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’

remembrances

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time,
and your government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain

DSCN3224
(the flag I fly at home / Julie Cook / 2015)

Today Americans will pause in order to celebrate Memorial Day.

A day many assume was put on the calendar in order to mark the unofficial start of summer.

It’s a day for day’s off…
for family gatherings,
for picnics,
for cookouts,
for ballgames…
and basic idyllic enjoyment.

However it would behoove us, on this unofficial day of all things festive,
to recall the original intent of Memorial Day…

Originally it was not a day set aside to commemorate the opening of the seasonal door to summer…
rather it was a day set aside for Americans to remember the thousands of lives lost,
as well as the thousands of bodies forever broken, during America’s darkest days of the Civil War.

It was originally referred to as Decoration Day.

Over the years, Memorial Day has taken on a life of its own.
It has become a day of celebration, an excuse for a party, a shift in the seasons, …

Yet as we celebrate, we must also remember…

We remember the countless numbers of men and woman who have served
and continue to serve in our armed forces.

We remember the lives taken.
The sacrifices made.
The limbs lost.
The souls shattered
The minds altered.
The hearts broken
And the children who have grown up and continue growing up never
knowing the parent who was called to offer the ultimate gift
to their fellow man.

So as you work in the yard,
fire up that grill,
play in the surf,
build that sand castle,
watch that ball game,
sip that lemonade,
eat that hot dog,
and just enjoy a special moment to be lazy…
Offer up a thank you…
to those men and woman who have given, and continue giving, their all…
allowing you to say “hello summertime”

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.

Luke 9:24

oh it ain’t no thing…

“The Americans have found the healing of God in a variety of things,
the most pleasant of which is probably automobile drives.”

William Saroyan

DSCN3172
(my uncle Paul and my dad, the kid working the last drop of Coke, circa 1936 / on the steps of the state capital of Baton Rouge, Louisiana—road trip via Hwy 78 out of Atlanta)

Sitting for over two hours this morning on the interstate, not moving more than an inch every 15 minutes, I felt almost compelled to roll down my car window and personally shout an apology to all those license plates around me.
“On behalf of the Governor of the state of Georgia and the Mayor of Atlanta, I want to personally apologize to you Texas, to you South Carolina, to you Tennessee, to you Alabama, to you Mississippi, to you North Carolina and especially to you Connecticut…that your journey to your destination, wherever that may be, has found you sitting tangled in this jumbled mess of woven concrete known as the interstates that weave in and out of Atlanta….
I AM SORRY”

This country’s interstate system, which is mostly known as the Eisenhower Interstate System, is celebrating its 50th year of existence. Sitting as I was this morning, debating whether I should simply get out of the car and walk, I was not in any mood to put on a party hat and eat cake.

According to Norman Mineta, the US Transportation Secretary….
“The Interstate highway system is essential to America’s prosperity and way of life. Since its beginning 50 years ago, the Interstate network has provided a vital link for connecting goods to markets here and around the world and bringing together people from our nation’s cities, towns and rural communities.”

The Federal Highway Administration states on its website that…“From the day President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the Interstate System has been a part of our culture as construction projects, as transportation in our daily lives, and as an integral part of the American way of life. Every citizen has been touched by it, if not directly as motorists, then indirectly because every item we buy has been on the Interstate System at some point. President Eisenhower considered it one of the most important achievements of his two terms in office, and historians agree.”

Please excuse my eyes rolling in my head, but I’ve just spent almost 6 hours in my car today traversing said networks of prosperity intended to link my rural world to my dad’s urban world—something that should have consumed all of 2 hours max of some of this time of mine remaining on this earth verses the 6 that I graciously offered up to Father Time with no chance of getting even a millisecond of it back.

I wonder how Ike would have felt sitting for 6 hours on one of these roadways of his when he could have been out playing a round or two of his beloved golf instead?!

Yeah, yeah, I know….the interstate system was touted as being the bees knees for linking our country together…on saving time, money and gas as now point A and point B would be seamlessly connected… smooth and easy sailing…
Those roadway founding fathers had no idea that the commuting public would multiply like rabbits and that the number of cars which would fill up those roadways would eventually become so numerous that the interstates would become obsolete faster than anyone would have cared to guess.

I was having to meet the installers at dad’s today as I had had to get Dad a new dishwasher. The dishwasher is a tale unto itself but today we must focus on one thing and that one thing is the interstate system…at my age, I can only handle one comedy of errors at a time.

The installers were lamenting their commute home from Dad’s this afternoon as there is just no easy way in or out of Atlanta….and I had to concur.

As luck would have it, the dishwasher was up and running just in time for me to hit rush hour traffic. Praying I would make it home before it was time for me to go to bed, plus praying I would make it out alive, I exhaled greatly as I merged into the standing still sea of cars and trucks.
As I precariously snaked my way along the serpentine interweaving of cars, I opted to exit while the getting was good, taking an “old” way home—

This “old way” was in use long before there was a President Eisenhower or a highway system named for him. It was my road home that, as a young man, my grandfather traversed during the early days of his up and coming company—P. H. Nichols and Company.
The road linked him with his clients and customers westward.

This old way, was indeed old.
It was tired and used up like a cheap bottle of wine which had turned to vinegar.
The luster having long faded with bitter notes around each bend in the road.

My aunt called me on my cell phone to check in on how things had been with dad and started the conversation by asking me where I was.
“I’ve just passed Hub Cap City” I unceremoniously replied.
“You got off the interstate?!!” She exclaimed more than asked.
“Why not???…I could either sit on the concrete and pray I wasn’t killed merging onto the next interstate, or I could go a little slower down memory lane….”
Memory lane was calling my name…

This “old highway” was / is very old.
The battered and bruised businesses of days of yore now stand as empty broken shells….
the cheap and tawdry strip malls whispering of grander days all gave new meaning to the word “seedy”.
It was a stretch of road that my mother would have reminded me to lock my doors as my husband would certainly have had a fit that I was even there in the first place.

But this old forgotten “highway” was the same road my dad had taken with his father on his very first grand American road trip.
The same road anyone would have taken prior to 1965 westward out of Atlanta.
It was the time my grandfather, in 1936, had taken his two sons on a grand road trip to Texas and back.
A working trip we would call it today.

As I drove over the great Chattahoochee river, twice, and past roads that whispered of that fateful war between both North and South, reminders of the crossings by those various brave generals and their rebel bands, the signs outside of the used up little cafes and diners boasting of such delectables as “ain’t no thang like a chicken wang”, I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of things that once had been and those things that are trying, in vain, to remain.

Somewhere between the chop shops, the wrecker services, the long closed filling stations and the questionable BBQ joints, of which I make a mental note, I saw the shadows of dusty country roads that had once seen far more cattle crossings than cars.
Kudzu now engulfs and devours the once proud family owned motels offering many a tired traveler a welcoming respite while on the road. Ghosts and specters of the once proud and booming age of Americans and their automobiles.

The old way was no quick way as I ambled behind school buses, dump trucks and those who thought the “back way home” to be quicker than the interstate.
We all thought wrong.
Red lights, stop signs and those “Sunday drivers” on this Monday in no hurry clogged the road coming and going.
Yet I was met around each curve and each dip in the road by the thoughts of a grandfather I had hardly known.
There was something oddly comforting and familiar in this rotting, decaying and dying American artery.

Hours later after having left dad’s, I called letting him know that I had finally made it home in one piece—Dad thanks me for having come to oversee the installation of the dishwasher and worried over how long it took me to get home…
After recalling the cheeky sign for chicken wings, I offer a wearisome yet contented response…
“oh it ain’t no thing…