Prophets, St Matthias and the kneeling of the Church to Isalm


(“Saint Matthias” | Serra Brothers workshop)

Tuesday was the feast day of St Matthias–May 14th on the Gregorian calendar…
the calendar most of the world now follows.
However, our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters follow the Julian calendar
and so their commemoration of the feast day is August 9th.

But for our purposes today, for those of us who adhere to the Gregorian calendar,
we’ll just stick with May 14th.

St Matthias was the disciple that, following the death and Resurrection of Jesus,
and then that of his Ascension was voted on by Peter and the others to fill the void left
by the betrayal and subsequent suicide of Judas Iscariot.
(Acts 1:15-26)

It was the replacing of one who betrayed with one who remained faithful.
It was also a fulfilling of prophecy.

May 14th was also a day that I actually had time to catch the latest youtube episode of
Anglican Unscripted with US host Kevin Kallsen and our favorite rouge Anglican priest,
Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

Our dear friend actually started the segment by mentioning that their day’s discussion
was to be quite timely given the fact that it was the feast day of St Matthias.

After watching the episode, I understood the nod to the significance of St Matthias.
That being the replacing of betrayal with dedicated devotion.

A devotion that, in the face of severe trial and grave threat to life,
never wavered–one iota.

Those in the US, other than disheartened Episcopalians and Anglicans such as myself,
may not understand nor be interested in what a former British Anglican bishop has to say.
They may wonder why I continually reference the man.

So for those of you who wonder who in the heck I keep talking about, quoting or referencing,
in a Wikipedia and from his own bio nutshell, here is who is he is…
“Gavin Roy Pelham Ashenden (born 1954)
is a British Anglican clergyman.
He was a Chaplain to the Queen from 2008 until his resignation in 2017.
He was ordained in the Church of England, but left it in 2017.
That year was consecrated a missionary bishop by the Christian Episcopal Church,
a continuing Anglican jurisdiction outside of the Anglican Communion.”
On the Feast of St Michael and All Angels 2017,
the Archbishop of the Christian Episcopal Church announced that Dr. Ashenden
had been consecrated as a Missionary bishop to the UK and Europe.

But there is more to the man than a quick bio—

Bishop Ashenden knows music and its history, he has a law degree, he studied psychology
and theology, he is an accomplished and deeply published author, he has been a teacher,
preacher and even smuggler—smuggling Bibles into the communist Soviet Union.
He has served in small parishes and he has served a Queen.

He is keenly knowledgable about history be it the history of religions, governments or law.

In other words, he is a man who knows his stuff.

Yet because he knows “his” stuff, why should any of that matter to you, you might now be asking.

Well, because my friend, if you are one who considers themselves a Christian, as well as a member
of the Judaeo/ Christian democratic Western Civilization, Bishop Ashenden paints a grave yet
painfully honest picture of your very world…a truth that you need to familiarize yourself with
before you are caught like so many will be, blindsided.

Would I call Bishop Ashenden a prophet?

Perhaps.
Perhaps I would.

I do know that much of the modern-day world wonders why we have not heard from the
likes of such prophets like those from the days of old.

Those wizened voices who rose up most often from obscurity,
bending the ears of kings and warriors alike by foretelling things that were to be.
Those men who dreamed dreams and shared visions.

Not like a Nostradamus mind you, but more like a Jeremiah, Obadiah or an Isaiah,
or even a John The Baptizer.

I know I’ve been guilty of lamenting ‘where are the prophets?’
Where are those voices of Truth…?

But as I’ve pondered such a notion…it has dawned on me that the prophets are indeed
alive and well…they are found the world over and rest in the voices of men and women who
speak the Truth about Jesus Christ…His life, His teachings, His death, and His resurrection.

They are the ones who do not bend the Truth for convenience sake.
They are not the appeasers or the pleasers of an egocentric society or a materialistic world.

They are the men and women who literally die each and every day for their faith because their
trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Christ alone.

They do not care about social norms, culturalisms, objectivism, convenience, or popularity.
They do not care what a world gone mad thinks of them.

They are not afraid.
For those who speak Truth are never afraid.

During Tuesday’s segment, host Kevin Kallsen made mention that he had seen on a
recent Yahoo News interview freshman Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib,
who happens to be a practicing Muslim, state that the notion of the Holocaust gives her
“a calming feeling.”

Are you kidding???
Holocaust and clam used within the same sentence???

And yet Congress, along with mainstream media, has basically all ignored such a statement.

