to be heartbreakingly humble

Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
but thinking of yourself less.

C.S. Lewis

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(the dried faded viburnum blooms / Julie Cook / 2016)

“Amid the sparkle and the color and music of the day’s celebration
we do well to remember that God’s insertion of himself into human history
was achieved with an almost frightening quietness and humility.
There was no advertisement,
no publicity,
no special privilege;
in fact the entry of God into his own world was almost
heartbreakingly humble”

J. B. Phillips

Recently reading a blog post by a Scottish minister regarding the ever growing saga
in the UK over Brexit…the UK’s vote for departure from the EU and the UK’s
courts latest counter order to halt all proceedings…
as it is a continuing sickening rollercoaster ride of will it or won’t it stay….
I was struck by the deep similarities of all things political and Governmental in the UK
compared with our own fracas over this Election…
The haves and the have nots of power elites who toil to establish their will,
the movers and shakers who forget who they are actually shaking,
the liberal biased media outlets determined to bend the will of the people,
the votes that don’t seem to count unless they favor the favored one, so revote until it’s right…

More often than not, the average citizen,
make that the average Christian citizen,
who is currently feeling lost in this political melee and
who is actually fearful of what the future might hold in either country,
now needs to hold fast to the one true Sovereign who is indeed sovereign over all…
despite what others would wish for us all to believe….

“We don’t trust in politicians or in judges who think they are sovereign.
The real sovereignty is with the only real Sovereign.
When the result of this court case came out I felt a wee bit depressed –
not so much because of it, but rather because I thought – oh no, here we go again.
But I was speaking at Abertay University that night on Daniel 5
The Writing on the Wall and was greatly struck by the phrase
“he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all
kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes” (v.21).
This trust in the sovereignty of God does not mean that we are political pietists
who don’t care about what happens.
It just means that we have such trust in the Sovereign Lord that we
recognize that we don’t rule and neither
does Trump/Clinton/Blair/Farage/Corbyn/May/Sturgeon or any of the elites.
And so we can respect those in authority and those not in authority.
We can have peace, even when we see things that disturb, anger and perplex us.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)
David Robertson
Pastor of St Peters Free Church
Dundee, Scotland

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3

ignorance is bliss…

“Whatever the cost of our liberties, the price is cheap
compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

Walter Cronkite

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(a sandpiper busy looking for breakfast / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

There’s something afoot…
I can feel it…

Something perhaps in the air…

And no,
it’s not a change in season…
It’s not an approaching weather front…

It’s simply more of a feeling…
An odd unsettling feeling…

You know…
it’s like that feeling or sense that animals seem to get just before some
impending natural disaster…such as an earthquake or some other epic trauma.

An out of sorts sort of uncomfortable feeling…

It’s like taking your hand and running it along the grain of a plank of raw wood.
Although the wood is not sanded nor smoothed, along the grain one’s hand
may run the course of the plank without fear of cuts or splinters.
But the minute you decide to run your hand back in the opposite direction,
you are stopped immediately with the bristling of the wood repelling your touch.

That’s how things feel…
as if I’m running my hand against the grain..
there is oddly no smoothness to the flow…
rather a herky jerky uncomfortableness.

Of course you will tell me that life has been doling out its fair share
of uncomfortableness in my little corner of the world…
between dad, changes, legal matters, deaths, moves, discs and nerves…
that’s got to be it… right?

To which I say no to all of that…

I will confess that I’ve stopped watching any national news….
with local news now on a very limited basis…

Sick of it all quite frankly.

Pretty much sick of watching anything about us as a nation these days…
For a weary pall has been cast.

It’s now hard to even watch any sporting events
as they too have taken to marching in the latest political fracas…

We’ve made it hard, you and I and this nation of ours…

Not just because of anthems,
or debates,
or the raging news,
or the media firestorms,
or the never ending three ring circuses,
nor even an impending election…

and I’m thinking that I won’t even bother to vote..
the first time I’ve ever considered such…
but there’s not much point now is there?

But the signs…
they’ve been all about us.
They’ve been there for quite some time…
Yet we’ve refused to pay them any mind.

