woe to the nation that turns it back on God

But to dance in the streets because you had just given mothers the right to kill their
own unborn child is not civilized.
It is barbaric.
Rather than progressing into being a more tolerant,
open and respectful society,
Ireland has regressed over 1500 years into his pre-Christian pagan past,
where the weakest members of society are not tolerated and not respected.
They are destroyed.

David Robertson


(Lady’s view, Killarney National Park, Killarney, Co Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It’s been almost four years since I went on my first and only trip to Ireland.

As it was my first trip to the Emerald Isle, I went with a deep sense of anticipation.
At the time, however, I wasn’t exactly certain as to what that anticipation actually was
or why I even felt it.

I am of Irish / Scotch descent and so trodding where my kith and kin once trod was of
course exciting.
My great-grandparents had long since departed this island nation and thus in turn set
in motion my own eventual homecoming…
a continuum of time linking generations of people who never had known one another,
and yet, who were forever bound one to another by a common piece of land.

And little did I know it at the time, but this would be the last trip that my aunt and I would ever take together.

So in hindsight, with both of us wandering about where other members of our family
had long since wandered, we had each received a special gift that was yet
to be fully appreciated.

At the time of the trip, my life was fractious at best.
I was in the midst of caring for both my dad and stepmother, each of whom was suffering
from varying stages of dementia. The trip was just a few months before Dad was to be
diagnosed with cancer…a diagnosis that would eventually take me to a very dark place…

And so I went on this trip before I was at my total breaking point but I was certainly
living in the rising crescendo of such a moment.
And so now I know that this was why God was calling me to this particular place
at this particular time.

It was because of all of this, as well as what I could not yet see that was waiting for me…
that this particular trip, along with three powerful words that I was to hear at the end
of the trip that would, in turn, be a turning point in my own life’s journey…

I had planned the trip a full year in advance before I ever knew how bad things
would be with Dad.
I had no way of knowing that when the long-awaited day finally arrived for our departure
that I would be more than a bit reluctant to go due to my caregiving duties.

I was worried sick about leaving yet grateful at the same time to be getting away.

I was running away and I was glad.

In my lifetime, I had traveled a good bit but for whatever reason, never to Ireland…
Yet unbeknownst to me at the time, it was to Ireland where I was destined to be.

Some would say it was just the perfect aligning of the stars, I would say God
was leading me right where He wanted me to be…leading me to a place in which I could
actually, hear Him speak.

As a history nut, I was excited to visit Ireland because I knew of her rich historic past
and Christian heritage.
That ancient intertwining of a rich Celtic tradition woven into the fabric of the
Chrisitan faith.
I also knew of the wealth of gifts Ireland had given Western Civilization through
her music, written word, song, and dance…

This once pagan windswept land, full of the last vestiges of both Viking and druid alike,
remains a mysterious land steeped in both legend and lore.
It is also a land that is home to more sheep than there are people.

And so it was in this land of my heritage of both myth and mystery that God spoke to me in
such a powerful and palpable way that I knew without any doubt, that it was Him
who had brought me here.

The words were bold and audible and I knew that even though the words were uttered by
another (thank you Paul), they were being spoken by God…to me.

So naturally, once I was back home,
I wrote about a post about hearing those three simple words…
“Be at peace”

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/stop-theres-another-sheep/

And maybe it’s because I saw that glimpse of God around each bend of lonely road and had
actually heard His words riding on the winds, winds that come sweeping in from off
the ocean…that the recently passed vote in Ireland to legalize abortion is
breaking my heart.

Yet it’s just not the vote itself that is breaking my heart but its the way in which the
Irish themselves are celebrating the vote which is so heartbreaking.

Our Scottish friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson shares my dismay.

” Celebrating the right to kill children in the womb as though it were a football match…
we are the champions…’we are a better country’ and yelling at the pro-life people
‘choice, choice, choice’ (what choice does the baby have?).
This is the new regressive Ireland.

David offers a rich in-depth yet extreemly melancholy observational post regarding the
passing of the vote as well as to the reaction of the voters…
a reaction that seems almost far worse than the vote itself.

This once predominately Chrisitan and very Catholic Nation was rocked to her core by a
heinous betrayal from the very Chruch to which she, this nation, was so grounded and anchored…
And so I just can’t help but think that such a vote and ensuing celebration is in some sick way
how the people have sought out their own twisted sense of revenge.