Who in their right mind has any sort of sense of calm or peace whenever thinking of the Shoah,
in other words, the Holocaust???

I’ve looked into the back story a bit and it appears that some feel her words were taken
out of context…but, I don’t agree.

And so as the segment’s conversation continues,
the good Bishop actually takes a closer look at Islam and that of the Chruch’s odd embrace
of a religion that has always stated that living
in harmony with the followers of the Cross will never be tolerated.

Bishop Ashenden notes that Mohammed’s Islam has, for the better part of 60 years,
been taught by theologians to be one of the three legs of the Abrahamic religions…
with the other two legs being that of Christianity and Judaism.
However our dear friend staunchly, and without hesitation, states that that thought
is absolutely not the truth.

Mohammed borrowed the Biblical characters such as Noah, Mary, and even Jesus,
in order to give credence to “his” religion.

And he denied that Jesus ever rose from the dead.

The good Bishop states that “Mohammed is nothing more than a dictator who demands submission.”
whereas Jesus Christ offers himself as a sacrifice.

Islam is not a cousin of our faith but on the contrary…runs counter to Christianity.

The troubling thing, however, is that we are today witnessing a global Chruch who wants to
appear friendly, accepting and even embracing of Islam.
Going so far as to inviting Muslim neighbors into a Chruch’s sanctuary in order to celebrate
the ending of Eid by covering up the crosses in order not to offend.

Is not covering the cross on the altar of the Chruch a turning of one’s back to Christ and all
He stands for in our faith?
Is that not a betrayal of convenience?

To follow Jesus means that we are not to be ashamed nor disassociate ourselves–ever.

Bishop Ashenden reminds us that we know more about Hell from Jesus than from anyone else Biblically.
He shares that Jesus was and is very specific about consequences…
So much so that He tells us that to deny Him, results in the opposite of Paradise…
it results in Hell.

Yet so many of us will argue that we are a polite society.
We don’t want to rock the boat.
We want to accommodate and be neighborly and friendly.

But to what extent?
At what cost?

Do we opt to turn a blind eye, ignoring public servants who speak positively about
egregious atrocities such as the Holocaust?

Do we rewrite God’s word so that His words now fit better into our current day and times?

Do we cover up and hide the key representative symbol of our faith,
thinking that others of differing faiths may find it offensive?

Evil is alive and well…yet no one likes to admit such let alone think about such.

Bishop Ashenden tells us that Christianity, and only Christianity, offers a defense against Evil.
Jesus cleanses the human heart of such Evil.
Yet the fingerprints of Satan are very much visible within and across the global collective Church.

Truth is being turned upside down as there is not enough regard for the truth in our
social culture.

And yet we are reminded…
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life…the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life…
(John 14:6)

Do not compromise.
Do not be ashamed.
Do not hide.
Do not deny.
Do not pretend.

being defined by the writing on the wall

“It is also a warning. It is a warning that, if nobody reads the writing on the wall,
man will be reduced to the state of the beast, whom he is shaming by his manners.”

Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth


(as seen on the blog Writing’s From The Raven’s Desk)

Yesterday I offered a post more or less from an observational standpoint.

I had read an email post by the Presbyterian Free Chruch Scottish Pastor David Robertson
on his take on the Episcopal Chruch of Australia versus the Scottish Episcopal Chruch.
An email posting that oddly was MIA from his blog.

Obviously, it’s an odd Juxtaposition but he’s on sabbatical in Australia and has spoken to
and with a good many Episcopal groups while traveling about.
He’s learning a thing or two about a splintering church.
It is becoming apparent that the writing is clearly on the wall.

Other’s have seen it.
Bishop Gavin Ashenden for one.
David has also seen the writing on the wall for the SEC back home in Dundee.

I saw the writing on the wall years ago here in the US.

Yet it was two comments I received yesterday from two different friends and sisters in
Christ that really brought all of this into focus.

It can be a most dismal story when one is sounding the clarion call…
That whole ‘woe to you’ clanging coming from the mouths of the likes of the Jeremiahs and Johns
amongst us…

The world is not receptive.

Nobody seems to like hearing, nor being reminded of, the seemingly negative and killjoy
mantra to “repent, the end is near” nonsense.

And yet is that not what we are actually seeing and hearing from those lone
voices out there?
Voices that the majority shun but voices we so desperately need to hear?

Voices like David’s and Gavin’s…
Men who are now being threatened, set apart and scorned…?

Both Kathy and Shara brought this point home with steely percision.

