ora pro nobis—pray for us

So the religious soul finds in the heart of Jesus a secure refuge against
the wiles and attacks of Satan, and a delightful retreat.
But we must not rest merely at the entrance to the hole in the rock,
we must penetrate its depths. At the mouth of the deep hollow, at the mouth
of the wound in his side we shall, indeed, find the precious blood which
has redeemed us.
This blood pleads for us and demands mercy for us.
But the religious soul must not stay at the entrance.
When she has heard, and understood, the voice of the divine blood,
she must hasten to the very source from which it springs,
into the very innermost sanctuary of the heart of Jesus.
There she will find light, peace, and ineffable consolations.

St. Anthony of Padua


(a mysterious painting of St. Anthony and the Christ child)

The saints pick us, we don’t pick them…
Or so that’s what they say.

But firstly, let’s remember, this is going to be a story about a painting…
nothing more, nothing less…

For starters, I’ve stated this before…I am not a Catholic—rather I was raised in the
fold of the Episcopal Chruch…that of the Anglican Communion.

I am however familiar with the family of Saints.
A seemingly Catholic notion.
Yet also very Anglican…

Also, I love my traditional Anglican hymns…
One little hymn, in particular, I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
I loved singing that hymn when I was a little girl attending children’s chapel.

Saints, in my youthful mind, were individuals who loomed large in our Christian Faith.
Brave, and even stoically defiant, in the face of persecution.
Some had been ardent unbelievers or dastardly sinners who had, for whatever reason,
come face to face with the God of all Creation and in turn, fell into His redeeming arms,
never looking back but rather becoming ardent defenders of the faith.

It was always the 3rd stanza of the hymn that offered me a sense of hopefulness that I too
could one day be counted among that same fold of brave Christian individuals.

they lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.

I also know that when one is confirmed within the Catholic Chruch,
they are encouraged to choose a patron saint.
A heavenly individual who will walk alongside them as they navigate the world…
all the while the saint helps to provide inspiration along with a more spiritual focus.

The old saying goes, ‘you don’t pick the saint, the saint picks you.’

And I must admit, I actually agree.

We Protestants haven’t always quite understood the relationship our Catholic kin
have had with the Saints, but I’m one who has always appreciated that little relationship.
And that’s in part due to my Anglican upbringing.
As well as spending years in college studying religious Renaissance Art.

So no, it’s not an attempt at replacing Jesus as the focus of our prayers, praise,
and adoration but rather it’s more like having a few more folks in one’s corner
it’s just that those folks are a bit more heavenly than earthly.

Think of it like having a close friend who joins you in prayer and
who walks along by your side…it’s just that they’re there in spirit rather than
in the flesh.

But this isn’t a post about the virtues or vices of Saints in our lives…
rather this is a post about a painting…a painting of a saint…

Well, sort of…

The saint in question is Saint Anthony of Padua, otherwise known as
Santo Antonio di Padova.

Anthony was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195.
Eventually, he became a Franciscan Friar, making Padua (Padova), Itlay home.

He is known as the patron saint of lost things.

But again, this is not necessarily to be a biographical post, just a post
about a painting…

I have had a long connection with St Anthony—one I’ve written about before.
But this particular tale is unlike our other run-ins and lingering relationship.

So just know, Santo Antonio and I have a history.
But this story isn’t about that story, but rather about a painting.

Several months ago, I took a couple of my grandmother’s old lamps over to Atlanta
in order to have then rewired.

They are lovely antique lamps that have just sat, never being used due to ancient
and most dangerous wiring.
My grandfather, who was an electrical engineer would, as a hobby, often turn the
antiques figurines or urns that my grandmother would bring home into lamps…
and so some of these lamps haven’t been updated in decades.
So I figured it was high time I got them up to speed so I could actually use them.

A friend of mine recommended a nice little lamp shop located over in Midtown…
and it just so happened that the shop also had a hodgepodge smattering of antiques.

I made several trips back and forth as I also decided that I needed to update a few lampshades.
Over the course of my visits, the owners and I struck up a nice little friendship.

We knew mutual old Atlanta stories and they knew some customers from Carrollton who
I knew.
Life can be delightfully small like that.

During one of my many trips over, one day my eye suddenly gravitated to an old beat-up
unframed oil painting perched all alone over in a forgotten corner.

The painting was ripped, chipped and cracking as the canvas was coming
untacked from the wooden base frame.
It was old, it was sad and it was unloved…
and it oddly drew me in.

Or rather it was the subject matter which immediately drew me in.

I asked the owners if they would consider selling the picture.

They said yes and it was actually a very affordable penance of a price for such an old painting.

Next they proceeded to tell me the story of how they came about the painting.

It seems that back in the early 1920s, The Vatican reached out to an Abbey in Michigan
about sending them approximately 50 paintings.
Why I’m not certain, but I do know that it was not uncommon for the Vatican to
‘lighten the load’ so the speak by gifting various abbeys, monasteries and churches
with some of their burgeoning collection of artwork.

The abbey kept the paintings until recently.

A nun from the abbey, out of the blue, reached out to these owners…
as it seems that one of the owners has a proclivity for antique
paintings and is known for such.

The nun explained how the abbey had gotten the paintings
but for a reason I never caught in this convoluted tale, asked if they’d be interested in
buying any of the paintings.

When they hung up the phone with the nun, they immediately rented a U-haul and drove
all night to Michigan.

They bought all 50 paintings and brought them back to Atlanta.