We’ve all heard and seen the warnings…
but yet we’ve refused to acknowledge any of it…
any of it for what it is…
Because to acknowledge is to admit that we’ve been wrong…
and we don’t like to do that…
we don’t like being wrong.

We are a cake and eat it too type of nation.
Land of opportunity…
because doesn’t opportunity mean having cake and getting to eat it?

We accept every and any sort of choice and lifestyle and decision
because that’s what we’re all about…freedom
for the land of opportunity and freedom means it’s all good because we’re all free…
free to choose and free to decide….

Forget that there are grave responsibilities that come with freedom,
as well as with…
choice,
and opportunity,
and cake,
and even eating…

We’ve even made it pretty darn clear that we don’t like having a God who is just that,
God.
We’ve decided we want our God to be a feel good god…
one who is all accepting, all tolerable and certainly for all choices…
and don’t forget about loving,
because of course he, she or even it must be loving…

Because we’ve decided that that’s what a God should be,
someone who is all about loving and acceptance and only good things…
Because we like good things…always happy, always bliss…

We want nothing to do with the business of
warnings,
harbingers,
rules (aka commandments)
covenants,
death,
dying,
pain,
suffering,
responsibility,
obedience…

So yes…
I keep sensing something unsettling,
something uncomfortable,
maybe even something foreboding…

“Ignore it” you say …
because remember,
ignorance is indeed bliss…
and we all want bliss….

When the Lord God decides to do something,
he will first tell his servants, the prophets.
When a lion roars, people are frightened.
When the Lord God speaks, a prophet must prophesy.

Go to the high towers in Ashdod and in Egypt and announce this message from the Lord:
“Come together on the mountains of Samaria.
See the great confusion there because the people don’t know how to live right.
See how cruel they are to others. They take things from people to hide
in their high towers.
Their treasuries are filled with the things they have taken in war.”

So the Lord God says, “An enemy will surround your land.
They will break down your strong walls and take the things
you have hidden in your high towers.”

The Lord says,
“A lion might attack a lamb,
and a shepherd might try to save the lamb.
But the shepherd will save
only a part of that lamb.
He might pull two legs
or a part of an ear from the lion’s mouth.
In the same way, most of the people of Israel will not be saved.
Those who live in Samaria will save only a corner from a bed,
or a piece of cloth from a couch.”

This is what the Lord God All-Powerful says:
“Warn the family of Jacob about these things.
Israel sinned, and I will punish them for their sins.
And when I do, I will also destroy the altars at Bethel.
The horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground.
I will destroy the winter house with the summer house.
The houses of ivory will be destroyed.
Many houses will be destroyed.”
This is what the Lord said.

Amos 3: 7-15

the hows and the whys…

Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding,
disbelief or ignorance.

W. Clement Stone

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(wildflower / Julie Cook / 2016)

Look at this amazing tiny wildflower…
it grows wild along the edge of the woods.

Looking at it closely, it really is amazing isn’t it?

The coloring…
those tiny magenta like spots demurely dotting a milky center…
along with those soft yellow streaks…
offered by what seems to be the errant brush stroke of an artist’s paint.

Those fine tiny little fuzzy hairs,
surrounding each gentle and tender petal…
ready and waiting to tickle the foot of any visiting bee….

Absolutely amazing…

Such attention to detail…

A microcosm of beauty that sits for no one in particular,
randomly along the edge of the woods….
Except say for the birds, the deer, the coyotes, the armadillos…
and chances are, it is only the bees that pay it any heed…

A delightful detail to be marveled over.
A sheer tiny portent of beauty….
offered freely to any passerby to gleefully behold…

Yet I do not see such a tiny marvel as mere happenstance.
I do not find it to be some random mix of atoms that swirled together
over the eons, then popped out as this flower…

I do not look upon anything on this earth as mere happenstance…
the oceans and all that they harbor and hold…
the sky with it’s endless cosmic delights…
the earth be it verdant growth or sandy dunes…
Nothing has happened without the knowledge of the Creator…

But…
there are many who would beg to differ.
There are those who will cry foul over such thoughts…
Those who will fight ardently, tooth and nail, to wipe away any such notion…
because for them, that’s all that such is…
mere notions of the uneducated, the simple, the naive and the misinformed…

So when I hear all of this up and arms wailing and gnashing of teeth over all
of this impending election mess of ours….
as in an exclamation point and question mark screaming after the statement…

THE CHOICE IS JUST THESE TWO CANDIDATES?????!!!!!!!