Firstly Kathy (atimetoshare.me) said:

Homosexuality, same-sex marriage, gender alteration,
believing only certain parts of the Bible are true,
looking at the ten commandments as the ten suggestions, chastity,
waiting until marriage to have sex, sex outside of marriage,
the sanctity of life on both ends of the spectrum, altering the Bible to fit the times,
not looking at sin as a problem – all parts of what’s going on in the church today.
We have taken tolerance to a whole new level and it has infiltrated our churches as
well as our lives.
The devil must be jumping for joy.
His insidious nature has weaseled its way into every aspect of society,
gnawing away at it bit by bit until it becomes unrecognizable.
I pray that the end is coming soon.

Then Shara (https://scasefamily.com/) polished it off with exquisite clarity:

Fascinating and sad…was reading yesterday that people say
Christianity is shrinking, but it’s actually being more clearly defined.
Interesting post friend!

And it has been that very fact that…the fact that we aren’t necessarily seeing
some sort of death knell for Christianity…
though denominations are beginning to morph into the unrecognizable as they depart
and fall from God’s word…
but rather we are seeing Christianity being polished and honed
a Christianity that is simply being refined and more sharply keenly defined…

The furnace is heating up as God works on the faithful, refining and preparing us for what
is to come…

“The glory of a good person is the evidence of a good conscience.
Have a good conscience and you will always be happy.
A good conscience can bear a great deal and still remain serene in the midst of adversity,
while a bad conscience is fearful and easily ruffled.
Only be glad when you have done well.
Evil persons are never really happy, nor do they feel peace within them;
for ‘there is no peace for the wicked, says the Lord’ (Isa. 48:22).
Even though the wicked may protest that peace is theirs and that no evil shall harm them,
do not believe them. For God’s wrath will suddenly overtake them,
and all they have done will be brought to nothing and their plans destroyed.”

Thomas á Kempis,
The Imitation of Christ p.76

putting words in one’s mouth…

“The word of the Eucharist makes us part of the great story of our salvation.
Our little stories are lifted up into God’s great story and there given
their unique place. The word lifts us up and makes us see that our daily,
ordinary lives are, in fact, sacred lives that play a necessary role
in the fulfillment of God’s promises.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen


(the most famous mouth—detail of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa)

God’s word….
We alter it to suit our purpose, our lives, our desires, our pursuits
our agendas, our lies…

We hear it, we read it, we change it…
then…
we claim it, we speak it and everyone believes it…

I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying,
‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’
How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies,
and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart,
who thinks to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Ba′al?…

Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words from one another.
Behold, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who use their tongues and say,
‘Says the Lord.’
Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord,
and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness,
when I did not send them or charge them; so they do not profit this people at all,
says the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:25-28,30-32

pandora’s box

“They gave Pandora a box. Prometheus begged her not to open it.
She opened it. Every evil to which human flesh is heir came out of it.

The last thing to come out of the box was hope.
It flew away.”

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


(an annoying pest moments before its demise / Julie Cook / 2017)

What have we become?

It was way back in 1989 when the world wide web, or more aptly known www., was
officially “created” by the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee,
an independent contractor working in Switzerland at the European Organization for
Nuclear Research…otherwise known as CERN.

It’s actually all quite above and beyond me really so I won’t even try to rehash any of it
or even attempt to explain it or its history except….
that I know that it was shortly after 1989 that one of those governing bodies
of all things science there at CERN proclaimed that access to and of the “web”
would be made available and free to the general populace….meaning you and me.

And life as you and I know it has never been the same.

And maybe that was the opening of pandora’s proverbial box.

Fast forward to 2017.

I am not a fatalist nor am I a henny penny the sky is falling doomsday sayer…
I’m also not one to put a whole lot of stock in prognosticators such as
the likes of a Nostradamus…
those soothsayers among us who carry the fatalistic signs proclaiming
that the end is near and we best all be ready…..

However that is not to say that I ever dismiss Christian mysticism…
I’ve lived long enough to know that I don’t know nearly as much as I often think I do.
I do believe in prophets.
I do believe in spiritual gifts.
and I also believe in spiritual curses…

I believe that there are those among us who tune in much better to God and His vast
and otherworldly Word than most of us average bears.
They hear and see and believe on a much deeper level than most of us are ever capable of
doing, possessing or going.

Theirs is a burdensome faith that most often comes with a heaviness that would suffocate
the average believer.
Carrying the weight of God’s very direct and personal words is not for the faint of heart.