Many of the paintings have in turn been sold or were simply kept.

All but the one painting that had caught my eye—sadly because it
was most likely the one in the worst shape.

But that didn’t matter to me.
The painting called out to me and I couldn’t resist.

What I was planning on doing with a dilapidated,
torn old painting was beyond my husband’s soul…
but it mattered not, the painting had called to me.

A few weeks after bringing home my new old broken treasure,
my husband and I ventured down to a small town outside of
Callaway Gardens to spend an afternoon roaming around and having lunch.

I wandered into an antique shop and started looking at a couple of old frames that were for sale.
The owner asked what I had in mind for the frame.
That was when I began to share my tale about my painting and how I was looking for a frame.

She asked if I would consider bringing her the painting as she had a friend who actually
did restoration work on old paintings.

I agreed.
I was curious as to its background and there was just something about the painting
that seemed to plead with me to please bring it back to life.

I think that comes from spending a lifetime as an Art teacher

The short of this long story…we finally picked up the painting today…
It is estimated to be almost 200 years old.
It has been lovingly repaired, cleaned, re-stretched
and now rests in a pretty new frame…nearly 3 months after
I first saw it sitting alone in a corner.

So tomorrow, the painting of Santo Antonio will finally be hung up, surrounded by things
received and gathered during a lifetime of running into St Anthony.

I don’t know its origin.
I don’t know its artist.
I don’t know if the Vatican ever really once owned it or not.
And I don’t know the abbey that held on to it all these years.
I really don’t know anything about it…only but one thing…
it seems that saints find us, we don’t find them…

“I have learned on this journey that we can’t only study the saints who have personalities
or interests exactly like our own.
Our friends, including our Heavenly ones, should challenge us and help us to grow.
In seeing what we lack in our own lives, we are able to forge ahead and grow.
If we never seek out our defects or weaknesses, then we can never begin to overcome them.
So be open to saints who choose you and want to befriend you.
It is God moving in your life through His saints.
There is something you need to learn or I need to learn.
Let us be thankful for the saints who choose us through no merit of our own.
All you holy men and women, ora pro nobis.”

Constance T.Hull
Catholic Exchange

Either / Or..it’s mere Christianity

“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money,
poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires,
slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God
which will make him happy.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.
But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?
A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.
What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

According to our friends at Wikipedia,
Mere Christianity is a theological book by
C. S. Lewis, adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1941 and 1944,
while Lewis was at Oxford during the Second World War.
Considered a classic of Christian apologetics, the transcripts of the broadcasts
originally appeared in print as three separate pamphlets:
The Case for Christianity (Broadcast Talks in the UK) (1942),
Christian Behaviour (1943), and Beyond Personality (1944).
Lewis was invited to give the talks by the Reverend James Welch, the BBC Director of Religious Broadcasting, who had read his 1940 book, The Problem of Pain.

Growing up as an Episcopalian, under the umbrella of the Anglican Church, I was first
introduced to C.S.Lewis when I was in about the 8th or 9th grade or so…
Our Sunday School class was assigned a book to read as part
of our Sunday School “curriculum.”

The book was The Screwtape Letters.

A book first published in 1942.
A time when Great Britain was in the throes of some of her darkest days…the midst of WWII.

This was a paperback book we were given and the cover actually scared me.
I made a point of always putting the book facedown when reading it.
I was not a huge fan of devils nor Satan for that matter…no fan of demonic images…
and with The Exorcist movie making its debut just about the same time,
I wasn’t having anything affiliated with Satan too close for my sense of comfort.

For you see, even early on in my life I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that we were
living in a fallen world.
And in that fallen world we were (are) actually living in the middle of a massive
spiritual war…a war that was, and is, raging all around us.

Satan is very much real and will very much do what he can to thwart his mortal Enemy
who just so happens to be the Creator of both dark and light and of life and even of death…
And yet death with this Creator of ours is not a permanent predicament—

So in all of this, that being Spiritual war, there will naturally be casualties.
Casualties of a fallenness, a brokenness, a darkness and a sinfulness…in turn marking those
casualties prisoners of war.

The problem in all of this is that once captured and the battle finally ends with the Victor
coming again in triumph…the prisoners who fall to the whims of the dark enemy are then at the
point of being forever lost.

There is a narrow window in which one can choose which side of the battle one wants to be…
and sadly many have, as well as continue, to choose the wrong side.

If you scoff at such a notion…that’s fine.
But don’t ever say you weren’t informed.

And no that’s not Christianity being all about the big, the bad and the scary with a skewed
psychological tactic of punishment as its basis…it’s actually a matter of that being
exactly what it is—-that being the facts behind the story.

And so our Wikipedia friends once again explain that…
“The Screwtape Letters is a Christian apologetic novel by C. S. Lewis and dedicated to
J. R. R. Tolkien.
It is written in a satirical, epistolary style and while it is fictional in format,
the plot and characters are used to address Christian theological issues,
primarily those to do with temptation and resistance to it.”

First published in February 1942,
the story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior Demon Screwtape to his
nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter.
The uncle’s mentorship pertains to the nephew’s responsibility in securing the damnation of a
British man known only as “the Patient”.

Funny that most young folks learn of Lewis from his Chronicles of Narnia and with me,
I actually learn of him from the writings of devils.

There’s something to be said for that…and I think its because God always knew that I would
need to pass the allegorical early on, cutting straight to the chase.

Life has been that way for me.