Yet I know that God still breathes His life’s breath upon this land, her people and her unborn.
But I am also reminded that God will turn His favor from the nation that turns herself from Him…

And so all I can do is pray for Ireland.

In order to prevent this slide into barbarity Ireland needs a new St Columba.
Ireland needs a Christian revival.
Pray for those who are engaged in church renewal and church planting in that once great country.
Pray that the anti-abortion campaign will continue and that the Church of Jesus Christ
will continue to reach out and show compassion to those who are considering abortion
and those who have had abortions.
May Ireland flourish by the preaching of the Word.
How long, O Lord, how long?

Ireland Regresses; Sunday, Bloody Sunday

the waiting found in unction

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’…
I am grateful that Jesus cried out those words, because it means that I need never fear to
cry them out myself.
I need never fear, nor feel any sense of guilt, during the inevitable moments of forsakenness.
They come to us all.
They are part of the soul’s growth.”

Madeleine L’Engle

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((Killarney National Park / County Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

Sometimes it’s difficult seeing that which waits ahead…
or that which is just beyond our focus…

For the roadblocks, pitfalls, snarls and snares that seem to be directly blocking our path…
loom ever so large impeding our field of vision…
they are so demanding and are so draining that we lose sight of what will be
further down the road, beyond where we are now….

They vie for our full attention making us temporarily blind to everything and anything else.
Life is lived as if in a dark tunnel with only a tiny snippet of light which seems
so terribly far away.

Maybe it’s the heavy baggage from the past…
that which seems to frustratingly and relentlessly hold us prisoner….
Tied as a dead weight… hanging stubbornly from our necks.

Or maybe it’s something else….

It was a long weekend…which is now giving way to what will most likely be a long week,
for and with Dad….for me…for us all….

I go daily because he asks me to come.
Yet on the rare day that I stay behind in order to pick up my own life’s pieces,
my thoughts, worries, concerns are there…with him.

I stay later and later because he asks me why must I go so soon….
as if my sitting for hours on end by his bed should be so soon….

His wife no longer knows that she is his wife…
as dementia now erases that later part of her life.

Decisions, hard decisions, will soon be made.

I battle a long and often harrowing drive to and from…
Sitting and waiting…watching… Dad…
as all he can do is to lay there and wait.

Weakly and barely audible, I hear an odd question…
“Do people think I’m nice?”
Where did that come from I wonder….
“Of course people think you’re nice Dad, why wouldn’t they?”
“I don’t know”…as his words trail off as the heavy lids fight to stay open…

Yep, it’s going to be long…as it continues being hard…as it only seems to grow harder and more difficult with each passing day…

The priest came Sunday to anoint Dad and to pray the prayer of extreme unction…

And so now,
in the mystery of that prayer of transition,
we find ourselves now resting and waiting….
As Dad and God work things out….

“As you are outwardly anointed with this holy oil,
so may our heavenly Father grant you the inward anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Of his great mercy, may he forgive you your sins, release you from suffering,
and restore you to wholeness and strength.
May he deliver you from all evil, preserve you in all goodness,
and bring you to everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

black sheep

“America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.
That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in
the Declaration of Independence;
perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics
and also great literature.
It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice,
that governments exist to give them that justice,
and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism,
and it does also by inference condemn atheism,
since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom
these equal rights are derived.
Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of
such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally
God whose claim is taken more lightly.
The point is that there is a creed,
if not about divine, at least about human things.”

G.K. Chesterton

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(folkart ceramic black sheep my aunt found at a crafts show in North Carolina)

Bah, Bah, a black Sheep,
Have you any Wool?
Yes merry I Have,
Three Bags full,
One for my Master,
One for my Dame,
One for the Little Boy
That lives down the lane

(the original 1744 English Nursery Rhyme from the Tom Thumb’s Pretty Song Book)

Anyone who knows me….
knows I have a thing for sheep.
Why, I don’t know…I’ve just always been drawn to them….

And it must be noted that it is those with either a black face or those entirely black
that speak most sweetly to my heart.

Add to that…that it seems black sheep have always gotten a really bad rap…
so perhaps there’s a bit of ‘supporting the underdog’ in my affinity….

Outsiders and or outcasts of a family have always been referred to as a black sheep….

