The world says that we are either bad or mad…perhaps we are both

“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


(a gardenia after the rain / Julie Cook / 2018)

A Reading from the 2nd Sunday following The Trinity
Mark 3:20-35
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered,
so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.
When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him,
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul!
By the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.”

So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables:
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.
In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up.
Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.
Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter,
but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven;
they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived.
Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him,
“Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers!
Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

When I’m away, playing grandmother my time is, well, not my time…
and that is as so it should be…time, not, mine.

So returning home today, after being gone to and fro for the better part of the
last two weeks…
I played a bit of catch up with my favorite across the pond rouge Anglican Bishop…
The Rt Rev Gavin Ashenden.

I caught both an edition of Anglican Unscripted as well as the latest clip from a
homily offered for the 2nd Sunday after the Trinity…
a homily in which we hear of both the opposition of those who knew Jesus…those
who turned on him…as well as the message of casting out demons and an unpardonable sin.

First, we hear of how those who had known Jesus had accused him of being pretty much
out of his mind, having totally lost his senses…
meaning he must simply be either crazy or demonic, or both.
A bad or mad sort of scenario.

And do we not hear today that same echoed sentiment being hurled against the
Orthodox Christian?
“Those Christians are bad, mad and certainly evil in their thinking…”

Next, we hear Jesus explain that Satan cannot cast out himself…
So, therefore, how could Jesus, who is casting out demons, not be demonic himself?
Answer—
He can’t.

He explains to the crowd that man is being held captive by a heavy-handed strongman,
a strongman who is of the world.
A strongman who, when all the confusion and bluster of this world is swept aside,
is exposed for who he is—Satan.

And thankfully for us, it is Jesus, who has come to cast out Satan.
To set us free, renew us and to ultimately heal us.

In both the homily, as well as the interview on Anglican Unscripted, the good bishop
touches on a single thought…
“There are two great enemies of Christianity…those being both Homosexuality and Islam”

In his interview on Anglican Unscripted, Bishop Ashenden shares the thought that we are
currently witnessing the Chruch being lost…
she has lost her way of knowing who is a friend or who is a foe.
This 21st century Christian Chruch has opted to embrace both of her enemies
while turning a blind eye to the illness these enemies possess.

Rather than sharing the importance of Jesus’ teaching about man and sin…
that being of the good news of forgiveness, hope, healing, and renewal…
the Chruch is now teaching her own ideas.

She is totally disregarding the critical ailment besieging man…the ailment of man’s
choosing to stand in direct opposition to God’s teaching and Word…
particularly with regard to the teaching of human sexual relationships.
And in turn, she, the Chruch now stands in opposition.

The Chruch of the 21st century is instead hoping to simply embrace both her enemies…
Opening her arms to embrace a religion that is also a political ideology of violence
and oppression..an ideology in direct opposition to Christianity–
while She, the Chruch, continues to totally ignore the fallen sinful nature of man
as she daringly decides to override God’s very own directive.

Some would loudly question why embracing the enemy would be wrong or a bad thing.
Are we not told to love those who hate us?
Why shouldn’t the Chruch, the embodiment of love and healing, not want to embrace?
Offering the demonstrative of her words?

But the problem in that thinking is that the Chruch has begun to lead and teach by her
own thoughts and actions over those of the spoken Word of God’s directive to man.
We should love yes, but we should not alter, change or rewrite His commands.

This is a precarious situation in that it is both dangerous and undermining as it’s base
is rooted in the ignorance of the embracing enemies..an action that
The Chruch obviously and so naively hopes will aid in simply making these enemies go away…
all after a good hug.

The Bishop notes that as far as Islam is concerned, contrary to what many Christians want to
believe, Islam is not the “symmetrical opposite of our Judaeo/ Chrisitan heritage
and belief system.”

With Isalm we know that it is either all or nothing, there is no picking or choosing.
The Quran is very specific…those who oppose the teachings of Islam are in turn the enemy
of Islam and all enemies, in turn, must be killed.
End of sentence.

There is no forgiveness nor is there any offer of hope of redemption and salvation as is
taught in Christianity, but rather those in opposition must die.
Plain and simple.

Bishop Ashenden keenly notes that whereas “a Chrisitan will die for his faith,
a Muslim, who abides by Sharia Law, will kill for his.”