However is wasn’t until when I was an adult that Lewis really came alive for me.
It was when I watched the 1993 movie Shadowlands…
a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.
I’ve written about the movie before and if you’ve never seen it…
it is worth tracking down.

The movie is based on true events in Lewis’ life…such that I came away knowing that he totally
“got” this thing we call life.

Life with all of its curve balls…Curveballs that it loves to throw at those who call
themselves Christians as well as to the nonbelievers…it’s just that most folks scrutinize the
Christians when the bad things come—gauging their responses and reactions…
Nonbelievers like to mock and scoff Christians who suffer and hurt…sneering “where is your
God now?!”

But Life does not discriminate.
Life is hard.
It is not fair.
It often hurts and it can tempt us until we actually go practically mad.

And note that I say Life….not God, not Jesus…but rather simply Life…

For God nor Jesus torment.
Nor do they tempt or threaten or wreak havoc in our worlds…
That is merely the role Life plays in our lives.
Think back to what I said about living in a fallen world…

So when I read this latest quote by Lewis…I thought here is a man who despite speaking to us
from the depths of days long past…a man who spoke during a raging world war…
his observations are still very much current.

As this quote is particularly timely for our oh so modern 21st century smug
attitudes towards a no hold bar approach to sexuality.

“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues.

There is no getting away from it;
the Christian rule is,
‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner,
or else total abstinence.’

Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts,
that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong.
One or the other.
Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong …
God knows our situation;
He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome.
What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.
Before we can be cured we must want to be cured.
Those who really wish for help will get it;
but for many modern people, even the wish is difficult…
We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained
by any merely human efforts.
You must ask for God’s help.
Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help,
or less help than you need, is being given.
Never mind.
After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up and try again.
Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this
power of always trying again.
For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be,
this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still.
It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.
We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments,
and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.
The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.”

— C. S. Lewis, p. 95
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

dizziness, spectacles and extravaganzas

“This is quite a fight.
Orthodox Christians believe that we are caught up in a very serious struggle between Good and evil,
and evil tries to trick us and hide the good from us;
usually by dressing up something corrupt which pretends to be goodness itself.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden

“It seems to me that there is ‘a spirit of dizziness’,
not only in the hysteria of the mob culture we live in,
not only amongst the liberal anti-Gospel leaders in the Church (such as Bishop Curry);
but now sadly even amongst good and faithful evangelical leaders,
who seemed to swallow the Bishop’s hook, line and sinker.”

David Robertson


(a curious jackdaw watches from the crumbling walls at The Rock of Cashel,
County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I am amazed more and more each day the way in which Satan is at work.

Yet here’s the thing…
most of us don’t like to acknowledge Satan because if we do, we scare ourselves.

Or if we do acknowledge him, we try to make him very small…for that same very reason…
that we tend to scare ourselves with such thoughts.

However we should know, he likes that.

The smaller the better…
An out of sight out of mind sort of approach.

Christians and most folks in general, don’t like being reminded of things
like Satan…that whole ying-yang business of Christianity, faith and a belief in God
countered by an acknowledgment of darkenss, evil, sin and Satan.

For where there is God, there is the polar opposite of God.
But we aren’t keen on the polar opposite of anything other than good, happy
or feel good.

So instead of filling our minds with the negative of bad things,
we prefer to just go about our daily business with little to no thought
of a devil, or evil, or names such as Lucifer or Satan.

That is until something really bad happens, forcing us to take notice…
But then we will, just as abruptly and quickly, turn away as a child with our fingers thrust
in our ears refusing to hear or acknowledge the truth for what it is.

So it is those quiet little day to day advances that Satan takes great pride in…
a stealthy approach to our demise.

I use to always remind my students to be careful about leaving the back door open…

That being the back door of their lives.

I would remind them that Satan does not like to use the front door…
because he does not like to be so obvious nor readily announced.
Rather he prefers using the back door.
A door that is most often overlooked, most often unlocked,
and if the truth be told, left propped open for easy comings and goings.

Elder Paisios, who was a well known Eastern Orthodox ascetic monk who spent the majority of his
life living in a monastery on the holy island of Mt Athos just off the coast of Greece,
once wrote that
“The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware,
those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict
them with self-assurance, logic, thinking criticism.
Therefore we should not trust our logical minds.”

And it is indeed along the lines of this spiritual affliction of ours,
or more aptly, this insidious spiritual warfare which is currently besieging Christianity,
that both our friends the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson, and our favorite rogue Anglican
bishop have each addressed in separate posts offered in just so many days apart.

In the last 48 hours, both clerics have been asked and have offered a few thoughts regarding
the gala which took place this past weekend in the UK.

And in case you missed it…the gala in question was a small wedding that transpired between
one of the Queen’s grandson’s and an American bi-racial, once divorced, actress.

It has been quite the fodder for the tabloids as well as all things news.

Let all of that sink in.
A British Royal former bad boy playboy and a divorced, bi-racial American actress.
Oh the cultural kumbiya found in such a union! Why then shouldn’t the Archbishop
opt to use a wedding as a commentary for the progressive culture wars?!

And whereas the spectacle itself was enough to send all of the entertainment industry,
Hollywood’s ilk and kin, as well as all things newsy into a royal dither, the Archbishop
of Canterbury had to add his own special touch by inviting an American Episcopal cleric,
an invitation mind you that was unbeknownst to the happy soon to wed couple, to come
participate in the ceremony and whip up the already salivating participants and the news
anchors into a higher level of a spinning tizzy then whence they previously were.