Oh we’d all like to think we believe, we think we are faithful,
we think we step up to the plate when called…but trust me,
the majority of us fall much shorter than those few hearty inwardly seeing souls.

These certain individuals have been with us throughout the duration of time.
We know the ancient ones readily by name.
John
Jeremiah
Noah
Moses
Isaiah
Habakuk
Daniel
Simeon, etc…

on down to the very saints that today we so often reverently recall….
in places such as Fatima, Guadeloupe, Medjugorje, Lourdes
and even in the death camps of places like Auschwitz or in the Gulags buried deep
in Siberia.
Those select few have heard with a cutting clarity what the rest of us often naively
yearn for….but foolish mortals, you know not what you ask….

Most of us are not ready for such a sorrowful burdens of the Divine.
Think of the pieced heart of Mary…

And yet we must know that this mysticism of God is not far nor is it absent from our
modern-day lives despite many claiming quite the contrary.
Those frustrated among us who today proclaim we have no prophets,
no holy ones who see and call us to stop, look and listen–
No holy vocal polestars who point the rest of us in the right direction…

So what does Christian mysticism and the world wide web have to do with one another?
Well, not much really to the casual observer.
But to the more attuned…a great deal really….

Shortly after 1989 access to everything came to everyone with a frightening speed and
a deadly accuracy.
Now everyone had and still has the power.

The gift of technology was a boon but also a curse.

As it has begotten unto itself a wealth of spiraling accesses
of both new boons and endless curses.

It’s brought a connectivity to mankind that had never existed before.

Cell phones tying a crisscrossing virtual thread of global webs to the far flung edges
of civilization.
Internet at your fingertips anywhere, anytime….with anything you could imagine available
24/7 free of charge,
as our brains are now altered to seek out and be satisfied.

Twitter and its war of words with the tit for tat endlessness of anger and hatred…
Instagrams and its images galore be they good or be they bad….
Facebook and its sharing, bragging and constant underlying theme of human mayhem
Pintrest and its posting of the frustratingly fantastic
Snapchat and its humor of shenanigans
and so it goes…on and on, ad infinitum it begets and begets….

And what meaningful purpose does the majority of this all provide, offer or share
other than simply that, sharing…
with that sharing not always being a betterment for mankind kind of sharing….

And within all this dizzying wonderful and awful connectivity and sharing lies a
dark and sinister side…

Yet no one really wants to hear or acknowledge the darkness.
No one wants to see those who hold the signs proclaiming dangers or
that the end is near and are you ready….

For an unhealthiness has been bred deeply into mankind and it’s only boring deeper
and wider within.

Some now simply call the world flat…
Such as is the title of Thomas L Friedman’s 2005 book
The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.

But at what cost have we flattened our world and ourselves?

There is new research stating that the brain has actually been altered by this
obsessive and loving addiction to our technology and it is called brain hacking…
(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/brain-hacking-tech-insiders-60-minutes/)
as in people are actually working on programs to addict your brain to
the need to access…..

So with this gift of access came to us a great responsibility along with a great curse…
Such that the majority of us were or are not ready nor prepared to bear…
rather we have been swept up within the fracas of begetting…
while the din of a million voices now vie for our thoughts…

Have we lost our ability of hearing…
listening and being attuned to those mystics among us calling out the words
of our God as we stare, with the blinders attached to our heads, ever so intently at the
devices at our finger’s reach……

Lest we be wary to whom and to what we now listen and give our beings over to…..

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, until the time of the end.
Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined;
but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand;
but those who are wise shall understand
But go your way till the end; and you shall rest,
and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

Daniel 12: 4, 9, 13

Prophet of old

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

dscn1626
(cross on the grounds of Drumcliff Church / Co Sligo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used.
If the church in the second half of the twentieth century (an may we now add 21st) is to recover from the injuries
she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher.
The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do.
Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties,
takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to
make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. Another kind of religious leader must arise among us.

He must be of the old prophet type,
a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne.
When he comes (and I pray God there will not be one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction
to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear.
He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and
opposition of a large segment of Christendom.”

A.W.Tozer

prophetic spirit….

“I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me”
Jeremiah 33:8

09_1pr6a
(image of the prophet Jeremiah by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel)

Despite the distress of our time, we have lost touch with this prophetic spirit.
In fact, the inmost nature of prophecy has become an enigma to us.
We no longer grasp its primary source anymore.

