the name that you bear

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed,
but praise God that you bear that name.

1 Peter 4:16

Names are important.
They acknowledge who we are…who we belong to, and from whence we come.

They are a marker.
Almost like a branding.

We are marked…for life…with our name.

First name and last name…middle names, an exception.

We may be either proud of our name and our heritage
or we can opt to feel ashamed.

If we claim to be a Chrisitan, as in a follower of Christ,
we have taken his name, Christian…little Christ.

It is a name we bear above our own family name.

We either stand up with that name or we cower.
If we cower, we are ashamed.

He shed his blood for you.
Be not ashamed.

The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.

Isaiah 62:2

(off to go pick up the granddog in order to babysit for a week.
Don’t tell, but I’d rather bring home the grandkids, but it seems
I’m relegated to caring for the dog…Que Sera, Sera–
Be back Sunday)

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/

“But thanks be to God…”

But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57


(Lynch Creek Farms)

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the land
Democrats, and even some Republicans, seemed mad at the man…

Articles of impeachment were hung in the chamber with glee
in hopes that all votes would pass as quickly as could be

The nation tried to carry on with its holiday of cheer
while Democrats greeted the President’s supporters with half-hearted sneers

With Madame Speaker dressed in her mock funeral black
I wanted nothing to do with this presidential attack.

Despite a time that was to be merry and bright…
I avoided all news keeping this debacle from sight…

…..

And thus this entire governmental spectacle has taken hold…

It’s taken on the heaviness of a thick black cloud hanging wearily
over an otherwise merry and joyful time.

All except for those who had “merry impeachment” parties and
dinners last night…and those who clapped in the house upon the resulting vote.
Shameful and boorish behavior by folks who just don’t grasp the magnitude.

This brouhaha that kicked off on election night 2016, has consumed our news outlets,
it has divided this nation deeper and further, it has overshadowed much more important
issues affecting the entire nation and it is doing its darndest to steal
our Christmas joy…

I oddly think that that is indeed Speaker Pelosi’s mindset…
to steal the joy, hence the black and now they’ve all left town…
heading home for parties and fun while leaving the nation and
their unfinished business, hanging in a lurch.

However, could this not have waited until say January…when we’re all already
depressed from dealing with our post-Christmas letdown and seasonal affective
disorders stemming from the lack of light, the gray days and cold winds???

Yet the stealing of joy is exactly what Satan would like.

I am, however, still left feeling very sad as well as mad…
or is that more angry than mad?

I am mad at our governmental leadership.

They have forsaken their duties to govern, write legislations,
vote to pass or pass on various laws…
all because of an obsession that began three years ago along with
a fast leaning slant toward socialism.

Everything about governing has been put on hold all in order
that ‘they’ may “impeach” a president who has committed no crimes.

Now I must confess, I missed Andrew Johnson’s impeachment
as it was slightly before my time…
but the near impeachment and ensuing ‘abdication’ of office by Richard Nixon
made a deep and lasting impression on me.

It made me sad seeing the uglier and smugger side of our politicians
at an age when I could understand what divisiveness was all about.

It was not so much from President Nixon, who I was deeply disappointed in,
but it came from the ensuing three-ring circus that followed the discovery of the
Watergate break-in, clandestine figures like “deep throat” and
the infamous Watergate tapes.

I had never felt so remorseful for our Nation as a whole as I did then—
only to have been surpassed had I been living during the Civil War,
which undoubtedly would have left me feeling fractured just like our country.

For you see, I don’t get mad at the Democrats as a whole nor do I get mad
at the Republicans as a whole…instead, I get sad for our Nation as a whole.

This is so much more than a them vs them…it is rather an us vs us.

I did not care for Bill Clinton.
He looked directly into a camera lens and lied to a nation.
I had to keep our young son from the room during the news lest he
wonder about the constant talk of blue dresses and oral sex…
How would you have explained all of that to a young child who hadn’t a clue about sex
and then have to also explain that was all about our President?

You can’t and you don’t.

I also hate the fact that I feel as if I have to defend the fact that I am a woman
who is conservative.
Yes, I am college-educated.
Yes, I am well-read.
Yes, I have a deep understanding of history.
No, my husband does not tell me how to vote.
Yes, I am a Christian.
No, I do not like how often immature and childish our President acts.
Nor do I not like his tweets or lashing out…

But I see his childishness as the direct reaction to equally childish behavior…
for our government has become a place for children’s tantrums and their tit for tat.

I do, however, like the fact that this President has made good on his promises…
promises that other politicians seem to forget once they come to power.

Think Jerusalem.