Bishop Ashenden notes that “The dear couple had no idea who was being asked to
preach at their wedding.
It was an idea that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
had suggested to them.
They were hardly in a position to know or refuse…

So when Justin Welby suggested Michael Curry as the preacher on this astonishing
world-wide stage, he was also signing up one of the most effective street fighters
for progressive, distorted Christianity who – with great charm and verve –
presents his own preferred version of Jesus to the real one we find in the Gospels.

And yet many folks will have missed the full impact of such a speaker at such an event.
The good bishop reminds us that by having such a speaker as a Bishop Curry this
“matters very much.”

Curry spoke of fire, love, slavery, sex and yes, Jesus in a very lively, entertaining and
most animated fashion.
In other words, he was the entertainment.
However entertainment that many mistakenly thought to be great Gospel teaching…
but the problem was that his “teaching” was anything but that of Holy.

Bishop Ashenden observes that “Curry’s Jesus is preoccupied with social Justice and the
celebration of romance and sexual love wherever it finds you.
The real Jesus warned that social justice would never happen in this world,
that heterosexual marriage was to be between a man and a woman,
and that equality had nothing to do with the Kingdom of Heaven.

Curry twists that round and turns it upside down. He says Jesus likes homosexual marriage
and favours the quest for equality that left-wing politicians have made their life’s work.
Curry says wherever you find ‘love’ you have found God.
But when Jesus defines love it sounds very different from Curry.

Love for Jesus starts with honouring and obeying the Father who created us and
renouncing anything that displeases Him and pollutes his holiness.

Jesus warned his followers time and time again against people who would come in
His name and teach different things.

What we have in the Anglican world at the moment is a struggle for the soul of the Church
and a struggle to tell the truth about God and present the real Jesus.

There is a wonderful saying from Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity,
that our aim ought to be ‘to stand before the real God with the real self with our mind
in our heart’.”

And so what we have is just another back door we’ve left open.
The back door to a very worldly and cultural event in which we’ve allowed to become
something it is not…that being a sanctioned and ordained act of God.

And whereas I am not inferring that an Archbishop nor a Bishop are of the devil, I do
believe however that their own personal backdoors have been left wide open as they
work very hard to twist and rewrite the Gospel to suit today’s most progressive
agenda-

Could we, in our wildest imagination and dreams, think that those who wear collars or
those who stand in pulpits or those who hold bibles could ever be capable of a
distorting, twisting or even changing the very doctrine of our faith,
our beliefs or rewrite the very words of God???
Surely not.

Yet were we not warned that even the devil’s own can easily quote scripture?

“In truth there is only one freedom – the holy freedom of Christ, whereby He freed us from sin,
from evil, from the devil.
It binds us to God. All other freedoms are illusory, false, that is to say, they are all,
in fact, slavery.”

St. Justin Popovich

Links to both posts here:

The struggle to tell the truth about Jesus. Welby, Curry and the integrity of the Gospel.

Right Royal Preaching

The old grey mare ain’t what she use to be…

When we learn from experience, the scars of sin can lead us to restoration
and a renewed intimacy with God.

Charles Stanley


image courtsey the web)

Remember the song from childhood?
The Old Grey Mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…
Meaning that a once fine horse was no longer the fine swift steed she once had been.
Her prime past as she was now old and sluggish…

I could be talking about myself or…
I could be talking about something else entirely.

Apostolic or Apostate…
What say you?

Apostasy:
1 : an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith
2 : abandonment of a previous loyalty

Apostolic:
of or relating to a succession of spiritual authority from the apostles held (as by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox) to be perpetuated by successive ordinations of bishops
and to be necessary for valid sacraments and orders

I received the following e-mail posting by our friend the Wee Flea but oddly it wouldn’t show up
when I clicked on his blog nor did it show up in the reader.

Odd indeed.

So I had no choice but to copy it pretty much word for word in its entirety…
as I found the words important.

Most folks reading these words probably wouldn’t really think anything written about the
Episcopal Chruch in Australia or the Episcopal Chruch of Scotland by an Evangelical
Scottish Presbyterian Free Church pastor of much importance.

The fact that the Episcopal Chruch, be it in Scotland or the US or anywhere
else for that matter—or even her Anglican parent counterpart in the UK…
is each slowly unraveling—however, such a fact is most likely not of any real concern or
relevance to those outside of these said denominations…
but here’s the thing—–
it is vastly important.

It’s important to all Christian Believers.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden, a former UK Anglican cleric, knows first hand the truth behind
David Robertson’s observations…as it is a large factor that lead him to leave his
post as Chaplin to the Queen as well as to leave the denomination he had severed since
completing seminary.

I myself have watched this same ‘observation’ unfolding since the mid-1970’s—
a slowly evolving insidious shift within my own Episcopal church.
At first, the shift was subtle…small and seemingly innocent.

But then it became bold and blatant and oh so defiant.

But when a church body takes God’s tenents, His commands, His words and rewrites them
in order to appease the masses, well, we all have problems.

And so goes one denomination, so goes her sisters.
Much like a domino effect.

The United Methodist Chruch is currently scheduled to hold a special council in order to
set straight its stance on gay marriage and openly gay clergy.

