looking for saints in all kinds of places

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

St. Augustine


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was at this moment that his life turned.

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

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

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

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

Namely, that life isn’t all about them.

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

Some seem to understand this better than others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Micha 6:8

Sin and Confession

“No conflict is more pivotal to the heart and soul of America than the sin battle.”
David Fiorazo

“If forces of sexual deviancy prevail, every part of our culture will be corrupted
and contaminated beyond repair…
Religious principle, tolerance, and rights of conscience mean nothing to pro-sodomy advocates.
They will remorselessly crush anyone and anything that gets in their path…
In their quest for cultural domination,
they will relentlessly extinguish the light of sexual normalcy and morality,
as well as the light of Christianity.”

Bryan Fischer
former Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association


(fungus growing on a fallen tree / Cades Cove, TN / Julie Cook / 2018)

Sin.

It’s a word that we take for granted yet it is a word whose actions are destroying us.
For we are its actions and we seem not to even care.

Our culture has opted to expunge the word from our vocabulary while blindly
embracing its very nuances.

And what of the Chruch?

She is either impotently silent or either she busies herself by embracing those
very nuances in order to appear more viable, more likable, more cultural.

And yet sadly, once again, we hear of the scandal and predation from those very
souls who are entrusted to represent this bride of Christ, the Church.

We are betrayed.
We are complicit.
We are quiet.
We are culpable.

The following quote by the martyred Confessing Church pastor Deitrich Bonhoeffer could have
easily been stated today rather than 78 years ago.

Bonhoeffer was speaking of Nazi Germany and of the German Lutheran Chruch’s blood
it bore upon it hands… but his words could readily speak to us today…
speaking to the Catholic Chruch, the Anglican and Episcopal Church, the Methodist Chruch,
the Presbyterian Church…
his words could be directed to most of us who claim to be Christians of the 21st century.

We the church must confess that we have not proclaimed often or clearly enough
the message of the One God who has revealed Himself for all time in Christ Jesus,
and who will tolerate no other gods beside Himself.

She must confess her timidity, her cowardice, her evasiveness and her dangerous concessions.

She was silent when she should have cried out because the blood of the innocent was
crying aloud to heaven.
The church must confess that she has witnessed the lawless application of brutal force,
the physical and spiritual suffering of countless innocent people,
oppression, hatred, and murder.

And that she has not raised her voice on behalf of the victims.
And has not found a way to hasten to their aid.
The church is guilty of the deaths of the weakest and most defenseless brothers
of Jesus Christ.
The church must confess that she has desired security and peace, quiet,
possession, and honor to which she has desired security and peace, quiet, possession,
and honor to which she has no right.
She has not born witness to the truth of God and by her silence,
she has rendered herself guilty,
because of her unwillingness to suffer for what she knows to be right.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1940

Bishop Gavin Ashenden has recently addressed the tragic issue of predation in the church
and of the current need for the Chruch to speak up while she owns up to her responsibility–
finally speaking the Truth while she gets busy with a much-needed Spring cleaning…

Gay predators, telling the truth and spring-cleaning the Church.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sine that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Hebrews 12:1

Utopia???

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even
glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.
And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail.
Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”

Oscar Wilde


(a view of a portion of “the cove” Cades Cove, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park /
Julie Cook/ 2018—a little piece of utopia)

Many many years ago when I was but a wee lass in high school, our cheerleaders
would lead the crowds gathered in the stadium, ready for those fall Friday night
gridiron showdowns, with a rousing rendition of
“We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how ’bout you!?”

Back and forth we’d chant…the cheerleaders and the fans…

So now tell me…
why after all these many years later do I hear that same chant resonating in my head,
albeit with a slightly different variation of wording??!!

…”we’ve got trouble, yes we do, we’ve got trouble, how ’bout you?”

I think it’s because this same story keeps popping up over and over again leaving me
nothing but unsettled.

It’s the story about the 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasi-Cortez Socialist Democrat who is
pretty much set to win the New York Congressional seat she’s chomping at the bit over,
come November.

Being 28 years old, she is two years younger than my son…and she is the same age as many
of my former students.
Those who are more idealistic while remaining totally unrealistic.

And I have no problems stating the fact that she, along with most of her millennial cohorts,
all have some unreal and lofty sorts of Utopian notions as to how life should be…
and yet they have no idea of how a Utopian society is to manage itself.

Because in part…there is no such thing nor will there ever be such.