And the issue is perhaps not in ‘coming to office’, but rather the ‘coming to power’…
because so much of our troubles stem from not office but power.

I also like the fact that we have a strong economy, a strong stock market, the lowest
unemployment rate in ages and a President who fights for the little guy.

We elected a businessman, not a politician…
and in that lies much of the angst.

We know and understand the leadership, or perhaps that is the lack of leadership, from our
politicians…many of whom are lawyers…we don’t necessarily understand
governmental leadership from a business mogul.

For the record, I am not a deplorable nor am I ignorant.
And as a Christian, I would like a Christian leader…but I’ve yet to find one.

David was at times a most wretched king who made very evil and selfish decisions…
but God still used him to lead a people.

Am I suggesting Trump is a David?
No.
But it shows us how God can use bad for good.

Oh and by the way, this is not Nazi Germany and Trump is no Hitler…
I do not want to hear that comparison ever again because there is no such comparison.
That demeans the 6 million people killed in the Death Camps.
As well as the approximate total of 75 to 85 million killed simply due to the war…
add to that the millions killed or sent to gulags following the end of the war by Stalin.

No, that is not Trump.
That is not our country.

I am a Reaganite…plain and simple.

But I will never be made to apologize for who I opt to vote for or not vote for.

So don’t scratch your heads as to why this latest impeachment has some folks
sad and not gleeful.
Do not demean those who do not share your excitement.
Do not shame others for their right to vote and right of choice.
Some elected officials leave me wondering but the vote was not mine to make.

And no Speaker Pelosi, you are a lifelong politician, I do not buy
your theatrics of solemness or sadness.

This is not a happy time in our Nation…

Yet I was reminded last night that I am to give thanks unto God.
He has already overcome the world…

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom, since before time began,
befall us suddenly, all unawares; and so in our blindness and ignorance
we say that this is accident or luck, but to our Lord God it is not so.”

St. Julian of Norwich

consequences…the decisions we make

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest.
That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.
The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which,
a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.
An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge
or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


(a willet makes off with a crab for breakfast /Julie Cook / 2019)

Scanning a local Atlanta’s news feed Sunday, I noted the storyline about a local Army Master Sgt.
passing away ten years after he was initially wounded in Afghanistan.

I stopped to read the story.

It seems that this soldier’s tale is a bit more complicated than that of a soldier being wounded
in the line of duty.

This particular soldier, Master Sargent Mark Allen of Georgia, was shot in the head 10 years ago
after he went out on a search mission for a fellow soldier who had deserted the unit.

The AWOL soldier was Sgt Bowe Bergdahl.

Bergdahl deserted his unit and was eventually captured by the Taliban.
He was in captivity from 2009 until 2014, when then-President Barak Obama
traded 5 Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl.

Master Sargent Mark Allen’s now recent widow Shannon,
did not know that her husband was actually shot while searching for Bergdahl,
not until several years later when President Obama ordered the prisoner exchange.
All she had known was that her husband had been shot in the line of duty and had
suffered a debilitating traumatic brain injury.

Allen was to spend the next 10 years of his life in a wheelchair and unable to
communicate, requiring constant around the clock care.

The full news story is below…followed by a bit of personal reflection…

Georgia soldier injured while searching for Bowe Bergdahl dies 10 years later
By: Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A retired Army National Guard officer from metro Atlanta died Saturday,
10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
in Afghanistan.

Master Sgt. Mark Allen was injured in a June 2009 search mission for Bergdahl,
who walked off a U.S. military outpost and was captured by the Taliban.
Military prosecutors said Allen was shot during a firefight that erupted when U.S. forces
and about 50 members of the Afghan National Army were attacked by enemy fighters.

Allen suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him in a wheelchair and
unable to communicate.
His wife, Shannon Allen, told WSB Radio that she did not learn about the circumstances surrounding
her husband’s injuries until 2014, after former President Barack Obama negotiated Bergdahl’s release
in a swap for five Taliban members detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Shannon Allen typically declined interviews,
but she was in the courtroom in October 2017 when Bergdahl pleaded guilty to charges of desertion
and misbehavior before the enemy, The Associated Press reported.
He was later sentenced to a dishonorable discharge from the Army but avoided prison time.

When Allen returned home, after being treated for three years at a military hospital in Florida,
he was honored as a hero.
The father of two was a frequent recipient of local accolades in his Walton County hometown.

According to an obituary printed in the Walton Tribune,
Allen spent 21 years in the Army and the Army National Guard.
He retired in 2013 upon receiving a Purple Heart.
He is survived by his wife, his son, Cody, and a daughter, Journey.

