG, just after we got the fridge, complaining. I was told we could call in a service order to request a replacement, of which I did. Number two ice maker was equally as poor.

Each evening I hear the same litany regarding “that sorry ice maker” and how a refrigerator he had back in 1920 made better ice then “that sorry thing over there”
Over there is against the wall in the kitchen and as for 1920, I exaggerate just a tad

When I was mulling what to get for his birthday, I had an ingenious thought!
A marvelous thought!
As in the best present ever sort of thought!
Enter the small portable ice maker!
Genius!

I did my homework.
I researched all the little ice makers I could find information on, reading reviews and consumer reports. I settled on a Smart Plus (Smart + )
I ordered it from Amazon.
I love Amazon but that’s for another day.

In a couple of days FedX pulls up to deliver the ice maker.
I put a bow on the box and wait for the big day.

On that special day marking the 65th year on the planet, I bring out the big box with the big bow.
“I told you not to get me anything, we need to save money and here you are buying presents. . .what is it?” as a smile forms on now a childlike face.

He digs into the box like only any kid would and could.
He finally realizes what it is . . “OH WOW–AN ICE MAKER” (you should be hearing childlike glee as you are reading)
We read the instructions and I explain that I’ll need to thoroughly wash it out and run a couple of test batches first in order to get that “made in China” smell and taste out of the machine—as in yes, it is indeed made in China.
He’s happy.
I’m happy.
It’s a good birthday.

The following day, I run out to the store in order to buy a couple of gallons of distilled water as I understand that distilled water makes for clear cubes. And yes, this machine is to make the round tube like cubes, not the half moon things he hates out of the refrigerator.

I plug it in, add the water, set the controls, wait a tad—then woosh, the little machine churns out water.
Ok, maybe it’s not cold enough yet.
Again Woosh, again water.
I feel around inside the little ice making tubes.
They are not cold.
Hummmmm. . .
Not cold at all.
Aren’t things like refrigerators, freezers and ice makers suppose to be cold?
Again, I reset the numbers.
Woosh, water.
Again, woosh, water.

WHAT??
AAAGGGGHHHH!

Wait a minute.
When you plug in a refrigerator, large or small, aren’t you suppose to hear a motor? A motor like in a compressor??
The freaking compressor is not coming on.
Are you freaking kidding me!!!?
At this point I think I kicked the open drawer by my foot which was open and housed my mixing bowls. I now have 4 less mixing bowls.

When my husband comes home, I break the bad news hoping that he’ll know how to make it work. Maybe I’m not plugging it in correctly?
He pittles with it and declares it to be indeed a dud.
The compressor will not come on.

AAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

I’m furious.
“Can you get your money back” he asks almost pleading for the affirmative.
“Yes danmnit” as I sadly put the thing back in the packing styrofoam and into the big box.
I contact Amazon.
They issue a packing mailer and I proceed to write a “to whom it may concern” letter to Smart +
lambasting an ice maker made in China. . .why can’t an American Company produce a product in America, using American ingenuity, putting Americans to work, where American workers take pride in producing quality American products???? What’s happened to this country???!!!!

UGH!!!

The perfect present goes back from whence it came via UPS.
The following day, I go to the mall in order to buy a back up present–the standard boring dress pants and shirts. Same ol same ol birthday goods–with these high end dress clothes, from a very reputable and long established high end American men’s clothier–with their very high end clothes being made in. . .wait for it. . . Malaysia.

(Picture my head hung very low) UGH!

Oh and did I mention that the insurance company sent out a giant booklet regarding the birthday boy now being a part of Medicare. And no, I couldn’t tell you if it is A, B, C, D, E, or F. . .
Seems that since he is now enrolled in Medicare, he’s no longer to use the doctor, his primary healthcare doctor, here in our town, he’s been using for almost the past 25 years–as Medicare says he must go elsewhere.

AAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Bolivia eh???

Healing

“I didn’t expect to recover from my second operation but since I did, I consider that I’m living on borrowed time. Every day that dawns is a gift to me and I take it in that way. I accept it gratefully without looking beyond it. I completely forget my physical suffering and all the unpleasantness of my present condition and I think only of the joy of seeing the sun rise once more and of being able to work a little bit, even under difficult conditions.”
― Henri Matisse

DSCN6299
(roses / Boston Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)

I’m traveling bright and early over to Atlanta today, taking my son to a specialist at Emory as we seek some much needed healing of body. Complications from the kidney stones are not getting better but seem to be worsening.

As we travel to Emory I am very mindful that Dr. Kent Brantly is currently in Emory’s infectious diseases facility for treatment of the dreaded Ebola virus he contracted while in Africa treating the growing number of victims of this frightening virus. Tuesday Nancy Writebol, a missionary also in Africa to help those victims of the virus, as well as, the second American to contract the virus, will arrive in Atlanta for treatment.

I am aware, as a mother, how I am concerned over the health of my now grown son–I can only imagine how the families of both Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol must feel. The fear of the unknown coupled by the knowledge of what a virus such as Ebola can do to the human body with a vicious and deadly rate of speed.

DSCN6297
(roses / Boston Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)

Today may we all offer our hopes and prayers for healing.
Healing for all who are currently afflicted by illness of both body and mind.
May we remain prayerful for those suffering in Israel and Gaza.
May we remain prayerful for those in China who were affected by yesterday’s deadly earthquake.
May we remain prayerful for those in Ukraine and Russia as that portion of the world remains in crisis.
May we continue to be prayerful for the families who have lost loved ones on both the Malaysian planes–one downed and one still missing.
May we pray for all in Africa who are afflicted with Ebola.
May we pray for all the healthcare workers throughout this world who work tirelessly to bring hope and healing to all who suffer.

DSCN6296
(roses, Boston Public Garden / Julie Cook / 2014

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5