And so whereas some folks would find it rather strong wording to call a church body
an ‘apostate’, David raises the question—do we wish to be apostolic or apostate…
that is our real concern…

The following is the majority of the text body from David’s emailed posting:

The Apostate SEC
So it was with a heavy heart that I was reminded by my friend and brother,
David McCarthy of the other St Thomas’s Anglican –
(this one in Corstorphine Edinburgh) –
that there is another kind of Anglicanism.
One which is more apostate than apostolic.
Sadly as a proud Scot, it is embarrassing to have to confess that it is
the Scottish Episcopal Church which is leading the race to the bottom in
the worldwide Anglican church (although the Americans are not far behind).

The Australians recognised this.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia passed a motion on 7 September 2017,
condemning SEC’s decision to approve same-sex marriage as
“contrary to the doctrine of our church and the teaching of Christ”,
and declaring itself in “impaired communion” with the province.
It also expressed their
“support for those Anglicans who have left or will need to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church
because of its redefinition of marriage and those who struggle and remain”,
and presented their prayers for the return of SEC
“to the doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired relationships will be restored”

1) The Scottish Episcopal Church is Apostate.

It’s not just that in typical Anglican fashion it tolerates heresy and unbiblical practice.
If you belong to a mixed denomination you take that as a given and hope to see it reformed.
But because as a denomination it has now mandated a new view of marriage that
specifically goes against what God has said in his word.
In altering the canon on marriage to exclude gender,
the Scottish Episcopal church condemned Christ, divided the Church and mocked
the Scriptures.

Please note that saying a Church, as in a denomination, is apostate,
does not mean that everyone in that denomination is an apostate.
But nonetheless, why would a biblical Christian want to stay in an apostate denomination?

2) The SEC is dying.

Despite the claim that there are 100,000 Scottish Episcopalians,
the reality is that there is a weekly attendance of around 7,000.
We are told there are 300 churches but most of these are tiny and dying.
According to their own figures, 57% of their congregations are not viable.
It’s not always the case that one should leave a dying denomination,
but the key question is why remain on a sinking ship?

3) Reform from within will not happen.

One of the reasons given for staying in is that we are working for reform.
This is one of the greatest and most deceitful myths that evangelicals hang on to.
The liberals love sending ‘evangelical’ bishops to congregations that are thinking of
leaving, to tell them that ‘hang on, reform can happen, –
whilst they work to ensure that it won’t.
They want the evangelicals manpower and money –
they don’t want the evangelicals gospel, Scripture or Lord!

How do we know that reform won’t happen?
Because there are almost no examples in history of it ever happening.
Because the judgement of God is upon the church –
having left it to its own devices. And because the church has so compromised with
the world that it is determined to prevent any biblical reform.
Of course, I know the answer, often expressed as a pietistic truism –
‘God is sovereign and he can bring about renewal and revival’.

Indeed he is.
And indeed he can.
But just because God can send the ravens to feed me,
does not mean that I don’t go shopping for food!
To rely on the ‘exceptional’ in spiritual matters is as daft as relying on it in material.
God has given us normal ‘means of grace’ through which he works.
The Spirit, speaking in the Church, through the Word, bringing us Christ,
is the normal way that He builds us up. When the Church rejects the Word,
quenches the Spirit and despises the teaching of Jesus – it ceases to be the Church,
and becomes a means of destruction rather than a means of grace.

4) Faithfulness to Christ is more important that faithfulness to a denomination.

I heard a tremendous sermon from Simon Manchester (Anglican!) yesterday –
on Jesus and the temple.
The words that struck him (and me!) were those that spoke of Jesus leaving the Temple.
The temple was the central symbol of Judaism and biblical religion at that time.
But Jesus said it wasn’t about the temple, which would be destroyed,
but about him (and his words which would never pass away).
Every church needs structures –
we all have our temples. But when Jesus leaves the house –
its time to get out.

5) Get out of the burning building.

Before you decide where you are going.
When your home is on fire you don’t sit down in the living room and plan a new home –
you get out.
And then rebuild.

6) There is a hope for real, genuine renewal.

I met Canon David Short.
He is the pastor of an Anglican church in Canada that left the Canadian Anglican province.
(St John’s in Vancouver where JI Packer is an assistant minister).
It is a dreadful story – they lost a $1 million lawsuit
(taken to the courts by the Anglican Church) their buildings, home etc.
They had a hard, tough time for many years.
But now there are 75 churches in their renewed Anglican church,
and they are in fellowship with the majority of Anglicans throughout the world.
The remaining Canadian Anglicans are declining rapidly, closing churches and losing members;
(it is estimated that they losing some 15,000 members per year –
although they are very reluctant to give out any statistics – I wonder why?).
The question for Scottish Episcopalians is–do you want to belong to a dying church on the
pretense that it isn’t – or would you rather be part of a dynamic, renewing church?

7) Scotland needs more Gospel churches.

Of which denomination does not really matter.
Although Australia is heading down the same route as the UK,
regressing towards a Greco/Roman/Pagan culture;
it is not doing so at nearly the same rate as Scotland.
One reason is the number of Gospel churches that there are here.
This past week I spoke to an Anglican bishop who told me that his diocese has 60 parishes –
ALL of them are evangelical (and ‘low church).
That’s 15,000 people in a population of some 1 million making a difference in every part of their communities.
I doubt the whole SEC with its 300 churches has half that number.

8) For the unity of the Church –“ don’t leave Mother Church’ is the cry.