Services are planned for this week.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Tim Stewart Funeral Home in Loganville.
A funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church of Snellville with a burial to follow.

This story was written by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stories such as these are hard for all sorts of reasons.
Lives are shattered and forever changed all because of one person’s choice,
action or decision.

Two children lost their dad this past weekend… and if the truth be told,
they actually lost the dad they had known as small children, ten years ago
when he was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban.
There are conflicting reports that upwards of 8 other soldiers were shot and killed
as a direct result of that particular search mission.

The story behind Bergdahl is cloudy.

When President Obama exchanged 5 military prisoners for Bergdahl’s release,
some of the truth behind Bergdahl’s story began to emerge.
Details causing some in our Government’s leadership to question the legality of
President Obama’s prisoner exchange.

Bergdahl was eventually tried in a Military court and pled guilty to desertion.

He was given a dishonorable discharge, demoted in rank and was fined $1000 from his
monthly pay.
He did not face any prison time.

Since then, some have wondered aloud whether or not Bergdahl was actually
an enemy sympathizer.
A disillusioned soldier who decided to take his chances by deserting the Army
and country he served, opting to seek asylum with the enemy…or did he merely desert,
hoping to elude capture and simply “run away” to whatever it is was that he thought
might be a better life.

Bergdahl, however, does not deny deserting.

In a letter to his parents just prior to his desertion, Bergdahl paints
the picture of a young man who was very much disillusioned.
He was angry and had decided that he must wash his hands of any part of the mission and war.
He spoke of “being ashamed to be an American”
He noted that “the US Army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at”
He points to the fact that America and her military are arrogant and even cruel in their actions
against the Taliban and the local people.

His father’s response was for his son to follow his conscience.

Yet one thing history has taught us is that war is not pretty nor is it ever fair.
Wars are bad and bad things happen during such.
Rules of engagement, the Geneva Convention, the UN, all have
been put in place to aid man in fighting his wars fairly…
yet what of any war is ever fair?

But those who are the committed members of our military understand
the mission and in turn work to that end.

And yet in all of this, I am reminded about the matter of consequence.

A man who was once proclaimed as ‘The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll, once noted that
“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.”

Ingersoll was not a Christian man however both Christian and nonbeliever can each agree
that from all actions comes consequence.

No matter Bergdahl’s claims as to what took place following his departure from his Unit,
the fact of the matter was, and remains, that the consequences from his decision
and actions that fateful day in 2009 has forever changed a myriad of lives.

Bergdahl made a conscious decision, that many say to this day, was purely selfish.
I happen to be one of those who find Bergdahl’s actions self-absorbed…
and according to Military protocol, even criminal.

His choice to walk away, for whatever reason, set in motion a chain reaction of
life-altering events…perhaps none so great as experienced by the Allen family.

The Bergdahl case remains somewhat fluid as his legal team continues to push that he
be awarded various medals from that of POW survivor to a Purpleheart…
as well that his “Court Martial” be overturned.

Despite whichever side of this case you find yourself, the fact of the matter is
that decisions, actions, and choices all hold weight.

And often that weight is a balance between life and death.
As they directly affect other people…whether we see or not the effect.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

fervent determination

People often ask me:
What should we do?
When division threatens, it is necessary to strengthen unity.
This has nothing to do with a team spirit as it exists in the world.
The unity of the Church has its source in the heart of Jesus Christ.
We must stay close to it, in it.
This heart that was pierced by the lance so that we might be able to take refuge
there will be our house.
The unity of the Church rests on four columns.
Prayer, Catholic doctrine***, love for Peter, and mutual charity
must become the priorities of our soul and of all our activities.

Cardinal Robert Sarah
from The Day Is Now Far Spent


(detail of the intricacies of a web /Julie Cook / 2019)


(the intricacies of the spider /Julie Cook / 2019)

Given the surge of sins in the ranks of the Church,
we are tempted to try to take things into our own hands.
We are tempted to try to purify the Church by our own strength.
That would be a mistake.
What would we do?
Form a party?
A movement?
That is the most serious temptation: the showy disguise of division.
Under the pretext of doing good, people become divided, they criticize each other,
they tear each other apart.

And the devil snickers.

He has succeeded in tempting good people under the appearance of good.
We do not reform the Church by division and hatred.
We reform the Church when we start by changing ourselves!
Let us not hesitate, each one in his place, to denounce sin, starting with our own.