This lack of reality is due in part because they have no real clue as to how many
past societies have attempted such…with each one failing miserably.

Many with tragic results.

Think Hitler, think Lenin, think any sort of cult leader…

All in part due to the fact that this unrealistic desired ideal has no true concept of
management nor of how history will, not if but will, repeat itself.

Physics teaches that any void left open will be filled.
It matters not how it is filled, but the fact is that it will be filled none the less.

Saying all of those wonderful pie in the sky happy words…words spoken because the one
speaking believes folks want to hear such…

Yet has anyone informed these kids that if it sounds too good to be true…
99.9% it is not and will not be true.

People are people and each person, like it or not, has free will—
they…meaning you, me, them and us all have the will to do such and to play along…
or…
we have the choice not to do such and not to play along…
the will to actually opt out of this whole cooperation notion of kumbaya living.

Reading a recent article by the freelance writer Lauren DeBellis Appell, I was alarmingly
reminded of how this democracy of ours is really teetering on a precipice.

Ms. Appell writes:
“The 28-year-old candidate acts like she’s the millennial version of Oprah,
except there’s one major distinction.
All the “free” stuff she’s giving away has to be paid for by someone–
and in this case it’s not her.
It’s you–the American taxpayer.”

And that’s the thing…so many young up and coming politicians, along with, sadly,
some of their senior mentor members, are touting some really grandiose ideas.
It’s a marvelously bright new sort of futuristic day waiting for you, me and everyone…
yet the problem is that money does not grow on trees, there is no fairy godmother,
and there are no magic hocus pocus words to zap all of these dreamy thoughts into a living,
functioning reality.

Pretty happy words remain empty when there remains no meat on the bone.
There must be the necessary finances and concrete plans to back up these futuristic
Utopian visions.

Burdens such that cannot be borne on the shoulders of the working middle class.

Hopefulness will always be a must, but reality is always the bottom line of necessity…

It is the requirement needed in order for any society to function successfully…
Idealistic dreamy sorts of ramblings offered by those seeking leadership roles will remain
merely dreamy notions for as long as these hoped-for leaders have no concept as to how
things work, how things are paid for, how monies are raised and secured and how people
are governed.
People will not remain mindless lemmings for long.

History teachers us such.
Thus it is mandatory that these young hopefull wannabes study the history of past nations,
governments and leaderships…

For a pig wearing lipstick is still just a pig.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/25/ocasio-cortezs-socialist-fairytale-could-destroy-american-dream.html

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances
contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

Romans 16:17

reign of terror

“The secret of freedom lies in educating people,
whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”

―Maximilien Robespierre

Robespierre’s quote seems sensible enough…
for I’d bet we can all agree that an education does truly open minds.

But opens to what?

On the flip side to that opening of ignorant minds to that of knowledge,
would it not then depend on the education that is being provided…
provided to give this particular gift of knowledge?

So when it is a state-run, state-funded institution offering said education,
aka the knowledge provider, well then…
I suppose you get a state’s worth of education/knowledge…be that for good or bad.

Thus we shouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there might be just a wee tad of skewing
buried in all that educating…a skewing that leans back toward the state…but I digress.

Today’s thoughts are not exactly about education…
or maybe they actually are…I’ll let you decide that once you take all of this in…
as to whether or not you learn something…be it good or bad.

Today’s post is really just a post about a particular type of lesson…
a lesson which focuses on a new and troubling trend.

The other day I read a rather interesting article by Newt Gingrich.

Now you can say what you will about the former Speaker of the House,
but being a close friend of the Speaker’s late first wife and mother to his two daughters,
I can certainly say my fair share…
however, I will say what she always graciously said…” he may be a lot of things but out of
all those things, he is extremely smart…”
She even would often use the word brilliant…

Despite having every right to say some other choice and more fitting words…
my friend would always opt to share the good by choosing to offer a positive
observation. And in this case, it was certainly true.

So with that being said, we should know that the Speaker, in turn, knows his stuff…
especially when it comes to his passions…
and those passions are history and politics.

So in this recent article, Mr. Gingrich shares both his knowledge
and passion with regards to a dangerous opening of Pandora’s box by the Democratic party.

The article’s opening sentence says it all:
“a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) wrote an article for
Vox explaining the movement’s goals –
to end capitalism and radically change America.”

