you just might get what you want

“The lost enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded
and are therefore self-enslaved.”

C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain


(pretty little dahlia, not mine however—Julie Cook / 2017)

There it is again…
another quote from C.S. Lewis, each from the same book I referenced the other day—
Two random quotes that just so happened my way…???
Each from the same source???!!!…
Coincidence?????
I should think not….

So yes, I’ve ordered the book.

This morning I actually did something I would not have normally done.
I carved out time to sit and listen…
For you see I am a hit the ground running sort of individual—
a morning person who does her best work, thinking, cleaning, sorting, writing…
in the morning….
So for me to stop, sit and listen is a pretty big deal…
this as I often equate my sitting with wasting time…
as in I need to be about the task of doing whatever it is I need to be doing….

40 precious minutes afforded to listening to a sermon that was delivered Sunday at a
church in Scotland.
Now granted I would have much rather been in Scotland at the Church in person,
but an audio link in a blog post was as close as I was going to be getting any time soon.

It was a sermon delivered by Pastor David Robertson,
pastor of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, Scotland
and author of the Wee Flea Blog—a blog I’ve referenced before.

Pastor Robertson delivered a sermon on Romans 1:24-27.
A passage that just so happens to encapsulate Paul’s relaying of God’s thoughts of
human sexuality.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual
impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the
truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather
than the Creator—who is forever praised.
Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.
Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were
inflamed with lust for one another.
Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the
due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:24-27

Now I won’t rehash the sermon as I’ve provided a link if you’d like to either read
Pastor Robertson’s overview or actually listen to his sermon…
What the Bible Really Says About Sex and Sexuality

And it certainly was not my intent today to write a post on human sexuality but rather the
hand of God in our oh so screwed up world.
Of which I will do shortly, sexuality aside.

Yet I was struck by several quotes and remarks made by the good pastor as he actually
delivered this sermon before the world experienced Manchester’s horror.

His delivering of a sermon on such a topic was just happenstance as the passage was
just what came next in the study he had been presenting to his parish.
But it also came on the forefront of an important vote this week by the Church of
Scotland regarding its stance on same sex unions /marriages….
as in it, the Church, wishes to “keep” up with Scottish Law on the issue…
…oh if our Churches didn’t feel such a need….

(http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news_and_events/news/archive/articles/general_assembly_allows_ministers_and_deacons_in_same-sex_marriages)

Yet I think a key statement in all of the sermon was, for me, that
“God is handing us over to what we want and what we have chosen”

Not that He is abandoning us or inflicting upon us but rather He is giving us over, freely,
to what it is we have wanted and chosen….
With that being a life of blatant disregard for His word.
For “we have exchanged God’s word for a lie.”

Yep, a lie.

As in now we’ve turned everything into something other than His word,
as is no longer His word but rather our restructuring, rewriting, redirecting.
Our word in order to make things fit all nice and neat for ourselves.
Fitting the rules for living into what we feel are these changing times…

And Heaven forbid that The Word of God should stand the test of time because obviously
anyone can see that He meant for us to switch things up as we culturally saw fit…
Meaning… as our culture changes and our desires and acceptance all change, then surely
God meant to be fluid…moving with said times.
As surely He would need to modernize that Word of His in order to accommodate our new
acceptances and beliefs in what is now right but once was oh so wrong….
so yeah, we best come up with a new translation, a refutation or a new interpretation to that
tired old Word of His.

Yeah, right…..
as I think we call that progressivism….
and God calls that disobedience….

One thing Pastor Robertson noted was that Jesus did not come to earth in order to confuse us.
He didn’t come to rewrite scripture.. to make it more applicable to the times—
quite the contrary—He came to fulfill the scripture.

So on this little thought, I will leave us today…
Leaving us all to ponder the notion of what it is that we have wanted and
what it is we have chosen…
And just so we can be clear as to what it is we’ve been handed over to…
as somehow I think it just might be related to living a life of being
freely left to our own devices…

But they say,
“It is no use! We will follow our own plans,
and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.”

Jeremiah 18:12

This time of year….

Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.

William Shakespeare

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Scottish saying

Halloween Pumpkins, Witch, Devil, and Black Cat
(vintage halloween card)

What is it about this time of year…
This time of year when we seem to crave the supernatural?
Is it in our nature to lean-in, ever so closely,
to those ancient tales of the “other side”?

Halloween,
what once was an evening relegated to the innocence of the imaginations of children,
has grown to become the second largest commercial “holiday” following Christmas.
No longer is All Hallow’s Eve a single night for young children to don costumes…
all the while as they canvass their neighborhoods, singing trick or treat,
as they amass a small mountain of candy…

Adults have gotten deep into the act.
With Halloween merry making and party going exceeding that of New Years Eve…
For it has now become a month long event….

Yet aside from candy and costumes, which innocently afford one the opportunity to play
dress up as some alter ego,
Halloween has become, more or less, a spiritual excuse.
An open invitation allowing ourselves to taste a bit of a spiritual realm…
But the trouble…
for that is what it becomes, a trouble…
lies in the choice of realms…

Bemused, you may wonder if there is a problem with this yearly interest,
of which borders on obsession,
in this revelry of the realm of the spirits…

And I fear that…yes, perhaps there is.

For you see, we are indeed spiritual beings…
with spirituality being hardwired into our DNA—
And history has proven that it is not necessarily always a need
for a monotheistic God that we seek,
but some sort of spirituality none the less.