Faithful Scottish Episcopalians will hear that cry many times –
both from liberals and evangelicals.
But who is leaving?
If people in St Thomas’s, St Silas or other evangelical SEC churches leave they are not
the ones being schismatic.
The schismatics are in the Synod and hierarchy who have voted to leave the doctrine,
tradition, Bible, and Head of the Church). For example, the TEC
(the Episcopalian church in the US) have just voted to remove the words
‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘procreation’ from its marriage service in order to make it more
‘LGBT compliant’.

Of course, the SEC leadership here will say that could never happen here.
But if they do so they are not telling the truth.
Evangelicals have been lied to every step of the way –
and yet like suckers, we still keep believing from the false prophets tell us!

And then the protest comes.
But that’s not loving…and it’s not loving to leave.
It’s not loving…?
Is it loving to stay?
Loving to whom?
As for ‘unloving’ just watch how the ‘loving’ wolves turn on the sheep when
they decide to follow the Shepherd and not the thieves!
Legal threats are just the tip of the iceberg.
There is nothing more intolerant and unloving that a liberal ‘Christian’
who has been spurned or challenged!
Ironically if someone votes for St Thomas’s to remain in the SEC, they are voting not for unity – but for schism and disunity.
They are allying with the apostates of the American TEC and rejecting
the vast majority of Anglicans in the Global South.

Of course, it would be ideal if the evangelicals in the SEC all left together,
as one – but given the divided nature of evangelicalism,
the tribalistic nature of Scottish church politics and the fear factor, that appears unlikely…
Still, we can pray for the real unity of the Lord’s people!

9) For the Good of your own souls –and your families.

I meet so many people who tell me that they were once Christians but have now turned away.
Some are from an evangelical background but the vast majority are from ‘liberal’ churches.
It’s little wonder that they turn away.
Because they have not been fed or taught the glorious, beautiful gospel of Christ.
Instead, they have been fed poison.
Why would I expose my family or myself to spiritual food poisoning?
10) For the glory of Christ. That should be the Christians primary concern.
It may be that someone is able to explain how remaining in an apostate denomination
which denies Christ, his Word, and his people; promising obedience to it;
financing and supporting it; brings glory to Christ, but I just can’t see it.
Leaving because you acknowledge Jesus is Lord,
because you love him and want to serve him according to his Word,
may be costly and hard – actually let me rephrase that –
it WILL be costly and hard.
But oh how glorious! We will not give the glory of Christ to another.
That’s why we obey the command of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:14-18.
This passage was not written about marriage…it was written about being yoked
with unbelievers in worship. Hear the Word of the Lord.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be my people.”

2Cor. 6:17

Therefore,

“Come out from them

and be separate,

says the Lord.

Touch no unclean thing,

and I will receive you.”

2Cor. 6:18

And, “I will be a Father to you,

and you will be my sons and daughters,

says the Lord Almighty.”

atheists ain’t got no songs…..

Do not be afraid.
Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

John Paul II


(Steve Martin appearing on David Lettermen singing Atheists ain’t got no song / 2011)

When I scanned my emails and saw that I had a notice of a new posting
from a blog I follow, I opted to investigate a bit further—

I realized there was actually a videoclip in the posting that was sitting at
roughly 42 minutes…
I wasn’t really certain I wanted to be contained for almost three quarters of an hour watching a videoclip in the middle of the day.

There were things to do.

How could I justify sitting at the kitchen table watching a video clip for nearly 45 minutes….what about the cleaning, the wash, the filing, the bills, the shrimp…
the shrimp that needed deveining for this evening’s supper….???

I am a person who isn’t one to sit around.
I am a doer and constantly moving about…as something always needs tending to.
Sitting in the middle of the day, listening and watching a videoclip is a little
hard for me to justify

45 minutes, really??!!

Yet I was curious.
And I also do quote this man all the time.

I am constantly offering this man’s teachings, his preachings, his defenses,
his proclamations…to you…and so do I not owe it to you to really
know a bit more about him????

Of course I do.
If one wants to be truly credible, one must invest time and understanding
before sharing.

Yet I’m not Scottish…well that is… not me exactly but in heritage, yes.
I’m certainly not a Presbyterian nor am I an Evangelical…
I’m still an Episcopalian by name…but just one who happens to no longer
agree with the direction of the Episcopal Church.

What I am is a conservative Christian who believes in the importance of
spreading the word about God, Jesus, sin, death, life and salvation….

So perhaps I needed to invest the time.
Something was nagging at me to give it a look.

I clicked on the video and after about 2 minutes in, I stopped it.
I knew I needed a pen and paper as there was much to be writing down.

David Robertson, the Reformed Presbyterian Minister who heads St. Peter’s Church
in Dundee, Scotland had posted his latest blog post in which he was offering
a videoclip from address given in 2010 for the Christian organization that he
is apart of, SOLAS.
And despite the videoclip being nearly 8 years old,
David had stated that if one really wanted to understand what he was about,
this was probably the best explanation.

The Christian group there in Dundee named SOLAS—was something I really had no idea
about or what it was, I just knew it was something he had his hand in…
but now know—
Solas is a Gaelic word meaning Light—and that Light is the Light of Jesus Christ….

If you visit my world here often, you hear much reference to David.
I found him via this little blog world of ours.
And when I read the things he was writing on his Wee Flea blog, I found myself
most often in total agreement, not all the time mind you, but most of the time as
I’d find myself nodding and offering a silent “Amen”

And as I don’t always agree with everything…
I’ve yet to meet a Christian who is usually 100% with another Christian—
heck most folks find something to disagree over with their own priests, pastors or minister. I don’t know any Christians who totally agree with
each and everyone’s doctrines or denominational background…but at the end of the day
if the bottom line is Jesus Christ for each of us then that is truly our common ground.

Doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or Baptist, Pentecostal or Greek Orthodox…
if Jesus Christ…His birth, his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection
is the chief cornerstone in your life—then we are all on the same page.

I had not read any of David’s books.
I hadn’t even heard of him before…but it seems he was pretty famous for
having debated and besting the avowed Atheist Richard Dawkins.

He even went on to write a book that acted as a Christian follow-up to
Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.

So today’s videoclip, which I’ve attached below was indeed enlightening.

It made me think of Wally’s little meme and comment yesterday which was
“If somebody took a poll of 10 of your acquaintances and asked them the most
notable thing about you, how many of them would say:
“Oh they really love Jesus!?”

(https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com)

This really made me think.
I told Wally I’d probably get “good wife, good mom, good cook,
good teacher’…..but would anyone start with the fact that I do love Jesus,
proclaim Him as my Salvation…have I simply done that more inwardly and
just for self….??
I wasn’t sure I could answer that “thought” and even told Wally I
had been given much to ponder.

I will spend some time over the next couple of days focusing in on some of the key
thoughts I took away from watching David’s video.

He did offer something rather hilarious and that was a mention of Steve Martin singing
the song Atheists ain’t got no songs.
He said if you’d not heard it or seen it, google
it, it was worth the look….and it was!

It was a clip from a David Lettermen show and in true Steve Martin form,
it is hysterical while ringing of so much truth…

I don’t know about Steve Martin’s religious beliefs but I think he leans
toward agnosticism….but no matter, as I thoroughly enjoyed the song…
I think you will too

Plus—do yourself a favor, carve out the roughly 42 minutes to listen to David’s
address.

It matters not that his focus is the Church there in Scotland.
Scotland has a rich Christian history—and was once the loudest Evangelistic voices
in most of the world…but then something happened…just as it is happening here
in the US.

It matters not that you may be Lutheran, Anglican, Southern Baptist, Methodist,
etc…the message is the same.

And I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again…it was a quote from the
former Anglican Bishop Gavin Ashenden,
“It is the secular culture that is attracting many believers”—as more and more
people leave the Church, preferring the worship at the altar of the worldly….

There was a time when my mom, God rest her soul…my quiet, shy and very Episcopalian
mom would have warned me not to be talking about such…I wouldn’t want folks to think
I was some sort of nut, religious fanatic or “Jesus freak” or God forbid,
part of a cult…
but I would have to now say to mother, what better time then now Mom?
What better time than now….?

Give me Scotland or I die

Who has whom? A tale of the Spirit

“The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.”

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

CIMG0563
(The window of the Holy Spirit designed by Lorenzo Bernini , 1660 / St Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

My 91 year old godmother called me yesterday.
She is actually my godmother by adoption as she and her husband, my godfather, were not my “official” godparents when I was baptized (Christened as we like to say in the Anglican realm of my world) at the ripe old age of 6 months. I was “adopted” by them when I was about 15 years old—which was a key moment in my life of which I will one day share. And it only seems fitting that as an adopted child, I should have adopted godparents, as even my godfather was adopted. . .but as I say, adoption is for another day.

For 91 years of age, my godmother may appear physically broken of body, but never of spirit.
She is a formidable warrior in the battle of all things Spiritual despite her now stooping and markedly bent frame.

As with anybody who lives on this earth, she too has known her fair share of frustration, hardships, agonies of the heart– as only a mother can, having felt both discouragement as well as despair. Just because one is considered a mighty spiritual warrior or committed to ones faith never exempts that individual from pain, sorrow or suffering. I often believe the exact opposite to be true. That those who are more inclined to the Spiritual find a greater assault of the hard, the negative and the difficult.

Her stories usually follow a convoluted journey with the point sometimes being remembered, sometimes not. Either way, I learn something new every time. Yesterday was certainly no exception as she held true to form throughout our conversation, weaving and wobbling on one trail of thought to another.
I’m not certain how we got on the subject, as is often the case with her.
I merely ask a simple question such as “how are you?” An hour or so later, as we weave our way from present to past and back again, I am often taken to task, reminded of what really matters, humbled or feel as if I’ve been, as Paul on his road to Damascus, knocked from my place only to be put in my place.

Somehow she got on the subject of a man that she and her husband, my godfather, had once known and worked with.
I had often heard my godfather reference this man in his later sermons, sermons near the end of his tenure as the dean of the Cathedral.
The man’s name is David du Plessis. Or maybe I should say was as he died in 1987.
David du Plessis was a South African Pentecostal minister who was eventually made a naturalized citizen of the United States. His story is steeped in a great and abiding trust in a God which would certainly lead him on a very long yet marvelous journey.
I encourage you to read about Rev. du Plessis, as I have now begun to do so. However it would be too lengthy for me to jump on that tangent today.

At some point, I think in the late 1970’s, an ecumenical group in Atlanta consisting of Catholics, Episcopalians and other various protestant members, had asked Rev. du Plessis to come address an important conference. The conference happened to be held at the Cathedral of St Philip, the church where my godfather was the dean.

