the rocks will cry out

“In order for the inner man to be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit,
the children of God must discharge their responsibility.
They need to yield specifically to the Lord, forsake every doubtful aspect in their life,
be willing to obey fully God’s will, and believe through prayer that
He will flood their spirit with His power.”

Watchman Nee


(Anchorage Daily News image of the latest damge from this past week’s earhtquake)

Remember yesterday how I shared that Twitter was attempting to ban both
The Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden
(well, they already did try with Gavin but I believe he’s been “reinstated”)
as well as the Scottish pastor David Robertson…??

And remember how I offered not only the link to David’s open letter to Twitter but I
shared this quote…part of David’s ending response in his letter…??

“Meanwhile I will continue to use your platform to undermine your hateful
and irrational ideology.
And I will do it by using logic and love – the love of the Logos.
We don’t need Twitter (or Facebook, or government or the media) to be able to speak of Christ.
And you will never silence us.
Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out!

And it was that very last line that has stayed with me as I’ve ruminated over those words
since I read it…
“Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out.”

“the very rocks would cry out”…is a nod to the verse in Luke 19:40 when Jesus,
at what we now refer to as Holy Week, was entering into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey
while those around him laid palms at his feet, hailing him as a king…
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Well, the Pharisees rebuked these adulations…
they found such to be ill-fitting even sacrilegious telling Jesus to silence “his” people…
However, it was the response by Jesus that was so telling…
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

I’ve thought a great deal about that line since having read it yesterday…
and of course, I’ve thought about it every time I’ve either read it or heard it.

Imagine that visual image.

Stones, rocks, boulders all crying out…crying out the greatness of the Lord.

Does not our earth already cry out with groanings that are so deep and beyond our understanding?
Cries which surpass our comprehension?

Such as the image above of the Highway in Alaska?

A road buckles, as the earth opens up with audible groans and physical cries.

Does the earth not open up…leaving us like frightened children,
looking for help which is beyond us?

Of course we call such opening up and such “crying out” merely plate tectonics.

Yet do we not, when those plates slide and collide, causing devastation to the surface,
do we not cry out in fear?
Do we not cry out to be delivered from that which we cannot control?

So who are we to say that the rocks are not currently crying out.
That the earth is not yielding to her Creator?

And so as we enter into this new year of the Chruch calendar, with the beginning of Advent,
we are reminded, once again, that all of creation slumbers in darkness awaiting
the light of Salvation…

Perhaps it would behoove us to listen to the earth and her cries…as the earth might be
more aware of the coming of the Redeemer than we are ourselves.

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens,
and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it,
the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything,
and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Nehemiah 9:6

Seize us oh Lord

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back.
Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness.
Let us love.
Let us run.”

St. Augustine


(flower stall / Zurich, Switzerland /Julie Cook / 2018)

“When you sit down to eat, pray.
When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you.
If you drink wine,
be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness.
When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes.
When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars,
throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way.
Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises,
when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God,
who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know,
love and praise their Creator.”

St. Basil the Great

The Creator

“To argue that God is “trying His best” to save all mankind,
but that the majority of men will not let Him save them,
is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent,
and that the will of the creature is omnipotent.”

Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God


(Le Mont-Saint-Michel / Normandy, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Now, may our God be our hope.
He Who made all things is better than all things.
He Who made all beautiful things is more beautiful than all of them.
He Who made all mighty things is more mighty than all of them.
He Who made all great things is greater than all of them.
Learn to love the Creator in His creature, and the maker in what He has made.”

Saint Augustine, p. 136
An Excerpt From
Augustine Day by Day


(a view of the “chruch on the rock” at low tide / Julie Cook / 2018)

looking for saints in all kinds of places

This is the very perfection of a man,
to find out his own imperfections.

St. Augustine


(St. Augustine of Hippo painting by Philippe de Champaigne, 1650)

Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise;
your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning.
And so we humans, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you –
we who carry our mortality about with us,
carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud.
Yet these humans, due part of your creation as they are, still do long to
praise you.
You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy,
because you have made us and drawn us to yourself,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

The passage above appears to have been written by a person who was painfully aware
of his own mortality and sins yet yearns, nay longs,
to be in the arms of the Beloved Creator.