It seems that Mr. Gringrich is concerned, as well we all should be,
with this current growing trend in the Democratic Party…
the trend of a hatching of a hybrid in the guise of youth, vigor, newness, and relativism…
that being the Democratic Socialists.

Let those two words sink in slowly…
Democratic + Socialist.

Democratic + Socialist = a demon in the making

Or so says our professor for the day, Professor Gingrich.
(who did indeed teach college classes)

I never thought I’d live long enough to hear Socialism as a viable option in the US
coming from those other than odd little fringe groups…
so maybe hell is indeed freezing over because these youthful, truly ignorant, idealist
candidates are actually being elected.

And I suppose we can thank Bernie Sanders for unlocking this proverbial box and
gleefully lifting the lid.
But I suspect our thanks can go back even farther than Mr. Sanders.

Gingrich goes on to quote Meagan Day, a member of the East Bay Chapter of DSA,
as saying “in the long run, Democratic Socialists want to end capitalism.”

Who else vehemently denounced capitalism???… Let’s think…
What did our history lessons teach us?
Was is Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, the Bolsheviks, the Communists…?

Gingrich observes that the recently elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
who defeated a senior Democrat in New York City’s 14th Congressional District
as now going on a whirlwind media tour,
spreading the gospel of socialism.

This explicit goal of ending capitalism makes clear what Ocasio-Cortez meant when she
said cryptically in a recent interview, that
“capitalism has not always existed in the world,
and it will not always exist in the world.”

This is a clear threat to the system which has made us prosperous and the envy of the world,
but I appreciate the honesty.
Ultimately, the United States is a democratic republic.”

But Gingrich actually prefers to look further back to a different Nation that underwent
its own revolution of change…
all the way back to the French Revolution.

He does so because he notes that “however, the second notable item in Day’s
article suggests that Democratic Socialists don’t value democracy all that much.
Day also identified herself as a staff writer at a New York-based,
socialist magazine called Jacobin.
In fact, several members of the Democratic Socialists of America are writers and
editors at Jacobin magazine.”

And so who cares whether or not a magazine opts to name itself Jacobin
or that there are those who desire to identify themselves as Jacobian?

Gingrich continues with our history lesson…

The Jacobins were the most violent and radical political group of the French Revolution.
Led by Maximilien Robespierre, the group responded to a growing backlash against
the revolution by executing anyone their so-called Committee of Public Safety
deemed insufficiently loyal.

Gingrich makes note that the estimate is that over 40,000 people were beheaded by the
guillotine for being considered in opposition to the Jacobian rule.
Gingrich then shares a moving true story about a play which he and his wife attended
a few years ago that told the story of a group of nuns who were beheaded for not
denouncing their faith and adhering to the Jacobian way…

“A few years ago, Callista and I saw “Dialogues of the Carmelites”
at the Washington National Opera.
It is a moving, true story of the Carmelite nuns who refused to denounce Christ at
the peak of the Reign of Terror.
(The French Revolution was virulently anti-Catholic –
many churches were closed and reopened as “Temples of Reason.”)
The nuns were beheaded for their unwillingness to denounce their faith.
Moments before the guillotine dropped,
they displayed the power of God’s love by singing hymns and renewing their vows.

A few years later we visited the Picpus Cemetery in Paris.
It holds the graves of the martyred nuns and more than 1,300 victims of the Terror
in a six-week period of 1794.
It is a very sober reminder of what the Jacobins did during the Reign of Terror.
It is not a record for which any American should advocate.”

And so if you’re one to think that all that is in the past…these are just superficial
coincidences Gingrich cautions…
“It is hard to imagine a modern-day Reign of Terror happening in America.
But consider the recent phenomenon of outrage mobs on social media demanding people
be fired and ostracized for expressing un-PC points of view.

Think about the left-wing activists taking over classrooms to prevent conservative
voices from speaking.
Think about the rash of people being attacked for wearing MAGA hats.
Think about the violence of Antifa.

Perhaps it is not so difficult to imagine.”

So perhaps those new demons who are currently being unleashed from this newly unlocked box
shouldn’t be so full of themselves as it would behoove them to remember the fates of previous
generations and their revolutionaries…

Trotsky was assassinated by means of an icepick when Stalin sent the secret
police to Mexico to find him.
While Robespierre’s very own Committee of Public Saftey turned on him…
arresting him, placing him in the very cell where he had once sent Marie Antoinette
as he eventually met the same fate with the guillotine.