So it is pure folly that recently a Cathedral,
a place that is the outward symbol of Apostolic teaching, in England opened it’s door to offer the
neighboring Muslims a meal following the fast of Ramadan.
(link to story provided below)

Harmless hospitality most folks responded but the Bishop asks,
how many Mosques opened their doors following
Lent and Easter, offering the Christians a meal of celebration?

Absolutely none…because to do so would have been to blaspheme Mohammad.
And no Muslim is to ever blaspheme Mohammad.
Because to blaspheme Mohammad is to be killed.
The Quran is that specific.

Never mind that the Chruch blasphemes the Word of God by embracing and teaching
that homosexuality is suddenly now sanctioned and even embraced by God.
Never mind that the Chruch capitulates and waffles with her appeasement of an ideology
that states its sole goal and focus is the total eradication of Christians and Jews…
as all must convert to the faith of Islam or die.
Plain and simple.

So now is the Church not therfore engaged in a dangerous dance?

In her keen desire to play culturally nice, appearing to be the place
of total acceptance and of all things feel good, she is actually turning
on herself while turning from the word of God.

For in her mad rush to embrace, accept and tolerate, the Chruch,
this bride of Christ, has forgotten that she places the one thing that she has been
entrusted with to always defend and uphold…that being the sole word of Jesus Christ.

“Celebrating Ramadan in Southwark Cathedral; mission, meals and infidelity”.

fallen world

“If I looked into a mirror, and did not see my face,
I should have the sort of feeling which actually comes upon me,
when I look into this living busy world,
and see no reflexion of its Creator.”

John Henry Newman


(a ragged and worn Spicebush swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2017)

“The primary effects of original sin,
which are the deprivation of grace and the loss of eternal life,
are taken away by baptism or baptism of desire, but the other effects
are not.
These are the darkening of the intelligence,
the weakening of the will,
the casting of the emotions, into chaos,
and the corruption of human relationships”

Fr Benedict from the 2004 interview with John Bishop

In August, the waning days of summer are relentlessly hot and equally humid.
Here in the deep south there is no glimpse of that hopefulness known as Fall,
a change of season that just so happens to be on the very next page of
the calendar.

The butterflies, who may or may not be aware that changes are in store,
are at a near fevered pitch as they make their precarious mad dash
all around the yard in search of the those few brave flowers which
are still blooming despite most others having long dried and withered away.

The butterflies go about their task of nectar drinking right up to the moment
they simply fall to the ground and perish.
Their wings are now terribly frayed as the delicate colored powder
has all but worn away leaving their wings almost transparent…
yet the quest remains relentless.
They are driven by an innate need.

They are haggard and ragged and many are actually quite near death,
yet they continue on…
Much like the global Christian family during these waning days of
earth’s final glory.

Bruised and battered the ardent followers of Christ Jesus continue on,
ever forward, towards a final day…
sharing, preaching, seeking, offering…embracing the last word of Hope….

The times grow ever increasingly difficult to live and function in a fallen world
as the Faithful find themselves under constant attack.

Is it coincidental that in these dark days there should be a rise in the
attacks against professing Christians?

In the US the attacks are not the physical attacks seen taking place
elsewhere in the world, rather they are more legalistic and intellectual with a
heavy dose of shaming, smearing and shunning.

Yet oddly this global family, who profess to be Believers,
remains eerily silent.
Reminiscent of a day when those who shouted…
“you are one of them, you were with Him…”
With the panicked response being…
“you’re wrong, I don’t know what you’re talking
about, I don’t know them or Him…”

“Could you not remain, not stay awake, not even this one time when
I asked you, when I needed you…?”

The world is careening out of control…
While this season of change continues to descend.

A once great nation now loses her mind over a nearly once forgotten past,
refusing to turn around to recognize what the precarious future might be,
rather preferring to languish in what was.
As the world sits silently confused…waiting and watching…

Does the enemy care that a people now argue over changing the names of streets
while destroying the remnants of their their past?
No.
The enemy is glad and relishes in the stupid distractions.

Tearing one another apart, hating one another, cursing and defiling one’s
fellow man…
all the while the Enemy is cheering it on.