As in…
That’s it??????
That’s all we’ve got??

The anguished lamenting that is currently taking place over the fact that
out of the hundreds of millions of legal Americans,
not counting our illegal population,
we are left wondering how it came down…
to these particular two????!!!!

Down to a woman who has quite the checkered past…
Do you remember White Water???

A woman who was in charge of the this nation’s top security yet continues
to claim “no recollection” as to how that e-mail businesses got so messed up…
A woman who’s job it was to defend and protect our National security interests
around this globe yet chose to willfully ignore the continued pleas for help
by a United States ambassador…

A woman who now has blood on her hands…

Never mind she is married to the man who helped to usher in this ‘no holds bar’
lack of decorum, dare we say morality, in our press…
let alone in our highest ranking office in this nation…
as we disgustingly recall that infamous little red dress…

And there was that famous presidential address to the Nation…
you remember the one…the one in which that famously ridiculous lie was uttered
to both you and I…
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”
Only to come to find out that, well whoops, he did…

And then there’s the other of the two…
the fellow with the equally checkered past…
Lest we remember each and every wife, gaffe, boast, profane and vile remark…
A man who has made millions by always putting himself and his interests first…
Remember “it’s not personal, it’s just business”
cold, callous and calculating…

A man who has treated his fellow man and woman as less than and as mere objects…
A man who’s line, “you’re fired” has became a common household phrase…
as he can cut ties faster than we can bat any eye….

So yes, it is sadly, oddly, bizarrely down to these two,
out of all of the millions who could have been…
we’re stuck with these two….

So I’m of the thought that this is what happens when the Divine is removed from life.
When the Miraculous is coldly cast aside…
When He who is Greater than is cheaply rendered less than by the mere created?
When the Word of God is rewritten, ignored and replaced…
When we have decided that we are more important than everything and anyone else…
and that we obviously don’t need nor want God in our lives….

So should we really wonder how or why we’ve gotten into this mess…?

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” …
Hebrews10:26-31

the diversion of a feeding frenzy

“If our condition were truly happy,
we would not seek diversion from it in order to make ourselves happy”

Blaise Pascal

“The news media is in a feeding frenzy”
George Bush

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(the butterfly bushes are rife with those feeding / Julie Cook / 2016)

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Ok, so you thought you were going to see some images of ravenous sharks, wildly thrashing about,
tearing apart some poor fish…

Sorry, it’s not shark week.

However…
rest assured…
A feeding frenzy is indeed under way…
With both you and me front and center on the main menu.

For it is now open season on the average citizen.

We are currently under assault, you and me, by all the news media outlets, as well as all things political.
I hate to say it, but the season is open and in full swing until November.
And unfortunately it looks as if it won’t truly be over until most likely sometime after the
first of the new year…or so.
And depending on the results, it may never be over…

The thing is….
we are all currently dealing with our individual lives….

We don’t have time to spare for things other than our manic lives….
It is simply to the everyday nitty gritty of living that has us consummed.
Time is not ours to give away to those who are now chomping at the bit for pieces of it.

For me…it’s dad who has developed a gravely concerning malady…
that is proving troublesome to pinpoint, let alone resolve…
as a few grim scenarios are waiting in the wings.

I’m driving back and forth to this doctor and that, to this test and that, all the while reassuring Dad that he is a okay…despite the alarming physical symptoms.

Do I have the time or energy to be bothered every time I just want some quiet down time…???
Flipping on the telly, seeking some mindless light diversion, yearning for a little football,
yet instead I am met by the likes of every TV personality and new anchor bashing Trump, touting Hillary, telling me only one kind of life matters, yada yada yada…????!!!!

Do I want to see ad after ad about why I should vote this way or that—???
Ads both dark and ominous of what will happen if I vote this way or that????
Do I want to see ads filled with a whole lot of malarky and bull crap????
All the while finding myself sadly yearning for the days of those cheeky little toilet paper ads…

And it seems that I am not the only one needing a diversion from the feeding frenzy of this season.