Cardinal Robert Sarah
from The Day Is Now Far Spent

****Whereas Cardinal Sarah (1945 Guinea) is a prominent
Catholic prelate, as a non-Catholic, I can still read and take heart in his words.
In this case, I consider ‘Catholic’ to mean the global Christian family, just
as I consider ‘the Chruch’ to mean the collective Christian family…

accommodating whom?

“If you accommodate others, you will be accommodating yourself”
Chinese Proverbs


(The Mayor helping emptying the dishwasher / Julie Cook / 2019)

Ok…so I’m still struggling between feeling better and being zapped of all energy…but that
didn’t seem to keep my mind from racing from thought to thought during the course of the
past week.

I’d see this or that irony or idiocy and would make a mental note that a
future post would be in order.

Then I’d feel the fervery chills again or the Mayor would be racing off willy nilly toward
something alluring, putting her life at risk, and those thoughts would quickly dissipate.

But the passing of a rural church’s sign last evening helped to jog my memory.

However, let’s back up a tad.

Let’s consider a word.
The word being–
Accommodating

A word that means a willingness to please: that of being helpful, obliging.

Obliging, in turn, meaning indulgent.

Indulgent then in turn meaning a willingness to allow excessive leniency.

I think we see where this is going…

It is going to the notion of making life, or that of another’s existence, as easy peasy as possible.

It is something our culture is honing to a high art form…

Making everything easy peasy…while offering leniency for all as we indulge everyone and anyone.
Matters not your desires nor choices…

Oh, no wait….it does matter…
It matters only if you are a Chrisitan, a Jew, a conservative or a moralistic individual…
because we simply cannot accommodate those who hold such mindsets…
But if you want anything outside the circle of a Judaeo /Christian mindset, we’ll accommodate you til
the cows come home.

And this thinking came from a drive last night when I passed by a sign outside of a church
that proclaimed “We Now Have Saturday Church”

At first look and read, that little advert seems great.
Saturday Church for those who can’t “make” Sunday Church.

But this seemingly benign offering got me thinking.

How much has The Church—each and every denomination of the Christian Church,
gone in order to accommodate the masses?

Praise rock bands to draw in the young.
Coffee house settings to draw in the casual laid back.
Video theatrics to show our cutting edge use of technology.
Gay clergy to make the fringe members feel accepted.
Preaching openness and love to show our all-embracing nature.
Removing the ideas of sin, hell or consequence from our actions because we are love and love only.
Gay marriages to express our inclusion.
Petitions to change the wording of the Bible to show we are progressive…
God as the God-dess.

On and on we go because the numbers show that the Church is losing.

It is losing to a deeply divisive yet progressive secular culture that
has no room for what Christianity has stood for over the past two thousand years.

It hasn’t helped that the clergy has almost singlehandedly cast a heavy
veil of mistrust…with many heinous acts of predation, across denominational lines,
leaving many of the faithful with deep wounds and now disgust for the Church as a whole.

So in desperation, The Church lets out all the stops.
Desperate to accommodate any and all…
just please don’t go…
please just come…
back…

And yet it is The Bridegroom who has never changed.

He, the Godhead, has remained the same since the creation of our existence…

He was before such and He will be long after such…

He will never change, be changed, bend, beg, accommodate or oblige.

He gave everything He could give on a fateful day of betrayal and death…
He offered redemption.
He offered hope.
But He will not bend nor will He be changed…
despite our bending over backward for anything and everything other than God.

God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?

Numbers 23:19

and the winner is…

“Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth,
I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what
Thou hast done already.
God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums
I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.”

A.W. Tozer

Ok, so maybe we don’t exactly have an exact “winner”—not just yet…
maybe it’s more like a photo finish…

As a teacher, a facilitator, who encourages open classroom discussion and dialogue,
I asked a question in yesterday’s post.
A question, or perhaps a challenge, posed to those who often gather here to come up with
a focused prayer…a focused prayer prayed by those of us who wish to join together
in order to implore our God…
imploring for grace, mercy, forgiveness, and help.

Unified voices lifted upward in unison for an exact detailed request.

Given our dire straits in this world of ours…prayer is needed more than ever.

And yet the responses have been slow to trickle in…

And as the consummate educator, that I once worked hard to be, I take responsibility for this.

So now we need to pare down and whittle away the broadness of all of the thoughts and ponderings
that came in today, working out the verbiage until we have a laser-focused and precise
offering to God the Omnipotent.

But with all of that being said, I will say that Wally gets a smiley face participation sticker
for his quick and enthusiastic response this morning!

And we must always give Vincent a good citizenship sticker for his generosity and desire to
always share.

Plus Citizen Tom will receive the communication sticker for his shared call to prayer.