For our’s is a fallen world, now spinning wildly out of control.
Her leaders and politicians vainly try to bring order to the chaos.
Her people race to undo their years of forward motion…
While no one seems to comprehend that there is but only One who
can and who will bring an end to the madness— as He is the only one who
can usher in the much needed order…

Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen,
the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly.
A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress,
A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,

Zephaniah 1:14-15

love itself….

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places;
but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief,
it grows perhaps the greater.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

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(Bonaventure Cemetery / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2016)

“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me,
I saw the sin of them.
Jesus Christ had died for this man;
was I going to ask for more?
Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….
Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than
on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges,
but on His.
When He tells us to love our enemies,
He gives along with the command,
the love itself.”

― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

Paying attention

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”
James Cook, British Explorer

Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes.
Antisthenes

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(preening gulls / Henderson State Park / Julie Cook /2015 )

Attention verses inattention verses distraction verses indifference verses cynicism verses . . .

Living in a world full of gadgets and gizmos, internet and facebook, cell phones and ear phones,
Each vying for your time, your focus, your attention. . .are you missing the bigger picture?

Flags flap, genders clash, rights obscure, as the baby is thrown out, over and over, with the bathwater. . .are you missing the point?

Masses riot, burning and looting, while everyone’s shooting as tolerance and anger dance a dangerous waltz. . .are you missing the fire for the smoke?

Minorities rule as majorities fool with everyone more confused than before. . .are you missing the boat?

Marriages verses rights as bakeries fight refusing to make the cake. . .are you sitting on the fence

The world is changing as the enemies converge but everyone’s too busy to notice. . .

Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.

Psalm 128:23

Should anyone be concerned?

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“. . . meekness,love, purity, these are the things that should magnify us.”
― Joseph Smith Jr.

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DSC01061
(the mysterious silent beauty of orchids / Julie Cook / 2015)

Should I be concerned that ISIS executed another group of Ethiopian Christians over the weekend?
How many executions does this make? I think I’m losing count. . .

Yet sadly the only thing I’m hearing about such is. . . mostly silence.

Should I be concerned that Boko Haram, the violent Islamic group out of Nigeria, has vowed to follow suit, joining ISIS, creating a deadly alliance, and declaring total eradication of all Christians?
70 million Nigerian Christians most likely are not sleeping well tonight. . .
Oh, and by the way, they still have all “The Missing Girls”. . .

Again, sadly the only thing I’m hearing about such is predominately silence

Should I be concerned that last week, on one of those boats bringing “migrants” from the coast of Nigeria to southern Italy—illegally mind you, that 12 Christian migrants were thrown overboard by several Muslim migrants, all drowning in the choppy seas. . .simply for praying.
Yet with many of the migrant ships sinking on what seems to be a weekly basis, killing hundreds as it is. . .12 Christians is but a drop in the bucket. . .and anyway, this issue has all sorts of concern written all over it does it not. . .yet what does the UN, the EU, the US, Russia, China, or anyone else for that matter who matters, have to say. . .

Again, sadly, silence

Should I be concerned that I don’t hear much in the way of global outrage or concern for the worldwide Christian communities that seem to be living in harms way?
Oh wait, I think the Pope said something. . .
“complicit silence” I believe were his words. . .as in why are the leaders of the world remaining, or better yet, choosing to remain silent?

The Pope gets it.

Why are the global Christian communities, which are not in harms way, remaining silent?
Why aren’t we all standing on the roof tops saying that all of this must stop?

Did you catch 60 Minutes Sunday night?
What of the children being gassed in Syria??
Seeing those horrific images should be enough for any breathing human to utter. .
no more. . .
Are we not yet outraged enough to say a collective NO MORE??

I did, however, recently read somewhere that there is a push for some sort of solidarity in some Christian congregations throughout the US for parishioners to wear orange–a color symbolic of the infamous jumpsuits worn by the executed ISIS captives.

Yet I’ve not seen any news about such, nothing locally or nationally. I’ve heard of no ground swell over such. . .seen no orange out and about. . .

Why are we all so silent?

Why is the Jewish nation, silent?

Why are the atheists silent?

Why are the Buddhists silent?

Why are the Islamic faithful, who are not supporters of jihad and barbarism, remaining silent?

Should I be concerned?

Should any of us be concerned?