So before these new “socialists” begin claiming a new day in this brave new world, a look back to
a history lesson just might be in order… they might be surprised who it is crying
“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/18/newt-gingrich-democrats-have-no-idea-what-demons-are-unleashing.html

sanity remains despite insanity’s fight for dominance

For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important.
We tend to forget how huge a part of a man’s life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate,
under Nero or St. Louis.
Daybreak is a never-ending glory,
getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance;
food and friends will be welcomed;
work and strangers must be accepted and endured;
birds will go bedwards and children won’t,
to the end of the last evening.

—G.K. Chesterton
from the essay What’s Right with the World,
found in In Defense of Sanity

Two things…well maybe even more but two things first.

First…I saw this shelf fungus, or full blown mushroom, growing directly out of the side
of a tree…and at first glance, I asked my husband…
“is that thing real???”
with his woodsy savvy response, “of course it’s real”

“Huh….who knew?!” is all I could muster in reply.


(a fungus among us / The Great Smokey Mts National Park / Julie Cook / 2018

Secondly…what about G.K.???

Is Mr. Chesterton not hitting the proverbial nail on the head with his very current
words???

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Chesterton…Gilbert Keith to be exact,
Mr. Chesterton came into this world in 1874 in London and died in 1936 at his home
in Buckinghamshire, England.

He was a prolific writer, being considered by many, the greatest writer of the 20th century.
He never attended college however but rather opted to attend art school,
earning a degree in illustration.
Yet it was after being asked to contribute an essay on art criticism to a magazine that
his lifelong passion for writing and his career as a writer, would not stop until
his death at age of 62…
and yet it never really has stopped as his words live on most enthusiastically
to this day.

And it is due to his prolific writing that Mr. Chesterton remains as current and
as relevant as he did at the turn of the century…that being the turn of the 19th
to the 20th century.

It was actually from the writings of Chesterton that lead a young atheist by the name
of C.S. Lewis to conversion to Christianity…
but Chesterton first would have to come to conversion himself.

Born of Unitarian parents, as a young man Chesterton and his brother veered toward a
fascination with the occult and that of Qujia Boards…as this was a time of a cultural
interest in such…a time when seances were all the rage and much in vogue with most of
cultured society.

Intellectualism and science were both coming into their own as Christianity was
being seen as the stuff of fables and fairy tales as well as too stringent for
those seeking to dabble in all things ‘other than’…
for this was an age of enlightenment.

Chesterton credits his wife Frances, who he married in 1901, with actually leading
him back to the fold of believers.
They became members of the Anglican Church…yet Chesterton would refer to
Anglicanism as a “pale imitation” and eventually joined the Catholic Church in 1922.

It was at this point that Chesterton became what many consider to be one of the
staunchest of all times apologists for the Christian Faith.

Chesterton was equally blessed with the gift of gab and debated the likes of
H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Clarence Darrow and not only
lived to tell about it but was considered to be the victor of each debate leading
George Bernard Shaw to proclaim that “the world is not thankful enough for Chesterton.”

And so as I read today’s quote, I found it amazingly instep and even quite timely.

In fact, reading the quote and not knowing it was from Chesterton,
I would have thought any ardent
Christian living today might have said such.

And so it was on our recent trip to the mountains–Cades Cove to be exact, that we
found ourselves wandering into an old creaking white clappered church…
This small mountain Methodist church’s original log hewn structure, built in 1820,
is long gone …leaving in its place the current surviving structure which dates to 1902.


(a pic of the church I took several years back during the fall of the year / Cades Cove /
Julie Cook)

I find that there is something not only peaceful about this long empty church but
actually inviting…

The setting which surrounds this bastion of faith beckons to my soul.


(a view looking back to the right of the Chruch / Julie Cook / 2018)

As we walked inside this glimpse of days gone by, breathing in the stale dusty old air,
feeling the ancient wooden planks gently give and squeak underfoot,
I immediately saw the same simple altar with the same simple wooden cross
hung on the wall…of which was still standing after 25 years when I first took a picture
of our son standing at that very same altar as he once thought seminary was in his future,
I felt an immediate sense of coming home.