Eberhard Arnold

Where are the voices…
those strong, confident and defiant voices that portend the fate of man?
Those ancient distant voices which proclaimed, declared, lamented, warned and foretold…
Those quixotic ones, from the days of old, whose words spoke of both power and truth …

In this oh so modernly smug time of man, believers are left to silently wonder,
as the non believer ridicules and scoffs.
Taunting the faithful while arrogantly puffing their chests.
For modern man has declared himself his own deity and god.

As Eberhard Arnold pragamatically observes, we have lost touch with that part
within ourselves which allowed us to hear those prophetic voices.
We have grown cold to our spiritual nature…
As we have distanced ourselves to the point of total disregard,
For that innate piece of the Divine that was once very attuned…
Allowing rather the void to be filled by our haughty sense of self.

Those voices however have never been silenced…
Never stopped or cut short over the windswept history of time…
they have not grown cold as the hard stones of earth…
but rather it is man who has grown cold, having lost his ability to hear them.
For man has turned a deaf ear to the apocalyptical.

Yet it is in that same breath of disheartened resignation that
Arnold offers us a bit of hope…

“The attitude is [still] possible only when a different heart beats within us,
different from that which has been in us so far, and when God’s spirit dwells in us,
as Ezekiel promises for these last days (Ezek.11:19).

If the earth is to be filled with the glory of God,
then the triune Spirit must fill and pervade the people who dwell on it.
Only when the Spirit gains influence over us, a sovereignty thus
far completely unknown,
can we expect the social and moral transformation that Mary sings about…”

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

The Magnificat
Luke 1:46-55

“Maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always”
Hosea 12:6

hard words

As fire is not extinguished by fire, so anger is not conquered by anger,
but is made even more inflamed.
But meekness often subdues even the most beastly enemies,
softens them and pacifies them.

Tikhon of Zadonsk

300px-tikhon_of_zadonsk
(icon image of St Tikhon of Zadonsk)

“It is a fearful thing to hate whom God has loved.
To look upon another–
his weaknesses, his sins, his faults, his defects–
is to look upon one who is suffering.
He is suffering from negative passions,
from the same sinful human corruption from which you yourself suffer.
This is very important:
do not look upon him with the judgmental eyes of comparison,
noting the sins you assume you would never commit.
Rather, see him as a fellow sufferer,
a fellow human being who is in need of the very healing of which you are in need.
Help him,
love him,
pray for him,
do unto him as you would have him do unto you.”

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

I caught this quote this morning while playing catch up reading over several blogs.
An Orthodox monk offered the quote and when I read that very first line,
its was if St. Tikhon reached out across space and time,
grabbing me by both shoulders while proceeding to shake me to consciousness.

“It is a fearful thing to hate whom God has loved….”

Whoa…
Ruminate over those words for a minute…letting them sink in…

“It is a fearful thing to hate whom God has loved…”

Not just that it is a fearful thing to hate, but he adds, whom God loves.
As in doubly significant…

It is an ominous observation that transcends time.

St. Tikhon was a Russian Monk who lived in a monastery in Zadonsk during the 18th century.
He is venerated as a saint within the Orthodox Church.
And his observational words are as timely today as they were in mid 1700’s Russia.

The wisdom of those who have trod the very earth of this planet prior to our own wanderings,
have much to offer those of us today struggling to manage our lives.

Have we as Christians not been told repeatedly that God loves each of us…
each last individual one of us???

All 7,465,271,925…of us
(click on the world population meter and this number will have grown considerably
by the time you are reading these words…
it is almost frightening how fast the counter rolls off number after number…
http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ )

Turn on any television,
read andy news feed,
watch any current banter, particularly in the US,
and you will see right fast that there is very little if any love roaming about
this great Nation of ours.

Yet St. Tikhon tells us that it is a fearful thing, as in bad…as in really really bad,
not to love those whom God loves.

And don’t we know, aren’t we told that God loves everyone…
Not just Christians…but Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, Muslims…

If you can name them, He loves them…
as well as those you can’t name.

Remember the words of the prophet…

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5

Let that sink in.

He knew you…as in you and you alone….
and He knew me and all those people now around us…

He even knows and loves those who you now hold with great disdain….

let that sink in…

For whom you hold with disdain,
for whom you loath,
for whom you distrust,
for whom you can’t stand,
for whom you claim to hate…

He, in turn, knows and loves.

And now remember the words of the saint…

Help them
Love them
Pray for them

And love them as He loves you….

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,
for it is written:
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:18-21