Not attending the meeting himself but feeling obliged as the head rector of the hosting church, my godfather made his way to find Rev du Plessis before the meeting began, to personally welcome him to the church as well as to introduce himself as the hosting rector.
My godfather was already aware that Rev du Plessis was very active in the Renewal movement that was currently taking place in both the Catholic and Episcopal churches as he was proving to be a key component. Rev du Plessis had actually been invited by the Vatican in 1975 to address an ecumenical council held at St Peter’s in Rome of both Catholic and Anglican renewal groups.

As my godfather introduced himself, he wanted to make certain that Rev du Plessis realized that he, my godfather, was very familiar with the work of the Holy Spirit–going to great lengths to explain that he had been prayed to receive the Spirit as a baby when he was baptized, later when he was confirmed in the church, and still again later when he was ordained as a priest. As most ministers want fellow ministers to understand that they too “get it,” my godfather certainly wanted Rev du Plessis to understand that he too knew all about the Holy Spirit.

Rev du Plessis listened politely then warmly smiled telling my godfather that he had no doubts that my godfather had indeed been prayed over to receive the Holy Spirit into his heart and life but the question was not whether my godfather had the Spirit, but rather did the Spirit have my godfather.
This was the “ah ha” moment for my godfather and a pivotal changing point in not only his role as a priest but most importantly in his life.
A moment that left him speechless, troubled and found him quickly changing the subject.

His assumption had always been that as one who had been prayed for to receive the Spirit of God, the Spirit therefore had entered. . .had He not?

And so I was left yesterday, at the end of the story also wondering–not so much about my godfather as I knew he had eventually gone on to be a leading figure in the Renewal movement in both the Anglican and Catholic communities, not only in Atlanta but worldwide as he too traveled to Rome in 1980 to address a conference under the direction of Pope John Paul II.

But I wondered. . .what about my own dealings with the Spirit?
Did I have the Spirit or did the Spirit have me?
As that is now the nagging question. . .

O Divine Master

DSCN0083

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek to be consoled, as to console. To be understood, as to understand. To be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
― St. Francis of Assisi

Growing up, I don’t know exactly when or where it actually took place or how it all began, but I always seemed to knew about St. Francis. He seemed to be just a part of my young life’s knowledge bank. Not so much about his story or history. Not the sinner to saint route of passage. Rather it was most likely because he was always associated with animals. Every time I ever found a small wounded bird, baby chipmunk or the typical little garden shrew out in the yard (growing up in the city our “wildlife” was a bit limited), I would run in the house to find a shoebox all the while silently praying that St. Francis would help the little animal I was about to “nurse” back to health. Unfortunately not many, if any, of my patients survived.

Later in my life, when I was a senior in high school and active in Young Life (a nondenominational Christian Youth Group that reached across all local schools), I was introduced to the music of John Michael Talbot. My knowledge of Mr. Talbot, or Bother John ,was a sort of quasi understanding. I knew he was a Franciscan, but that he was married. He was involved with a “community” of like minded Franciscans…secular and religious alike, out in Arkansas. Seemed an odd place for a group of Franciscans as I thought that group was Italian in origin. So much for my limited Anglican understanding.

But it was the music, the hauntingly prayerful music that deeply spoke to my soul. Suddenly I was hearing a voice, along with the right inflection of tone, that reached down to my core and invoked my actual feelings of need—just how I felt and wished to express myself in that meditative type of prayer–but it was all put to music–a simple yet beautiful arrangement of music.

The album, yes the big vinyl wonderful scratched albums of my youth, the album that I most clearly remember was/ is “Come To The Quiet”–an album based entirely on the Psalms. John Michael Talbot was singing the Psalms—as the Psalms, in ancient Jewish tradition were intended to be sung. This 70’s something little city girl Episcopalian had no idea. To me they had just been a recited part of the liturgical service at Church. A seemingly boring mantra that we used throughout our service. But here, this was different. Here in this album, with this unseen voice, spoke emotion—the same emotion that was buried deep within my being just waiting for the right pry-bar to come along and lift the heavy seal, awakening my own soul.

Thus began my love for John Michael Talbot, his music, as well as for his story, plus my life long love of the Psalms—those prayers of anguish or joy that always seem to best capture my heart and my cries and my pleas to my unseen Creator. Brother John and his wife helped lead a singing ministry and helped to create the Little Portion Hermitage out in Arkansas–a Franciscan based community for laity and religious alike wishing to live in a cloistered catholic Franciscan tradition. This is where I learned that the secular individual, the regular person who is not a nun, monk or priest, can actually follow in the Franciscan tradition by becoming a part of the Third Order—taking vows similar to those seeking to live a life in a religious order but still maintaining life in the “outside” world such as at work or those who are married.

There was such a peacefulness in those albums. I remember buying the cassette tapes, playing them over and over in my car. I used them as a type of prayer–especially when I was in college. College being such a difficult place for a young growing Christian. Those tapes were a type of lifeline to me and God. My own soul would cry out as the voice on the tapes cried out to God. I can still vividly recall sitting out in my car waiting for class to begin, in the early hours of morning, watching the sun climb into the sky, listening to and praying with the songs on that particular tape. Over and over…clinging to the words as if when I got out of the car, I suddenly entered “the World” and it was not always a place where I could easily hang on to God.

All these many years later, I still have a CD of ‘Come to the Quiet’ in my car with my favorite Psalm being tract 10, Psalm 62 (I also love the last tract as well, Psalm 131–the namesake of the album–come to the quiet)—tears still well in my eyes as I sing/ pray the words of that powerful claim. He is my stronghold, my rock and my deliverer………