Yet on this particular visit, splayed open in reverent fashion on the ancient plain
wooden altar, sat a Bible.
A worn open Bible…
And whenever I find a lonely open Bible,
I am always intrigued as to where might this bible be opened…
what passage did a previous visitor find important to leave for
those who followed after…

The Bible was opened to the Book of Lamentations…
with one section of verse shining like a blinding light…
Lamentations 3:20-24

My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

So given Mr. Chesterton’s words regarding our tendency to take politics
(and our current state of events) way too seriously,
of which is oh so easy to do with one click of a button, it is a deep comfort
to see those long-standing words still there, still consistant, still constant…
a reminder that despite our dire current state of affairs,
the Lord remains my portion as my hope rests only in Him…

ailing?

“Sin separates us from the presence of God”
David Fiorazo, The Cost of Our Silence


(image of a WWII medic’s bag found on pintrest)

Slowly picking my way through David Fiorazo’s book The Cost of Our Silence,
picking as if I was walking ever so slowly and ever so carefully through a thicket of
freshly ripening blackberries…
eyeing the bushes just so as I closely look for the riper and juiciest berries…
so goes my reading.

And whereas time is also a contributing factor to my lack of speed, I seem able only to
take in a page here and a page there…

I’m jumping around a bit as yesterday I offered a look back to our nation’s backstory
as we took a peek back in time to examine the ideals that the pilgrims had brought with them
as they left family, friends, and home an entire ocean behind…
risking everything, including their lives, in search of a place where free worship of
the Creator would be paramount.

Today I’m going to skip ahead in our story, just a tad before I backup again another day
as there is still much that needs to be shared historically as to why we are the nation we are…
or perhaps that is,,, the nation we were…

However, today, as I was taking in a page here and there…
the following quote really jumped out at me…

“We can (and should) talk much about the love of God,
but we are doing the gospel and those who hear us a disservice if we do not also talk
about sin and the wrath of God.”

For you see this is a bit of a recurring theme of mine…
the theme that there is both sin and wrath…
God’s wrath to be precise.

But no one wants to hear about sin, sinful nature, repercussions, a wrathful God, consequences,
etc…
Because instead, we’ve turned all of that into political correctness and tolerance.

David goes on…
“There are many symptoms of the disease (sin), but God has provided a cure (Jesus Christ)
for the cause and has given us a written prescription (the Bible) to follow.
The Great Physician is always on call, so let us speak about the only remedy and
keep referring people to Him!”

Our culture has no idea that it is ailing…no idea that it is truly sick.
It ignores the symptoms, denies the disease, and discredits the Physician
more and more each day.

Any psychologist will tell you that it is human nature to run through some very basic
emotions when confronted with something really bad and or tragic…
with denial being right up there in the earliest stages.

Churchs today are so desperately wanting to cling to dwindling congregations or to a
youthful generation that is heeding the call of the world, so much so that the Churchs are
compromising the entire concept of sin and God’s wrath. Going so far as to offering a
desperately needy and thirsty people a watered down Gospel narrative…having turned it
into a feel good placebo.

No one ever really wants to hear that they are living wrong, immoral, sinful lives…
they’d rather be patted on the head, handed a sucker and told to go scoot off
and keep playing.

But that is not the reality of our world.
It is not the reality of the Chrisitan faith.

If we do not accept sin for what it is…
If we do not admit that we are in need of healing and saving…
then we will incur wrath…

So rather than deal with such, myriads of folks have opted to simply deny any such thing.
No God equals no sin, equals no illness, equals no need, equals blisful ignorance.

And so we, those remnants of the faithful, who understand that sin is sin, death is death,
Satan is real and that healing and saving are paramount… must speak.

We must speak up, out and loud.

David reminds us that opposition to such talk will be a given.
There will be pushback.
There will be ridicule.

But we must remember from whence comes that pushback and ridicule and to where it is actually
directed.

“Most of us understand in today’s culture that living our faith in public will attract
resistance, ridicule, and even hatred.
If we remember our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12),
we will not take it personally when people come against us.
Their problem is with Jesus Christ, not us.”

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces
of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12)

taking the middle ground

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill.
John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity” (1630)

“Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land,
they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven,
who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all
the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feete on the firme and stable earth…
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Fatih and Honor
of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony”

William Bradford: History of Plymouth Plantation c. 1650

According to History.com, William Bradford was a founder as well as a longtime governor
of the Plymouth Colony.

He was one of the original Mayflower passengers and signed the Mayflower Compact.
Bradford helped to draft the legal code ” and facilitated a community centered on
private subsistence agriculture and religious tolerance.
Around 1630, he began to compile his two-volume “Of Plymouth Plantation,”
one of the most important early chronicles of the settlement of New England.”

