“Shadow of the Almighty rather than the shadow of death”

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1


(image courtesy decidingvoteblog)

As the fluid situation of all of our lives continues to swirl, the post I had hoped to
write today…a post about looking back at how we Americans have overcome past crises
is now on hold.

We’ve been called into a bit of action—for we are off to fetch the Mayor today
with the Sherrif following in a few more days.

With the schools now shuttering in Georgia, our daughter-in-law the teacher
will find herself at home. She will be home with two little ones, along with
a husband (our son) who is already working from home.
And as a teacher, she will be responsible for conducting virtual learning classes
so in turn, they will need help with the kids….so…
the kids will be coming to us.

For how long is yet to be determined.
Therefore, any blogging will be sporadic.

The Mayor tends to demand a great deal of her staff’s time and energies.
And as a governing official, she has her hands full…as we all do.

But before I leave you, I wanted to offer you some lovely words of hope.

The following message…a message of hope in the face of global adversity,
is from our dear friend The Wee Flea, David Robertson.

Living now in Australia but with family still in Scotland as well as England,
David understands first hand the fretfulness we are all feeling during these
times of uncertainty as well as times of fear…

How do we as Christians respond?

My wish is that you will find comfort in the following words…
the link to the full post is found at the end…

Be blessed, stay well and be safe…

One of my greatest concerns is that the Church far more often reflects the society
than it does lead or love it.
This pandemic is a real test for the reality of our faith and the relevance of our doctrines.
And there is no doubt that our world is being taught some real lessons –
lessons the Christian should, if we believe the Bible, already know.

Humility

We are being taught humility.
Fintan O ‘Toole had a marvelous article in The Irish Times pointing out that we are not
kings of the world and we are not masters of our own fate.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. And one that humanity, in our hubris,
has to keep being taught.

History

We have a lot to learn from history –
not least because we keep forgetting it.
Plague and disease are not new to humanity.
When we look at how the Church in the past has dealt with plague –
whether in ancient Rome, medieval Europe, 19th century London or numerous other examples
we can get a better perspective.
My predecessor in St Peter’s Dundee, Robert Murray McCheyne died aged 29 after he visited
the sick and dying in an epidemic among the poor in the city.
The Church today seems to be more concerned about not getting sick, rather than visiting the sick.

Hebel

I love this Hebrew word.
I don’t really know an exact English equivalent.
It’s what Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes when he describes everything as ‘meaningless’ or ‘vanity’.
It carries the idea of trivial froth.
The coronavirus is exposing our societies’ Hebel.
Sport, wealth, leisure, entertainment –
how light and frothy they appear to be in the light of such a foe!

I was in a barber’s in Sydney yesterday where my fellow clientele would normally have been
outraged at the cancelling of the major sporting events which play such
a large part in our lives, but there was general agreement that it didn’t really matter.
(I loved the sign above the door – “if you’re sick you need a doctor, not a barber!”).

Hope

That is the great missing thing.
Real hope has to be more than the wish that this would soon be over and that we could carry on
with life as normal. This virus has exposed the shallowness of that approach to life.
Where do we find hope?
As always I find it in the word of God.
Let me share with you three readings from this morning.

Proverbs 1:20-33 warns us of what happens when we neglect the wisdom that is calling aloud
“in the public square”.
There will be calamity and “disaster that sweeps over you like a whirlwind”.
The waywardness of the simple and the complacency of fools destroys them but
“whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”.

Then there are the great words of Psalm 91 –
a Psalm that sustained me when I lay on my bed in the ICU unit in Ninewells hospital,
helpless and fearful.
We can rest in the ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ (rather than the shadow of death).
We are covered by his feathers, and his faithfulness is our shield and rampart.
“You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday” (v.5-6).

Finally, my song for this morning was Psalm 139 where,
amongst other things, we are assured that all the days ordained for us were written in the
Lord’s book before they came to be. These verses surely speak to our situation.
Are we listening?
Or are we listening to the voices of doom both within our fearful selves
and our frightened society?