Hollywood has long jumped on the bandwagon of our desire to examine spiritual realms,
while at the same time allowing us to exert that odd need to be frightened.
Spook and Horror movies, as well as those tales of witchcraft,
demon possession and specters, have long topped box offices
as we have an almost sick obsession with such.

It is as if cultures worldwide use Halloween as some sort of green light,
a go ahead in affording ourselves permission to dabble in the art of
fortune telling, tarot cards, palm readers, seances, Ouija boards,
paranormal hunting…the supernatural.
All coupled with jaunts to places that are supposedly haunted, creepy and even perhaps dangerous…
and lest we forget the trips to the myriads of haunted / horror houses
which open throughout the month.

Even Disney and Six Flags have each gotten into the act…

So we tell ourselves that that makes it all perfectly safe and harmless.

And yes Halloween, and the thought of spirits,
does indeed course through the blood of humankind….
With those roots traveling far back to Celtic Europe, the ancient Pagan Middle Eastern Kingdoms,
ancient tribes of the Americas, Asia and even Africa—
as every race of people has had that aspect of the supernatural and mystical tied
to their very beginnings.

So maybe we’ve just deem it as all innocent fun as we explore this need of the mystical.

Perhaps we merely convince ourselves that it’s simply wired
deep within the ancient core of our brains…
this odd desire to be scared and frightened…
all the while as we parle into a realm different from our own…

Maybe it’s just something we simply enjoy…

“So what,” we grouse, if it morphs into something else…
something other…
“I’m not scared, I don’t believe in that
hocus locus business…it’s just harmless fun…”

Yet there is just something troubling about it all…
Something actually quite unsettling…
Something actually very dangerous..

For in the naiveté of opening seemingly harmless doors,
we enter into an on-going battle…
an ancient battle for which we are simply not prepared to fight…

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the
spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:12-13

No east nor west

Oh, East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently
at God’s great Judgment Seat;

But there is neither East nor West,
Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
though they come from the ends of the earth!

Rudyard Kipling “The Ballad of East and West

DSC02146
(a tiny skipper and honey bee share the same patch of sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC02147
(a tiny skipper and honey bee share the same patch of sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Having been raised in the Episcopal Church, attending a very large
southern gothic Cathedral, I relished in the rich hymns which would
echo off the seemingly cold limestone walls each Sunday morning.
Resoundingly joyous, as well as seriously solemn, proclamations
of faith carried aloft by both grand organ, choir and congregation would
ring out triumphantly each Sunday all those many years ago—
just as they do to this day.

It’s just that I no longer hear those hymns as I once did as I have long since moved away from my childhood home and church–having long since drifted away from the Episcopal Church.
Yet I know those hymns still ring true as that’s just a part of the strong tie that binds the faithful to the services of the various denominations of the Christian Church, most of which are steeped in rich traditional sacred music—despite the divisions and doctrinal changes, some things such as hymns, stand up to the rigorous test of time.

Every once in a while, for whatever reason, one of those beautiful melodies comes gently gliding back to the forefront of my thoughts and memories.
Oddly such was the case today.
I found myself mindlessly, or so it seemed, humming a vaguely familiar tune when it suddenly dawned on me what it was I was actually humming. . .In Christ there is no east or west, in Him no north or south, but one great fellowship throughout the whole wide earth. . .

A rather apt hymn given the current state of this overtly divided Nation, or rather make that World, of ours. . .

I did a bit of digging regarding the origin of the hymn—was there some sort of lesson God had to offer me as it seemed He graciously brought the tune and memory into focus this oh so average summer day.

The hymn was written in 1908 by William J. Dunkerly, aka John Oxenham, an English businessman turned poet, journalist and author. The poem / hymn was roughly based off of a story written by Rudyard Kipling nine years prior–The Ballad of East and West. A story steeped in the clashes and division of cultures found in Colonial India.

Oxenham’s hymn speaks not to the divisions and clashes of mankind and culture but rather to the unity—the unity of all humankind which can only be found in Jesus Christ.

And that’s the thing. . .there will be no unity of north and south nor east and west nor all that which falls within, not until man (and that word is a collective word which represents all humankind) can put himself (and yes that includes herself) under the authority of Jesus Christ.

Sadly ego, pride and that of personal agendas take precedence in the heart of man, and woman, as mankind decides to be his or her own god. Selfishly putting self, personal agendas and anything else for that matter ahead of a God who asks for a heart of submission–for all He asks is that we follow Him (Matthew 4:19)—yet as human beings stubbornly demonstrate time and time again they prefer to lead rather than follow.

The irony found in this need for submission is that so many folks view it as yielding to a state of being “less than” or of being held a prisoner by a grand puppet master. What they don’t understand is that within that submission, yielding, bending of self comes the gift of freedom and life eternal.
It is not a yielding to the dogmatic power of control exerted by some maniacal psychopath or deranged dictator, but rather to that of a benevolent and loving Creator who longs to gather His children close. Such following leads to the offering of self, not to self, but rather to the betterment of all mankind. . .

However I suppose the majority of this squabbling world of ours just prefers the agenda of self which simply leads to a twain that shall never meet and the inevitable silence of death. . .

In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.

In Him shall true hearts everywhere
Their high communion find;
His service is the golden cord,
Close binding humankind.

Join hands, then, members of the faith,
Whatever your race may be!
Who serves my Father as His child
Is surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
In Him meet North and South;
All Christly souls are one in Him
Throughout the whole wide earth.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28

(and for anyone who is interested in hymns, their origins, their history, their usage. . .there happens to be a fellow blogger, Robert Cottrill, who has a site dedicated to just that very thing–
http://wordwisehymns.com )