And to Jeff, Kathy, and Fran…well each of them shall receive a gold star
for their excellent suggestions…

And Jim, well, Jim will get a lightning bolt sticker for his high achieving energy!

You know us teachers…we love our stickers! 🙂

So with all kidding and fun aside, I will now share what I think we’ve come up with
in regards to a specific prayer…

However I will say that when I first mentioned praying for our Nation,
I was actually being too limited with that notion…

It’s not quite fair to be praying for just our Nation and our Nation alone…
as we have a lot of members to this little blog family of ours who are not
from this Nation…
And so, therefore, it is not right to say that we must pray solely for the US…

Of course, it’s not!

What of England, France, Germany, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Canada
Egypt, Israel, India, Ukraine etc…those who also gather here..?

So no, we won’t be praying solely for the US.

A process of elimination…now we have a start.

Remember we want to be precise and specific…nothing overtly broad and sweeping
but rather focused and specific.

So here is Kathy’s initial comment:

There are so many topics, but if we pray for a return to God and place our trust in Him alone,
I believe the door will be opened for all the other prayers to be answered.
The only way our land will be healed is if we do so.
Part of the problem is that the nation doesn’t want to acknowledge sin and because of that,
it has created a selfish, spoiled, entitled population that has little or no care for others.
Prayer will link us as Christians as well.
When we all pray to the same God – the Only God –
we become more and more united and great things will come from it.

And now Fran’s initial comment…

Julie, I agree with Kathy.
“Let’s start at home.” ~ meaning our own hearts and households? It must begin here.
We all have beams in our own eyes. We, as His people, are the light in the darkness,
but as Jesus noted in the Sermon on the Mount, our eye must be single,
returning our focus upon Him for anything lacking in our own lives and the life of His Church.
I pray for the Lord to turn HIs people in repentance first for our own sins,
and guidance for the Holy Spirit to intercede for us. When the world sees a difference in us,
they might be inclined to listen to God’s direction. All is according to the power of His Holy will.
He must show His presence among us to lead. We need a revival among HIs people.
(Sorry to take so much space. You opened a flood-gate.)
Blessings. 🙂

me:
no, Fran—a flood gate is great!
but tell me…
what is the specific prayer—–for our own eyes and hearts to be opened–-
or for our nation’s return to God??
It’s the teacher in me to ask the specifics 😉

Fran:
Julie, you quote 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people humble themselves.” Then, “if two agree.” What should be our prayer?
Should it not be that we humble ourselves with all God’s people,
seek HIs face and “turn from our wicked ways.”
The prayer was for God’s people, not for other nations.
The church as God’s people must return in obedience to Him.
We are the only light, the only nation that belongs to Him.
America is not a nation that will return to God.
It is alien to God.
Even Isaiah asked how long things would be under God’s judgment upon Israel..
God answered him in Isaiah 6. We do well to read and heed God’s working in the past,
so as to know what to pray.

me:
then shall it be for a unity of God’s people?

Fran:
Yes, plus an awakening to the truths of His Word that makes us light in this darkness and
an example of true Christianity.
Thank you for opening your post to comments.
Blessings.

me:
and thank you, Fran, for your Spirit-filled insight.
I’m throwing this all out there tomorrow…
bringing it all together in a concise thought—
now we just need to settle on a time

and fianlly here is Marie’s well-grounded comment:
I have read all of the comments so far.
What puzzles me is that she asked two questions…
what do we pray for and how.
I feel that we are to select a time when as believers we pray for unity and peace and
Our Lord’s blessings on our country.
No one has said when or how so this is my thought…
choose a time..say 6pm daily to come before the Grace of God asking Him to intervene
in the lives of our people and those in authority over our beloved country.
He does answer prayer. It does not take the prayers from all of us for Him to answer
but it is a way that we, as His people can draw together to ask His blessings.
Thank you Julie for your daily blog.
It has meant a lot to me personally.

Isaiah’s Commission
6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.
2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings:
With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet,
and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and
the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand,
which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
7 With it he touched my mouth and said,
“See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.[a]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”

And he answered:

“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

And so we are commissioned.

We shall pray for the unity of the Faithful first…that being us and our own hearts.
A prayer for the unity of the believers of the blessed Trinity
Then we shall pray that our hearts may be humbled…
and then we will pray that we will become the reflection of God’s light…
a light that will shine into a darkened world.

Add your thoughts or adjustments…and now…tell
me what is to be our specific prayer time…6PM as Marie suggests…or another time??