The odd phenomena of the Pokemon craze has become a global obsession.
Even as poor dad frets and waits to see the latest doctor in a string of doctors,
look what my son spies sitting by his grandfather…sigh…

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And whereas I am actually gravely concerned over this current trend and need
by this ailing world of ours…
This ravenous desire of seeking such an obsessive diversion…
Wondering why we don’t or can’t actually see what our true need actually is…
What it is that we yearn for…
What it is that we ache for…

That being satiated by the balm of the Resurrected Christ…

Yet reluctantly I can understand the need of escape from all this misery,
mayhem and feeding frenzy that is currently besieging us…

For it is in this desperation that the masses now seek the diversion of a virtual game…
sigh….

So…
With that being said…
and that being that,
it’s time to put down the remote,
close the laptop,
turn off the freaking phone…
and head outside for a real life diversion…

One that is actually Heaven sent….

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Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Psalm 119:23-24

fruits and umbrage

“Whenever anyone has offended me,
I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.”

René Descartes

The Bible, that powerful book, has many effects:
it comforts, counsels, instructs, and brings us into the presence of God.
But trying to erase offense as one of its functions is a fundamentally misguided task.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

The first and most essential means of making peace with those who offend and
persecute us is to pray for them,
according to the commandment of Christ.

–Saint Leo of Optina

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(my first fig from my small tree / Julie Cook / 2016)

We are known by our fruits, just as we may know others by theirs…

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Matthew 7:16-20

Meaning…
It is to the goodness and the positive…those good deeds, exploits and actions we do for
which we will be remembered and recognized…

And yet sadly on the opposite side of all of this, many of us are actually recognized by the bad fruits and the negative things that we do.

As we are more likely to remember one bad offense while forgetting the 99 good—

All of which is human nature I suppose…

And as I have stood watching all of this election business of ours..
the good, the bad and the very ugly…
Just as I have watched this racial unrest or ours,
This polarization of ours,
This ever deepening and widening chasm of ours…
splitting this Nation of ours in half…
All with both amusement and alarm,
sorrow and bewilderment,
disdain and even wonder…
I am left to ponder as to the fruits that we are to recognize in our fellow man / woman
That of which we shall see and be drawn to and remember….

I’ve never seen anything like all of this growing spectacle of ours.
This debacle of democracy.
It’s grown into something so laughable and so ridiculous,
that I want to stop everything and just ask one simple question…
can we simply start all over??

As we are about to have to decide between the two people who are currently
seeking the highest office in our Nation…

One has proven herself to be a liar who…
has spent a lifetime covering up so very much…
conveniently forgotting so much…
all the while…
living with spilt blood on her hands…

The other one lacks tact, decorum, civility and often decency of thought and word…
all the while forgetting to shut his mouth lest he shoves both feet in for a snack.

And yet I am being chided into voting for the woman of this pair for the mere reason that I too am a woman…

As when Madeleine Albright so ridiculously and even threateningly stated that “there is a special place in hell for women who will not for vote for a woman…”
It was shades of Dante’s Inferno…
however her motives were not nearly as pure or just as our dear Dante…

Is that not just another way of saying vote white because you’re white,
vote male because you’re male,
vote black because you’re black,
vote latino because you’re latino….

As ludicrous as that all is–that is exactly how many out there are coaching fellow
voters to in turn vote….

And yes, I have taken grave umbrage with such…

Why?

Because I am a woman and I can vote…
that is in itself the very reason why I can vote for someone other than a woman…

And at this rate, Charlie Brown is looking pretty darn good….

We’ve definitely got a mess on our hands and there is, I’m fairly certain,
neither divide nor doubt about that from either party or side.

So here’s the thing…
We can either honor God and His covenant to us, His children.
We can either honor the Nation of Israel, the land of God’s chosen inheritance
We can either turn back around from our wicked, yes wicked, ways…

or…

We can continue down our path of destruction…

So what are we to do?
Who are we to vote for….????

We pray……..

The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me;
his word is on my tongue.
The God of Israel has spoken;
the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.
“For does not my house stand so with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.
For will he not cause to prosper
all my help and my desire?

2 Samuel 23: 1-5

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