Listening to what God says is not burying our head in the sand;
it is allowing the light to expose our darkness and to point us to a greater and better truth –
to The Rock that is higher than us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
my anxious thoughts survey.
Show me what gives offence to you,
And lead me in your way”

(Psalm 139:23-24 – Sing Psalms – The Free Church of Scotland)

Three Bible passages to Replace Fear of Coronavirus with Hope in God

If necessary for years, if necessary alone

“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo,
and it’s worth fighting for.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

“I indicated a fortnight ago as clearly as I could to the House that the worst possibilities were open,
and I made it perfectly clear then that whatever happened in France would make no difference to the resolve of Britain and the British Empire to fight on,
if necessary for years, if necessary alone.”

Prime Minster Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons / June 4, 1940


(Winston Spencer Churchill)

Sometimes the most unlikely individuals step into the crosshairs of history…
and when they do— we and the world are never the same.

Winston Spencer Churchill was just such an individual.

He was an unlikely candidate to ever be immortalized by anyone–
be it on the stage of his home nation or the stage of greater world at large.

And large he was—large in personality, determination, resolve and grit.

The type of leadership one seeks when finding oneself in the clutches of
a menacing death grip.

Yet he was actually greatly despised by many—by his fellow MPs as well as by a
few world leaders….both Hitler and Stalin to name but a few.

He was often brusk—often lacking the more refined social filters.
He suffered from a life long speech impediment.
He had performed poorly in school, often disappointing his famous father.
He was considered arrogant.
He was half American…a black eye in British aristocracy.
He came across as pompous, a braggart and a loud mouth.
He both drank and smoked entirely too much for most of the more genteel of company.
He loved to talk…most often in excess…and most often about self….
He was thoughtless with his finances, teetering constantly on ruin.
He was often selfish and self-centered and a poor keeper of time,
his as well as others.

And yet he was brilliant.
He was tenacious.
He had humor and he had heart.
He was a visionary who both clearly saw and deeply understood…

And he was a man accused of war mongering by those who I suspect would not
have minded living under the dictatorships of tyranny.

He was a wordsmith….
Gifted with both the written and spoken word….an orator for the ages, Churchill
used both to his keen advantage to rouse a frightened, sagging and crestfallen
nation.

He was shrewd and calculating,
despite being considered often half cocked and ridiculously unreasonable.

And he was the the single undetered force that stood between democracy and death
when no one else was left standing or when those who were still standing, stood quiet.

I saw a trailer for a movie—
a movie for which I’ve not seen any advertisement over….
No commercials, no billboards, no star studded endorsements…..
No hype nor hoopla of which is afforded to those other movies boasting of
fantasy, fiction or filth….

It is a movie that is actually already out in theaters as I also suspect having long
left others.

It is a true story.
A real story.
A story of courage in the face of what appeared to be unavoidable demise.

It is a movie about a man who many know by name only…as that is all they know.

This current generation, so lulled by the complacency of materialism and of the
falsely perceived angst over matters of little to no consequence, have no idea
the gratitude they actually owe this enigma of a man.

Yet this man, who this movie portrays during a particular dark period in time,
is the very man who sacrificed everything within his power just so that you and I
today could enjoy the comforts of our lives….

Theses are a few links to previous posts I’ve offered on behalf of
this legend of a man…..

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/written-words-from-a-father/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/what-he-knew-and-others-chose-to-ignore-deja-vu-or-simply-a-continuum/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/authority-vs-power/

the lull

“By removing the Bible from schools we would be wasting so much time and money
in punishing criminals and so little pains to prevent crime.
Take the Bible out of our schools and there would be an explosion in crime.”

Benjamin Rush,
Signer of the Declaration of Independence

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(hay bales wait in a pasture / Troup Co, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

I know I’m sitting in a time of in-between.
A lull as it were in the frenetic business of life…
both mine and dads.

I’ve been down this road before…
diagnosis, swallowing hard, then waiting…

There is a nervousness in the normalcy to each day’s routine…
as the air is heavily pregnant with an unspoken inevitability.

But to what exactly that inevitable is..is yet to be seen.
For each day has a hidden dread waiting silently behind the averageness of the apparent.

And not only is this indicative of my own current life’s situation,
this same lull is hanging over most, if not all, of Western Civilization

There is a nervous lull, a quiet before an unknown storm…
hanging heavily over the heads of our Christian family.