And so perhaps it might be hard for those of us reading these long ago penned words
to imagine that this person was not always so deeply attuned to
living life worshiping the Triune God.

For the past couple of days, my posts have veered toward the idea of saints.
No particular reason really…and when there seems to be no real rhyme nor reason for my
ramblings, that usually just means the Holy Spirit is at work and not so much
me.

Yesterday’s post offered two quotes summing up the notion of sainthood quite nicely…
yet it was especially the Kierkegaard quote which serves to remind us that God’s mastery
of creation is one thing, but to be able to make saints from sinners…
well, that’s something else altogether.

Augustine of Hippo…
a giant when it comes to thought and theory has been studied down through the ages by
all sorts of students—from theologians and philosophers to literates and historians…
many of whom have been Believers and many who have not.

Yet Augustine was not always one of Christendom’s most learned and revered theologian
turned saint.

According to Wikipedia,
“His first insight into the nature of sin occurred when he and a number of friends stole
fruit they did not want from a neighborhood garden.
He tells this story in his autobiography, The Confessions.
He remembers that he did not steal the fruit because he was hungry,
but because “it was not permitted.”
His very nature, he says, was flawed.
‘It was foul, and I loved it.
I loved my own error—not that for which I erred, but the error itself.”
From this incident, he concluded the human person is naturally inclined to sin
and in need of the grace of Christ.”

Augustine went on to have a long-lasting affair with a woman who bore him an
illegitimate son.
He later broke off that relationship in order to marry a 10-year-old heiress but had to wait
two years until she was of legal marrying age.
During his wait, he took up with another concubine.

Yet the time came in which Augustine abandoned all concubines and fiancees alike
lamenting“that he was not a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust”

Eventually, at the age of 31, Augustine broke off all his relationships with these
various women because he, like many before and after him, had his Road to Damascus moment.
He was struck from his lofty, self-absorbed, carnal way of living by the
One True Omnipotent God who literally called out to him..

As Augustine later shared
“his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to
“take up and read” (Latin: tolle, lege), which he took as a divine command to open the Bible
and read the first thing he saw.

Augustine read from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans –
the “Transformation of Believers” section, consisting of chapters 12 to 15 –
wherein Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers,
and the believers’ resulting behaviour.
The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans chapter 13,
verses 13 and 14, to wit:

“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness,
not in strife and envying,
but put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

It was at this moment that his life turned.

Augustine eventually penned an autobiography of sorts which many of us,
trained in the classics were at some point, required to read— Confessions.

It is from the pages of his Confessions that we read these beautiful and deeply
haunting words:

Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,
Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee.
Thou wast with me when I was not with Thee.
Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness.
Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispel my blindness.
Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.
For Thyself Thou hast made us,
And restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease.
Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new.

And thus what we have learned is that many of those who are known to us today as saints
seem to have, at some point or other figured things out.

Namely, that life isn’t all about them.

But life, rather, is a yearning…and that yearning is the created’s longing to be
one with the Creator.

Some seem to understand this better than others.

Many have been rogues and scallywags.
Some have been liars and drunkards.
Some have been rich and arrogant.
Some started out as cowards and turncoats yet became brave and true.
And some will simply be known only to God and God alone.

And so with all this talk about saints and sinners, I am struck by a current circus of sorts.

Brett Kavanaugh, the latest Supreme Court nominee, has been in the center of a maelstrom.

I don’t know much about him, but from what legal experts and judges on ‘both sides of the
aisle’ have said, he is a stellar wealth of legal prowess.
A fair and just man who is deeply knowledgeable with regards to right and wrong.

Yet his experience, his record, his knowledge, his examples don’t seem to matter to
this pack of hearing committee members who are foaming at the mouth,
as they rip into this man for the simple reason that they hate the man who nominated him.

Desperate Democrats are grasping at ugly straws to do their darndest to stop this nominee’s
chance of confirmation…even resorting to highschool hearsay.