In ancient times black lambs were killed by the farmer or shepherd as they were associated
with being like the devil as both were black in color.
Even ancient Greeks associated black sheep with Hades, the ruler of the underworld,
and would in turn sacrifice black sheep in hopes of currying favor while hoping to ward
off any unforeseen visits by this keeper of Hell…

Consider even the seemingly benign old English Nursey Rhyme, Bah Bah Black Sheep

baa_baa_black_sheep_pg_8
(Edmund Caldwell illustration 1880)

What was first published in 1744 as part of the oldest recorded collection of children’s
Nursery Rhymes, Tom Thumb’s Pretty Song Book,
is included the sing song tale of a little black sheep along with his wool…

Yet it is thought that the rhyme’s original intent was actually more of a political comment
on the wool tax of that day’s time…

And then in the late 20th century it seems a darker and more sinister twist took place
with our little children’s rhyme as it was seen to possess negative racial connotations.
Hence leading it to become its own black sheep of the nursery world….

Pity really….and even quite ridiculous….

As this is a prime example of how far we’ve detached ourselves from reality…
it is a prime example as to how our crazy minds have been sadly evolving…
spiraling down into the depths of sheer lunacy and madness….
As we’ve allowed a sweet little children’s rhyme to become a poster child for all things
negative or racist…

Shame on us all for being so damned sensitive….

I say this because I continue hearing and seeing all sorts of references to our becoming a
fascist Nation.

Didn’t I just touch on this little observation last week??
Did I not try explaining as to why we are not???
And yet it seems as if no one is listening…

Sigh…

If anyone really wants to understand about fascist regimes…
any book ever written offering first hand accounts of life in a Nazi occupied nation or
of life lived and lost in a concentration camp…
well, that would be the best and most accurate description of what fascism,
along with its spiraling nature of uncontrolled brutality, is all about.

Our current life here in the US is not, and I repeat, IS NOT,
an example of living under a Fascist regime.

The very notion that people are able to yell and scream at, to or about the president
and the government…while not suddenly disappearing…
never being heard from again…
should be proof enough…

That people may be hateful to one another, intolerable of one another, that they may
defame their leaders or their fellow countrymen, that they can throw things through
windows, spray paint buildings, set fires to cars, and basically destroy everything
and anything in their wake that is neither owned nor possessed by them….

That people are actually allowed to go crazy and ballistic over various speakers wanting
to speak…as these certain groups of people have now decided who will be allowed to
experience the First Amendment and who will not…
while taunting law officials, while wearing masks, while causing all manner of chaos
and havoc… with little to no repercussions…should be proof enough.

That you aren’t having to poison your own pets as an attempt to end their lives in what you
consider to be an act of mercy because you live in fear that when the authorities come for
you, you won’t have to worry about what will be happening to your pets when you
are hauled off….

That you haven’t had to surrender your technology or communication devices because
the powers that be have deemed them to be a danger to the state.

That you have not had your business seized, your home seized, your family incarcerated
because you were considered anti nationalistic…

That you are not afraid when you lay your head down on your pillow at night that there
will be a knock on your door demanding your sons or daughters be handed over in order
to the do their duty for the State while knowing you may never see them again….

Rather instead we are all basically allowed to be selfish, hateful, intolerant, violent,
mean, vile, vulgar, dangerous, inflammatory…
as well as…
secretive, selective, extravagant, flamboyant, pompous…
All behaviors which have been not only tolerated but to a great deal, protected…

that IS NOT fascism nor is it living in a fascist nation…

dscn0850
(little black sheep Co Kerry, Ireland sheep farm / Julie Cook / 2015)

Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.
“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.

Isaiah 65:16-17

May there be…

“I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches;
and he to whom that is given need ask no more.”

Henry Fielding

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(the grounds of Ross Castle / Co Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
dance,
praise
and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”

Teresa of Ávila

Be my refuge

“Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place,
your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer,
your saviour, your guide? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security.”

Elisabeth Elliot

“Let all your thoughts be with the Most High, and direct your humble prayers unceasingly to Christ.
If you cannot contemplate high and heavenly things, take refuge in the Passion of Christ,
and love to dwell within His Sacred Wounds.
For if you devoutly seek the Wounds of Jesus and the precious marks of His Passion,
you will find great strength in all troubles.”

Thomas à Kempis

dscn1125
(view behind Ross Castle, Killarney National Park, Co Kerry, Ireland, Julie Cook/ 2015)

In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed.