But what it is exactly… is yet to be seen…
however the sense that something is off-kilter and hanging a bit skewed…
is very much present.

Life is changing…
daring and rapidly spiraling…
with so much being turned upside down on its head.

Yet we go on living…as if things were normal and good…
all the while knowing that something is looming…

Remembering complacency is not our friend…
we’ve watched a dangerous progression…
while turning our backs..

And now the storm clouds are gathering along the horizon
while we wait anxiously in the lull…

Time is truly of the essence…

It is easy to go along with the crowd,
but the one who is committed to living the crucified life will always lean
hard into the wind of opposition and misunderstanding

A. W. Tozer

He said to the crowd:
“When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say,
‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say,
‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky.
How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

Luke 12:54

(ps update since writing…rushing to Atlanta…a potential crisis with Dad…
all prayers appreciated…)

Standards of conduct

“Since the dawn of the Christian era a certain way of life has slowly been shaping itself among the Western peoples, and certain standards of conduct and government have com to be esteemed”
Winston Churchill, radio brodcast to American and London, October 16, 1938

DSCN0153
(griffin / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015

There is a fine line that separates man from beast.
That ever narrowing thread between the human being of intelligence and the animal of wildness.

Oh there are multiple layers of separation that one might argue.
Physical, emotional, psychological, physiological….
As those more lofty scientific minded and behavior specialists among us will no doubt argue and bicker back and forth disputing this fact and that…

But when all is said and done…when the dust has settled and a close inspection has been taken…
we see that thin and narrowing line of true separation is to be found narrowly in man’s ability to manage him or herself with a certain standard of conduct.

The beasts of the land, the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air each seem to act and react with little to no thought toward any sort of standard of conduct…
For theirs is more or less action verses reaction motivated by the need, want and defense of hunger, provocation and mating.

It is true that they may be trained to demonstrate some level of restraint, some sort of rational sorting between this and that, but the bottom line is that training and reward does not equate to the innate ability for rational thinking.

Humans have a wealth of motives, actions and reactions all met and matched by pondering, thinking, discerning, sorting, rationalizing, defending, and determined restraint.

Yet with with an exponentially growing and frightening degree of alarm we should note that the line of man’s standard of conduct, over the past 80 years, dare we say since his very inception, has diminished at a rapid rate.

The actions and reactions of man…the corruption, the lying, the killing, the justification, the murderous terrorism is quickly overtaking the established determined level of civility of conduct found in what was once a deeply rooted foundation to the Judaeo Christian pillars of Western Civilization.

Kingdoms and other forms of human government exist because humanity has fallen away from God.
In human society, the default is always towards anarchy and chaos—as the history of the twentieth centruy in particular amply illustrates. Something must resist and restrain the downward spiral into disorder.
Therefore, God institutes and permits governments.

Excerpt: God and Churchill
Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley

Kings and their kingdoms, for the most part, have given way to parliaments, councils and republics.
Today’s Governments have each been birthed out of the early ancient ruling tribes as man has needed to be reigned in, from more or less…himself.

Rules, laws, standards of conduct have had to be implemented in order to afford man the ability to live in a state of order verses the chaos, anarchy, civil unrest and the destructive every man for himself.

Order had to be established.

Yet in that order we are finding a certain level of complacency.
A desire to not have a single boat rocked.
We like our certain standard of living, our freedom, our choices, our self absorption…
We therefore do not wish to acknowledge the decent of various peoples into the more savage behavior that the world is currently witnessing…
We want to ignore the rise of the wild beasts around us lest we perhaps follow suit…

Be it…
Daesh (ISIS)
Hezbollah
Al-Qaeda
The Taliban
Boko Haram
Hamas
Al-shabaab
The Muslim Brotherhood
or any local mafia, militant or terror group…rearing its ugly head.

From groups to actual nations and Governments who eerily morph or have reverted to a form and time when life and death were easily confused.

The following Washington Post excerpt is based on an interview with CIA Director John Brennan

“More recently, he had to confront his Russian counterparts over evidence that their intelligence operatives have been systematically harassing U.S. diplomats both in Moscow and Europe. According to a Washington Post report, Russian agents have paid journalists to write negative stories about Americans, have followed their kids home from school and, in one case, have even broken into a U.S. defense attache’s home and killed his dog. Brennan says he told his counterparts “in direct terms,” that the behavior was “unacceptable” and “destructive” to the relationship.”