Keep it coming my brothers and sisters …

courage, courageous or more of the same ol’ lies…

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point,
which means at the point of highest reality. ”

C.S. Lewis


(image from the movie of Hacksaw Ridge)

Okay, so lately we’ve been reading, hearing and seeing a lot being made mention
concerning the notion of courage.

You know what I think of when I hear or see the word courage?

Hacksaw Ridge.

If you have not seen the movie Hacksaw Ridge…well you need to watch it in order
to understand the notion of courage.

It’s the courage of being both verbally and physically abused…not by some twisted
martyristic desire but rather as a result of one’s convictions.
To be beaten to a pulp because you’ve opted to stand up for your Christian faith of
pacifism because you feel deeply called to do your part against the onslaught and scourge
of fascism during a world war.

A subjugation of abuse simply because of your belief and faith.
Ridiculed and maligned because you know deep down, God has called you to serve and you
believe that serving means to do so without a gun.

And as a faithful servant, you know you must answer God’s call…
it is simply what you must endure.

And yet there are a myriad of examples of courage…
it’s just that that one example first came to mind.

Of course, you can walk down any children’s hospital across this Nation and you will
readily see courage on a day to day basis on each and every face of each and every child
in each one of those hospitals…
but that is a different tale for a different day.

However, the courage we keep hearing about these days is a different type of courage.
It is a man-made notion of courage that has been molded to fit neatly into a post-Chrisitan era.

Courage as in it is courageous to come out of “one’s closet”
Courage as in it is courageous to admit to being gay.
Courage as in it is courageous to be born, say, a man, and decide to be a woman…
or visa-versa…only to decide differently agian…and on and on…
Courage as in it is courageous to stand up for beliefs that are for all things progressive
as in contrary to anything conservative or even orthodox…

Yet it seems that this modern-day courageous business hits a speed bump when
one thinks that being courageous simply means to speak out and against middle American
conservative values…

Values such as the concept of a traditional family, sexual morality,
life versus abortion, to possess a strong work ethic versus a governmental handout,
opposition to illegal immigration, patriotism etc…

Today’s society believes it is courage to scorn traditional beliefs.

That is not courage…that is egotistical arrogance pretending to be courageous.

And so when reading our friend the Wee Flea’s latest post,
I am reminded of the importance of courage.

Well actually…it’s from reading his last two posts…
as one is a book review and the other is a piggyback from both the book and
its review as well as a rebuttal to the author.

His is a post that was written to refute the latest adulations over a former Chrisitan singer
(Vicky Breeching / Undivided)
who has let herself out of the proverbial closet and who has written a book describing her
now liberating ordeal as brave because she has been a lifelong victim of
conservative Christianity…

So that’s it now???

As a sinner, one is now simply a victim??

A victim of sin…but what of repentance?
Sin, it seems is now without a cross, without a Savior and without saving Grace…

Well, that certainly lets us all off the hook now doesn’t it…

This woman is currently making the US and UK book tour circuit and has been met with a
resounding level of applause from the liberal press, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
and those of the LGBT sector.

David reminds those of us who remain opposed to any sort of notion of a Biblical
condoning of a homosexual relationship as being perfectly fine that we are not,
in the eyes of God, wrong…
no matter how much our progressive society tries to paint us as wrongheaded
and backward in our thinking.

This new trend that seems to be known as “Gay Christianity” is actually a most
dangerous trend that is working fast and furious to drive a wedge straight into the heart
of the Chruch.

And so David, in his recent post, list points for Christians to hold to and to be
accountable to in this latest fight…
with one such point being that of courage and courageousness.
And it is with courage that we stand united against the growing assault by a
progressive post-Christan culture.

8) We must not be cowards – we respond with courage.

One person wrote and told me that after they posted a ‘like’ to my review on
‘Undivided’, they were reported to a British Government institution for being homophobic!
This is the kind of intimidation that causes many to be silent.
Vicky talks about British evangelical churches putting their heads in the sand and being silent.
She is right. We need to speak out against the intimidation and the lies…
even, or especially, when it comes from those who are pleasant and plausible.
Are you prepared to speak out with grace and truth?
And we need the courage to rebuke those who would take the same view as us but are abusive
and full of hatred.

David concludes his post with a lesson…

One final lesson I have gleaned from Vicky’s book and interviews.
In her woundedness and hurt, she has become a very intolerant and demanding person.
She won’t attend churches that hold non-affirming theology, like HTB.
She demands that churches she goes to should never have someone in the pulpit who says
that marriage should be between a man and a woman –
because otherwise she might be triggered.
(I note in passing that there is not a great deal of humility or tolerance in her approach…’
do what I want or I will condemn you’ is the mantra.
She has also ‘unfollowed’ me on Twitter…which kind of gives the lie to
‘lets have respectful discussion’ –
I find that most liberals are like that –
we have to agree with them, or we are beyond the pale).
She wants the warmth and friendliness of the evangelical church –
just without the evangel.
My fear is that there are far too many of us evangelicals who are dangerously
close to a similar position – in private if not in public.