In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
Incline Your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come;
You have given commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man,
For You are my hope;

O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.
By You I have been sustained from my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother’s womb;
My praise is continually of You.

I have become a marvel to many,
For You are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all day long.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
Do not forsake me when my strength fails.

Psalm 71:1-9

Lovely waiting

Our Father which art in heaven, we Thy children are often troubled in mind, hearing within us at once the affirmations of faith and the accusations of conscience. We are sure that there is in us nothing that could attract the love of One as holy and as just as Thou art. Yet nothing in us can win Thy love, nothing in the universe can prevent Thee from loving us. Thy love is uncaused and undeserved. Thou art Thyself the reason for the love wherewith we are loved. Help us to believe the intensity, the eternity of the love that has found us. Then love will cast out fear; and our troubled hearts will be at peace, trusting not in what we are but in what Thou hast declared Thyself to be.
Amen

A. W. Tozer

DSCN1139
(swans at Ross Castle / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Love…a word which rolls easily and readily off the tongue.
Four simple letters offered to one and all with causal abandon.
Yet the question hangs heavy over humankind… what exactly does it mean?
What does love mean within the realm of life for each human being?

The news is rife with the stories of those who apparently have either never known
or have sadly forgotten….Love…
There are those who would argue that theirs, those who torment their fellow man, is but self love…
Love that is self obsessed and self contained…
yet the brazen heinous crimes speak of anything but love…
the lack of
the void of,
the emptiness of,
the opposite of…

As in…
Hate
Loathing
Disgust
Contempt…
of others and of self….

Is it perhaps because certain members of this large family of humankind simply believes themselves unworthy and less than?
Perhaps having never been shown nor having ever witnessed Love being demonstrated?
Is that then to be the argument for our hate, our crimes, our violence?

Yet it is there….
It is there…waiting.
It has always been there.
It was there when the light fell from grace…
It was was there in the garden when the two hid from The One
It was there when the Laws were issued and quickly forgotten
It was there when the innocents were slaughtered
It was there when the blind saw, the deaf heard and the lame walked
It was there after the mocking, the beating, the humiliating…
It was there during the anguish and in the silence of the parting of the last breathe
It was there in the blackness of nothingness
It has been to hell…and back….

and it waits still…

Through the violence, the guns, the pain, the sickness, the loneliness, the selfishness, the anger, the resentment, the isolation, the mob mentality, the gangs, the rapes, the shootings, the stealing, the looting, the psychoticness, the brokeness, the hate…

It is there…
having never left…

It waits.
It waits for you,
for me,
for them…

It waits….

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

1 John 4:16

Homesick

“I felt a pang — a strange and inexplicable pang that I had never felt before.
It was homesickness.
Now, even more than I had earlier when I’d first glimpsed it, I longed to be transported into that quiet little landscape, to walk up the path, to take a key from my pocket and open the cottage door, to sit down by the fireplace, to wrap my arms around myself, and to stay there forever and ever.”

Alan Bradley

“Give me the waters of Lethe that numb the heart,
if they exist,
I will still not have the power to forget you.”

Ovid

God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.

Meister Eckhart

DSCN0881
(sheep on a teaching farm / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

A fitful night…
dreams seemingly more real than not…
To wake…
On and off, over and over…
as the dream simply picks up where it left off.
A continuous movie playing out inside my head, all night long…

Trying desperately hard to find you, to call you…
Yet I can’t reach you.
I am there, not here…
but I am lost…
I need for you to come find me…
for it is only you who can help me….

Yet why is that?
Why do I seek you and your help?
Are there not others…?
Others even more capable…
Those who are more near and not so far away…?

Waking….
Perplexed, exhausted, wondering…
What ever does it mean…
or not mean…?
As the thought,
the memory,
the utter physical uneasiness…
hangs heavy over the day.

Homesick, yet here at home.
Missing and longing…
Aching for something else…
someplace else…
something more…
Yet what could it be…and why…?

You are there and I am here.
A melancholy heaviness clouds my thoughts.
It was all but a mere brief crossing of paths.
Yet with a lasting effect.
There was a change.
Deep and profound…
And I am the better for it…
Yet there remains a yearning, a hunger, an aching…
for more…

So very much more.
For hearing,
for seeing,
for feeling,
for learning.

Yet frustration is found in the simple being…
of so very far away…

My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26:9

Be at Peace

“I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all;
but whatever I have placed in God’s hands,
that I still possess.”