Bradford was a staunch member of the Separatist Chruch, a church body that was opposed
to the Chruch of England’s dominance over the lives of all English citizens.
The Church was (is) a state church overseen by the sitting monarch and so religious
groups such as the Separatists,
who were opposed to the Catholic influence over the Church,
felt an increasing need to find a place that was more open and tolerant to
varying sects of Christianity.

So as a young man, Bradford left England, moving to the Dutch Republic (Holland)
where religious freedoms were more widely permitted.

Bradford eventually married and began a family—
but as time went on, there was concern over the encroaching strong Dutch influence
upon the English Seperatirt’s children…
This was the impetus needed for the Separatists to seek a new life in a new land.
Thus joining the Mayflower pilgrims…pilgrims seeking a new land, a God-fearing land,
yet a God-fearing land accepting of a diverse Chrisitan faith, Bradford and his family
made the perilous journey across the Atlantic.

“Bradford’s history was singular in its tendency to separate religious from
secular concerns.
Unlike similar tracts from orthodox Massachusetts Bay,
Bradford did not interpret temporal affairs as the inevitable unfolding of
God’s providential plan.
Lacking the dogmatic temper and religious enthusiasm of the Puritans of the
Great Migration, Bradford steered a middle course for Plymouth Colony between the
Holy Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the tolerant secular community of Rhode Island.

A common sense sort of man…seeking the middle ground in a new world.
Which leaves me wondering, when I watch and hear what’s taking place around this
nation of ours, a nation that was once the hope of a people seeking to
worship the God of all Creation as that of His created while worshiping that of
His risen son…worshiping in the tolerance of varying denominations,
I wonder where that nation has gone…as that notion of worshiping the Creator…
a nation under God, is now fraught with grave contention.

David Fiorazo begins his book, The Cost of Our Silence,
with this look back to our founding as a God-fearing, Christian tolerant nation…
albeit when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the idea of a “nation” was something
far from their thinking.
Theirs was simply the thinking of survival while building a new life in a new world.

Survival, living, worshiping and finding a place of happiness and peace.

David notes that in the earliest days in this land, when Christians experienced
hard times, their desperation caused them to rely on God.

Conversely, when things are going well, we (now) often choose to rely on ourselves.

Throughout history, the Lord often allowed persecution in order to turn people back to Him.

Men came to these shores hoping to establish a God-fearing settlement that would flourish
on faith and freedom.

So opens Chapter 1 “What’s Happening to Our Heritage?” in David Fiorazo’s book.

And so I will leave us today with this one thought offered by David…

“Has God removed His hand of protection and Providence from our nation?”

As William Bradford was near death, he reflected on life in the new land
by way of a journal entry.
He had been governer as well as a major designer in the community,
establishing the standard of living, the laws,
the judicial system as well as the economic system to be used
for that of Plymouth as well as the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Most importantly he helped to establish what was to be the spiritual life of
these early communities. A spiritual life based on the acknowledgment of God
and that of His Divine intent for His created in this new land…
along with an acceptance of how each man and woman would worship..
It was to be the basis for our religious tolerance today…

Bradford found himself opining the sentiment that this once dutiful Nation was
beginning to actually show the early signs, signs during Bradford’s own lifetime,
signs which seem to be coming into full fruition today,
that this nation was and is finding herself no longer willing to acknowledge the Creator
of all of the Universe…
nor is she willing to afford those who continue to call themselves Christians the
God given rights to do so.

And so we now ask ourselves…Has God removed His hand of protection and Providence
from our nation… because we first removed our faith and belief in Him…?

Shortly before his death, Governor Bradford wrote a journal entry:
“O sacred bond, whilst inviolably preserved?
How sweet and precious were the fruits that flowed from the same!
But when this fidelity decayed, then their ruin approached.
O that these ancient members had not died or been dissipated
(if it had been the will of God)
or else that this holy care and constant faithfulness had still lived,
and remained with those that survived…
But (alas) that subtle serpent hath slyly wound himself under fair pretenses of necessity
and the like, to untwist these sacred bonds and ties…
I have been happy, in my first times, to see, and with much comfort to enjoy,
the blessed fruits of this sweet communion, but it is now a part of my misery in old age,
to find and feel the decay and want thereof (in a great measure)
and with grief and sorrow of heart to lament and bewail the same.
And for others’ warning and admonition, and my own humiliation, do I here note the same.”