There was a reason why, Winston Churchill, who was not an overtly religious man, was compelled to hold strongly and vowed to fight to the death for the Mosaic laws as issued from the Sovereign Creator…

He knew the importance of the standard of conduct issued by God himself….

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:…
Deuteronomy 28:1…

should we go or should we stay….

“And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too.”
Elizabeth I

RSCN5582
(leftovers from the great wedding of two years ago / Julie Cook / 2014)

The votes have been cast and the people have spoken–much to the disbelief of many other people on this planet of ours…

BREXIT has become reality.

And why pray tell, is this yank daring to wade into the fray across the pond, in the land of over there, you may wonder…

Well, as I’ve stated to a few of my British comrades in arms…. that whereas it would appear that as an American I have no dog in the Brexit fight…it is for that very reason, that I am an American and my closet allies are those of the United Kingdom, that on the contrary, I think we all have a dog in the fight—
as do the other EU countries who are now set for divorce.

It is, however, not for me to ever state how I think those in GB should vote, just as I don’t enjoy being told who I should for for president. But as an outside observer, who is keen on this particular observation, as GB’s decisions do have an effect on this land of their first cousins….I have watched, read, waited and now marvel over the outcome.

The world powers-that-be have each waded deeply into the fray’s waters by telling the people of Great Britain how to vote.
With our President sadly leading the pack.
I apologize on his behalf…that an American president should tell the people of the United Kingdom how to vote on a very in-house sort of referendum…it’s not a very proper thing to do to be sure.

When I was a young new teacher, we had a long standing and powerful superintendent who was considered to be an entrenched member of the good ol boy system within our state’s educational, as well as political, systems.
He and I were not on the same sides of a political fence and I greatly resented each time an election would roll around and he’d make the rounds to each school, calling for a faculty meeting, just in order to tell “his” teachers how to vote…and that was to always cast a vote for his “friend.”

Now I could understand if there had been some sound educational reasons as to why we should be voting for his person of choice…
But for this superintendent, it was strictly a party vote of friends voting for friends—and I for one am not keen to vote for someone just because they are in cahoots with the boss…
especially when I don’t think them worthy of my vote…

I think I was also leery of voting for the entrenched politicians who had made a career out of their office.
For we know what they say…”complacency or familiarity breeds contempt”….
maybe that should read “breeds lethargy and corruption…”

Of recent weeks, I’ve read a great deal concerning the global financial powers-that-be bemoaning or gloating, depending on which side of the fence they line their pockets, what a Brexit would do to the global economy. The likes of George Soros, a man who has profited, or make that made a killing, on the downward slopes of markets before (mainly the Bank of England), is set to cash in once again.
And cash in big—but yet no one really knows how big he cashes in as he doesn’t disclose much…
This man parlays deeply and dangerously into American politics as he gives and gives graciously to the Clintons and their campaigns…He plays his hand in global economies and seems to try to muscle the outcomes of elections as well as markets worldwide—all to his benefit—

The rich and powerful trouble me.
Rich and powerful politicians trouble me.
Even our self-centered, anything and everything goes, millennials trouble me.

I have grown tired, vexed and weary of our political leaders telling us what’s good for us when they haven’t brought about any good themselves…
I am tired of those of the younger generations who whine and complain about those who vote for things such as leaving the EU or vote for politicians that don’t cater to the whims of youth, those young ones whose rallying cry is that “they” have stolen, or are in the process of stealing, our future…”
Yet they are either too preoccupied to be bothered with voting or don’t educate themselves on the bigger picture…

And granted the markets have gone tumbling today…
but it’s that analogy I keep hearing—that the markets are so volatile and actually so unstable that if someone sneezes in one section of the world, every other global market quickly reaches for a tissue lest the sneezing becomes a catastrophic epidemic —sending everyone scrambling for cover…
all of which we are seeing today.
That simply just doesn’t seem very secure in the first place…