Martin Luther

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(a boat lined canal outside the grounds of Ross Castle, County Kerry, Killarney, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day.
Either he will shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

Francis de Sales
(Feast Day, January 24th)

wisdom from the road

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers

“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there.”
Lewis Carroll

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(somewhere along the road in County Kerry near Dingle, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Anyone who has ever spent any time on the road driving here, there and yon knows all too well that there is a real love–hate relationship between driving and journeying from the proverbial point A to point B.

Whether you spend time commuting each day to and from work or school, or you make your living driving, or you drive the roadways and the byways for recreation…or you simply have to get from one place to another…
I think most all of us would agree that there are many life lessons, as well as much wisdom, to be gleaned from the simple act of driving down any one of life’s many roads…

One of the most important lessons we can either learn the easy way or discover the hard way is to make certain that we know which direction we are to be headed because one thing is always certain…
Life is full of obstacles.

As there will always be those situations, issues and looming crises that will get in our way no matter how hard we try to avoid them…that’s just the way life is…

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(cows crossing somewhere on a road in County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Which in turn will give way to the fact that there will always be a need for patience…
For good or bad, patience will be necessary and it will be sorely tested along Life’s many traversed roads.
Blood pressures will rise and frustration will shoot through the roof…
And no matter how hard one tries, often times there will simply be no other way of getting around or avoiding certain troublesome moments in this thing called life, other than to resolutely meet it all head on…

Also we must be mindful that there will be those dark and lonely stretches of road when we will find ourselves unfortunately isolated and very much alone.

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(somewhere along the road near Slieve League, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Maybe we’ll have hit a rough patch in the road… a bit of bad luck or have found that life does not discriminate when it want’s to be cruel and difficult. By keeping both hands on the wheel and eyes focused on the task at hand… will not only be required but most necessary as we labor to keep things steady and safely in the middle of the road as we avoid the ruts, soft shoulders and unavoidable potholes during those lonely and dark days.
During such times, our resolve will be greatly tried…keeping steady and focused on our journey, knowing that we indeed have an ultimate destination will help to keep us going forward.

Additionally we must be mindful that there be those times when we will find ourselves face to face with oncoming trouble.
As in it simply can’t be helped.

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(heading up the road somewhere in County Kerry near Dingle, Ireland / Julie Cook /2015)

Sometimes we are blindsided, not knowing what’s hit us…
Other times, we will see it coming, knowing that the inevitable is headed right for us… and that there’s no avoidance, no running, no hiding…for the colliding of two separate forces cannot always be helped.
Our only recourse is to simply square our shoulders, set our jaw, point the wheel straight ahead, put the pedal to the metal and face it all bravely head on…for the character of any man or woman is forged in the fiery trials of Life.

And just when we think we’re back to our mindless cruising, merrily scooting back down the road, there comes along the strange and unusual diversion…something most often out of the blue, which averts our attention…perhaps something very much unwelcomed…some sort of siren’s song luring us to an unnecessary demise…or perhaps it is something welcomed yet untimely in its arrival, only working to delay our progress….focus, we must remain focused!

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(a wandering sheep along the road somewhere in County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

As once again, the important key is knowing how to handle any and all distractions…knowing how we will handle ourselves in all situations is best as it provides consistency even in the face of the unknown…
We mustn’t allow any of it to steal our focus, our determination, our resolve…
Rather, we must simply shift gears, turn our attention back to the task at hand and get back up to speed…

Yet no matter how harrowing a drive and or journey may be, we can never know with certainty, what waits around each bend or turn or curve…so preparation will be constantly tested…

So may we all remember that when it comes to heading out on one of Life’s many roads, even for just a quick sort of errand, being focused and prepared will make any sort of drive more bearable as well as enjoyable…
Happy travels one and all….

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(somewhere along the road in County Kerry near Killarney, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16

No bounds

“When we say God is infinite we mean that He knows no bounds”
A.W. Tozer

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(Off the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook /
2015)

Grace…
Boundlessness
Endless
Without ceasing
No limits
Beyond
Ad infinitum

Love
Forgiveness
Healing
Hope
I AM…

“Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.”
Abounding sin is the terror of the world, but abounding grace is the hope of mankind. However sin may abound it still has its limit, for it is the product of finite minds and hearts; but God’s “much more” introduces us to infinitude. Against our deep creature-sickness stand God’s infinite ability to cure.

A.W. Tozer