Liberal evangelicals want a God without judgement, a Cross without atonement,
a Bible without hard things and a church without the Jesus of the Bible.

Those of us who believe in that Jesus must hold fast and not be intimidated or deceived
into giving up on him.
I leave you with these apposite words from that Jesus to the church in Thyatira –
Words that today would see him accused of ‘hate speech’ and condemned by the liberal
evangelicals of being ‘unChristlike’!

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet
are like burnished bronze.
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance,
and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

Nevertheless, I have this against you:
You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet.
By her teaching, she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of
food sacrificed to idols.
I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
So I will cast her on a bed of suffering,
and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely,
unless they repent of her ways.
I will strike her children dead.
Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds,
and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”

An Open Letter to the Evangelical Church about Vicky Beeching and ‘Gay Christianity’

Apostasy and being something different

“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


(the viloas will soon perish in the southern heat / Julie Cook / 2018)

Well since we’d brought it up the other day…
that being the whole notion of apostacy vs apostolic,
the funny thing is…the Wee Flea brought it up again.

And well, you know me enough to know that I don’t believe in coincidences in this life,
only the moving of The Spirit.

John Owen, (1616-1684) according to Wikipedia, was an English Nonconformist church leader,
theologian and academic administrator at the University of Oxford and even a member of Parliment.

A jack of all trades it seems.

Later in life, after a lofty and long public career, John wrote several books
“the chief of these were On Apostasy (1676), a sad account of religion under the Restoration;”

After having read several books on his life, as well as several of his books,
our friend the Wee Flea has written about John before.
For it seems that despite nearly 350 years, as much as things change, they oddly
seem to stay the same.

John was concerned about the Chruch during his day and time,
much as I worry about the Chruch in my day and time.

And when I say Chruch, I speak of the universal Chrisitan family—denominations and all.
Latin West, Eastern Orthodox and all that has splintered and spiraled outward ever since…

And in his latest posting, David, our Wee Flea friend, reminds us,
while channeling John’s own prior reflections of the 17th-century church
as compared to our own 21st-century church.:

Jesus warns us that churches will turn away.

Owen’s observation is that the churches are in such a state because they have
apostatized from the holiness of the gospel (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
There is an outward profession of the gospel,
yet people give themselves to the pursuit of the vilest lusts and the practice of
the most abominable sins.
But rather than be surprised at this, we should realise that it is what the Lord warned
us would happen.

The Apostate Free Church?

A theme of thought seems to be building…coming to us from all sorts of directions.
And the “we’ here means you and me, the faithful…
An in this family of Believers, you and me, need to sit up and pay attention.

And so once again our dear sister in Christ and friend Shara over on https://scasefamily.com/
leaves us with a pearl of wisdom…

She responded to my post yesterday with a true gem…“I keep telling my kids,
“you have to be different, if you call yourself a Christian,
something has got to stick out about you

That one statement made me sit up and take notice.

Ok, so I call myself a Christian… what is it that sticks out about that in me???
What do others see in that claim of mine…what makes me stick out?

Since I wish to choose Apostolic as opposed to Apostacy, it seems I might just
have some work to be about.

What about you…what are others seeing in this time of appeasement and apostasy?
As a Christian, what is it about you that sticks out?

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from
the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

1 Timothy 4:1

when disagreeing becomes a hate crime

The idea of opposing dangerous ideologies is not foreign to Americans,
but the idea of opposing an ideology that is also a religion is more problematic.
It has become increasingly problematic now that we live in an era in which merely
disagreeing with another’s opinions is tantamount to a hate crime.

William Kilpatrick
excerpt from LifeSite.com


(statue of homeless Jesus outside of Christ Cathedral Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ideology versus religion.
Disagreement versus hate.

We seem to be having a very difficult time discerning between these 4 words.

Ideology:
a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
b: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
c: the integrated assertions, theories, and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

Religion:
a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Disagreement:
the state of being at variance

hate:
a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury:
b: extreme dislike or disgust

I stumbled across the following article that I found most telling.
The title alone grabbed me and reeled me into reading further.
The Catholic Church Needs to Wake Up to Islam

The article focused on the hierarchy of the Chruch,
in particular the Catholic Chruch, and its inadequate response,
handling and understanding the difference between a religion versus that of an ideology.