So votes like Brexit, which send shock waves into the seemingly untouchable circles of the rich and powerful, the young and the unversed,
as well as for those of us of more average stature,
actually offer a bit of fresh air—
that the people–the average people, still matter.
For good or bad, they still can make a difference.
Their voice, for good or bad, can still be heard…
and that the vote of the everyday person does indeed still matter…

I think Brexit is just one more example of the average, dare I say middle aged and older person, being tired of how this world is being run…

So here’s to adjusting our sails…

The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward

the danger in losing

In a battle all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it’s more dangerous to lose than to win.
George Bernard Shaw

“Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.”
Martin Luther

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(the knights of St Patrick / St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

TO ARMS
TO ARMS…

The nightwatchman has sounded the alarm…

The time has come!

The Fortress is surrounded.

Are you ready?

The time has come to gather up your weaponry…
Take to your positions…
Set your sights
The gauntlet has been thrown down and it is
to you who must pick it up.

You have no choice but to accept this looming fight now before you…
For you have chosen this fate long ago.
You can either fight with intent or
try and flee as those poor souls, unaware…
Who try to flee when it is far too late and hope has long departed.
For yours is a fight unto the death…
the death of all mankind.

Be not lulled into complacency.
The enemy has rallied his army.
The walls will soon be breached.

Perhaps you could ignore it,
Pretending there is no advancement.
You may even attempt to convince yourself that there is no enemy…
just as so many have tried to do in the past…
even as they continue to do now, those who stand by your side, oblivious to the
advancing mayhem.
Maybe it’s just been a lot of hype, a mere distraction.
The alarmists and doomsday crowds are simply beating the war drums….
…again.

However be warned, the enemy is cunning.
He has a myriad of lying spies…
those who enjoy nothing more than to woo you into a sense of false security
The whispered lies of false flattery ooze like silky honey form their lips.

You must not be dismayed nor distracted..
for the battle of all eternity is raging…
Be not fooled nor deceived…
The enemy advances more rapidly than you’ve ever imagined.

To win is but a mere gain
But to lose will be a never ending agony with no hope of salvation…
You have been warned,
you have been called…
Take to your post now, for the Prince of princes has called His army to defend the kingdom
And you have been chosen to fight….

He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
Daniel 8:25

Doing the right thing is never easy, but must be done. . .

“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth”
Thomas Fuller

“There are stars who’s light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen appart. There are people who’s remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.”
The Talmud

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.
Dante Alighieri

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(a tiger swallowtail visits the sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ever since we were young, we were always told to “do the right thing”. . .
It seemed to be so much easier when we were younger. . .

As we aged, growing older and it doesn’t appear much wiser, the right thing seemed to become a bit blurry, out of focus and at times, difficult to discern.
We became pressed with increasing dilemmas.
The “right thing” could at times be hurtful to ourselves or worse, to others. . .
It became too much and overwhelming, it turned out to be more than we could bear.
It often seemed as if our very lives could fall into jeopardy over this whole doing the right thing business.
What were we to do?
What were our choices?
Doing the right thing became harder as doing not the right thing became easier.
“What’s a little fudging here and there” we’d rationalize.
We found ourselves justifying what they don’t know won’t hurt them, or rather, we meant us, as in ourselves.
A blind eye, became key.
Turning the proverbial blind eye to the those trivial details known as facts became common place.
Got the ol head stuck down in the sand, looking the other way and ignoring it all, hoping it would all just go away, leaving us and everyone else alone.

Complacency became our safe and happy place, our easy way out.

Yet the stakes, while we were busy not watching, have snuck in under the wire, growing bigger and higher.

To ignore it would be criminal.
To wish it all away, impossible.
To pretend it doesn’t exist, damning.

The children are dying and the world is bleeding and we can no longer afford not doing the right thing. . .

Part-PAR-Par8261894-1-1-0

“A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of an unidentified migrant child, lifting it from the sea shore, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum, Turkey, early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. A number of migrants are known to have died and some are still reported missing, after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized.
(both images courtesy AP)

Full story:
http://news.yahoo.com/distraught-father-of-drowned-syrian-boy-recounts-ill-fated-journey-191139707.html

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in you
Deuteronomy 15:11

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
1 John 3:17