And in so doing…these very politicians who so vehemently cling to the separation of
Church and State and find themselves cringing over the notion that their precious
Roe v Wade would be overturned… these worshipers of all things cultural and secular
now seem to be seeking a saint…a saint who doesn’t exist.
As all of this is just one more example of the irony of man standing at odds with
his blinding self-serving pride.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micha 6:8

Really now? You don’t say??? I think we need a history lesson!

The First Amendment was not written to protect the people of this country
from religious values;
it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.

Ronald Reagan

As time allows, while I find myself sitting and waiting for this appointment
or that appointment, I have tried desperately to steal those precious moments of self
and empty time to read a bit further into David Fiorazo’s book The Cost of our Silence.

The following excerpt is truly an amazing tasty tidbit of what is, for all intent purposes,
a lynchpin of lost history.

The excerpt explores the long ago written words that shed a long-ignored light onto a
dark assumption…an assumption we have allowed to become the sole driving wedge
piercing deeply into the heart of Christianity in America.

It was never meant to be what it has become as it was in actuality a mere excerpt from a letter…

And yet our justice system, Government, legal eagles and every atheist in the county
have each had a hand in finagling this small section of a letter into becoming something so much
more than what it was ever intended to be.

Mr. Fiorazo explains…
There are citizens today who still don’t realize the phrase “separation of church and state”
does not exist anywhere in the United States Constitution.

Earlier drafts of what became the Frist Amendment are valuable in understanding our founders’
intent.

Emphasizing the fact that denomination was one of the words proposed
when drafting the meaning of the Establishment Clause is vital to comprehending their objective.

They wanted complete and unhindered freedom of religion, which to them meant Christianity.
But they did not want a specific denomination to
hold more power, control, or influence than any other denomination.”

The majority of colonial settlers were Christians…all of one denomination or another
with eventually a handful of Jews making their way to settle in Savannah Georgia.
As Savannah boasts the oldest Temple in the United States.

As the 1787 Constitutional Convention got underway, it was Benjamin Franklin’s
suggestion that participants kneel in prayer.
Franklin stated:
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live,
the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—
that God Governs in the affairs of men.
And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice,
is it possible that an empire can rise with his aid?”

Mr. Fiorazo notes that “Fifty-two of the fifty-six signers of our
Declaration of Independence were deeply committed,
orthodox Christians as well as all thirty-nine signers of the Constitution.
The others agreed the Bible was God’s divine truth and that He personally intervenes
in the lives of people.”

And despite what many folks will tell us today about our founding fathers and their faith,
or lack thereof, they were all either quoted or wrote at one point or another, as referring
to God as Creator…and yes even the deist Thomas Jefferson.

Yet the worry was that the majority of these men were members of the Episcopal Chruch,
and just as in England with the Anglican Chruch, they feared that
the Episcopal church could become a similar state church.

Thomas Jefferson seems to be the person that the Left cites as responsible for
putting up that so-called “wall of separation” between church and state.
Jefferson was not even one of the framers of the First Amendment;
and yet, court cases have been built on this idea,
and laws have been changed because of a false premise.
He used those infamous words just one time–in an 1802 letter to Baptists in Connecticut
who wrote him. they were concerned about their ability to express their faith publicly.
Jefferson wrote back to ensure them that government could not lawfully get in their way.
He also explained the state ould not enforce or favor a single religion.

In the Declaration of Independence, God is mentioned or referred to four times:
as Creator who gives us “certain unalienable rights,” as a sovereign legislator
(Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God), the ultimate authority as
“the Supreme Judge of the world,”
and having faith (a firm reliance on)
in the guardian and protector of mankind (Divine Providence).
Keep this in mind when Jefferson mentions natural rights referring to religious
expression in his reply to the Danbury Baptists.

Isn’t it interesting with all the historical diaries, documents,
and writings available to us, not one of the ninety framers of the Constitution
ever mentioned the phrase “separation of Chruch and state?”
It should amaze us that the very amendment they intended as a restraint upon
government to keep out of religious matters is used today by activists
to hinder the expression of Christianity.