With the religion and ideology in question being Islam.

A religion and ideology that has minced no words in its disdain for
those of the Judeo/ Christian world.

The problem is that church leaders seem not to understand that the two are indeed the same…
as in one in the same…a mindset along with a belief system.
Mr. Kilpatrick pointedly explains that the church fathers just don’t seem to “get that.”

Not only does the hierarchy of the Catholic Church struggle with the difference…
most of the Christian fold struggles.
They, they being you and I, struggle along with most of the secular west.

For you and I need to understand that a basic ingredient to our western DNA psyche is
the fact that we like to and want to “play nice”—it’s who we are.
We’re a kumbaya lot.

And that’s because we think and feel that that’s just how normal civilized human beings act…
People want to play nice right?

We want to and desperately try to give the benefit of the doubt to each and all—
along with that whole notion of ‘do unto others as you would want to be done unto you…
despite any religious inclination or not…that mindset is really at our core.

The problem is that various ideologies do not “play nice” nor do they care to play nice.
And we westerners just don’t get that.

And in our rush and zeal to always play nice, we’ve raced off half-cocked
decreeing that anyone who disagrees with an ideology…
well, they are guilty of being hateful…as in committing hate crimes.

So we’ve basically thrown the concept of disagreement out with the bath water and
hopscotched all the way over to hate.

Remeber when we use to acquiesce to those we couldn’t come to terms with by
saying “well, let’s just agree to disagree” …meaning that we realized that we were at
an impasse of thought on a topic or issue but we’d remain civil, cordial and even peaceful
by letting the disagreements pass without driving a wedge of contention—
each of us would keep our independent thoughts without fussing or bickering or
forcing our ways, thoughts, ideas upon the other.

It’s what civilized folks did.

Unfortunately, our society has morphed into something else entirely.
We no longer allow for disagreements but rather equate the word disagreement
with the word hate.

Two entirely different words with two entirely different meanings yet we’ve twisted them
together…melding the two into one.
Yet unlike Islam which is both a religion and ideology,
disagreement and hate are not one and the same.

And so sadly we are now seeing the various leaders of both the Christian and Jewish faiths
failing to understand the trouble in all of that thinking.

Yet what is most worrisome in all of this is that the Judaeo/ Christian faiths are
not offered or afforded the same gift of tolerance or global acceptance and the right
to disagree as, say, the ideology of Islam receives…
or even atheism for that matter…but that issue of thought
is for another day.

So now Christians and Jews are expected to bend to the wields of the very ideology
that actually seethes a deep hatred toward their very existence.

So it was with great interest that I read the following words and article by
William Kilpatrick in an article in Crisis Magazine.

Mr. Kilpatrick offers a warning that it would be wise that our religious leader stand firm
against ideologies…while explaining that to stand firm does not mean that we are to hate…
merely that we hold true to the tenants of our faiths…

By contrast, Church leaders and Pope Francis in particular, have become,
in effect, enablers of Islam.
Pope Francis has denied that Islam sanctions violence,
has drawn a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism
(“If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence”),
and has campaigned for the admittance of millions of Muslim migrants into Europe.
Moreover, he has criticized those who oppose his open borders policy as hard-hearted xenophobes.
In return for his efforts,
he has been publicly thanked by several Muslim leaders for his “defense of Islam.”

One might be tempted to use the word “collaborator” instead of “enabler.”
But collaborator is too strong a word. In its World War II context,
it implies a knowing consent to and cooperation with an evil enterprise.
It seems clear to me that the pope and others in the hierarchy are enabling the spread
of an evil ideology; however,
it’s not at all clear that they understand what they’re doing.
Francis, for instance, seems to sincerely believe that all religions are roughly equal in goodness.
Thus for him, the spread of any religion must seem like a good thing.
It’s an exceedingly naïve view, but one that seems honestly held.

But one can’t plead ignorance forever.
Eventually, the reality of the situation will become plain to all but the most obtuse.
At that point – at the point the threat is undeniable –
we assume that the people in power will wake up and take the appropriate actions.
But what if the awakening comes too late? The pope, for one,
has shown little evidence that he will change his views on the subject.
If anything, he has doubled down –
recently going so far as to say that the rights of migrants trump national security.
We should not look to the pope to lead the way on this issue.
He seems constitutionally incapable of entertaining doubts about his Islam policy.
It looks like the impetus to change course will have to come from bishops,
priests and Catholic laity.
They had better get busy.
There is no time to waste.

Published with permission from Crisis Magazine

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-catholic-church-needs-to-wake-up-about-islam