Known as the Establishment Clause,
this amendment was to prevent an official state religion,
but this is most critical to see:
It also prohibits the federal government from favoring non-religion over religion.
Clearly, atheists are winning more court cases today as a result of
judicial irresponsibility.”

[Think Episcopal Chruch as a state-run church]

And so we now see the importance of actually looking back while we continue looking
forward as we learn that what we’ve simply taken for granted is not so simple after all.

Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not of this world.
If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting,
that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

John 18:36 ES

fusion

“To join two things together there must be nothing between them or
there cannot be a perfect fusion.
Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be,
without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between,
just as God loves us without anything in between.”

St. Catherine of Siena


(image from the Passion of the Christ)

The word fusion, according to Merriam Webster, is defined as a union by or as if by melting:
such as a: a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole

A merging of diverse, distinct, separate elements—
Merging…as in combining, blending, joining together… a union…
the binding of two pieces in order to become one.

That is what God desires…a fusion of created to Creator.

But this is actually more of a re-union…a re-joining of two who were long ago separated…
for, in the beginning, there was a union… but with man having chosen to defy the Creator…
the union was torn asunder.

Yet as St Catherine of Siena reminds us, God longs to be reunited…He longs for the two to
be fused back together…

However, for the fusion to hold, there can be nothing which exists in between…
there must be nothing.

Not the thinnest, smallest, tiniest or slightest separation…
not any passion, nor desire, nor want…nothing that we think we simply must have
can exist because if it does, we remain separate and not one.

And so as we read below an excerpt from the Catholic Catechism…
whether we be Catholic or not, we read that it is by Christ’s passion…
his sacrifice, his willingness to offer himself in place of our own damned fate
that we are able to be reunited.
He has fused himself to us as we are re-united in “his redemptive Passion.”
As He joins the Father, we in turn re-join the Father…

“Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.
He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands, mud and washing.
The sick try to touch him, ‘for power came forth from him and healed them all’.
And so in the sacraments Christ continues to ‘touch’ us in order to heal us.
Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick,
but he makes their miseries his own:
‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases’.
But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover.
On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and
took away the ‘sin of the world’, of which illness is only a consequence.
By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering:
it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.”

Excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Chruch, pp.1504-05

berries, cherries and bears, oh my

“Haven’t you ever thought of living
unconsciously like bears, sniffing the earth,
close to pears and the mossy dark,
far from human voices and fire?

Nâzım Hikmet Ran


(a mama bear and her cub perch high in the wild cherry trees / Julie Cook / Cades Cove, TN / 2018)

Some folks would say it’s the sign of an impending cold winter…
What with the numbers of bears we’ve seen in just a two-day span, gorging themselves
on berries and apparently the prolific wild cherries that grow plentiful in the
Smokey Mountains.

Twelve bears and counting.

An amazing feat really given that we’ve been coming to this area on and off now for 35
years and have seen maybe a total of 5 bears over the course of that time—
and those were just at a glance here or there.

Today we ran into 5 more bears with one almost literally running into me.
We were actually walking through a field along the woodline, walking away from one of
the few remaining original cabins in Cades Cove when my husband turned to say something to me
yet he could only muster that single word again, BEAR!!

I turned just in time to see a small black bear right behind me before he kindly bolted
into the woods.

Next, as we were exiting out of the cove we saw a mom and cub perched high in the wild
cherry trees enjoying a late brunch.

Then later in the evening, on one final drive through the cove,
we came upon another young bear eating fast and furiously…


(all bears seen in Cades Cove / Julie Cook / 2018)

Not knowing when I’ll make it back this way, as it’s been about 5 years since our last trip,
I savor these moments.
Breathing in deeply, holding it as long as possible before slowly exhaling.

These snippets, these glimpses of things that are truly greater than our hurly-burly
hectic ant-like lives…
lives spent hurrying here and there as we always seem oh so preoccupied and
tremendously busy…I consider these moments, these gifts of time, one of the
greatest privileges offered.

Being able to see animals in their natural habitat, in a place that is stopped in time,
doing what they do best…simply living and being the wild animals that they are…
is a gift…a gift offered by the Creator to one of the created…

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him
and for him.

Colossians 1:16