altars

“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator
as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.”

Augustine of Hippo

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(altar tomb in the Rock of Cashel, the Cathedral of St Patrick / Co Tipperary, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

A thick blanket of smoke hangs heavy in the air.
It’s not the result of burning effigies or burning communities
but rather from the woods of North Carolina and northern Georgia which are on fire…
and the winds have shifted…

The sinking grey smoke is a somber reminder that there is a dangerously severe drought…
and the parched land is now beyond thirsty…

Yet there is more to this current drought than simply a lack of rain…
for there is more that is dry than mere vegetation and brush…
And there is more to this endless thirst than a need for water….

Vehemence and anger are filling the air, accented by vile and profane sentiment.
As the mobs march toward the altars of self indulgence and guile.
Immaturity laced with ignorance stokes the fires of rage as the hate filled
smoke fills the nostrils of a nation.

Self absorption and egocentric worshipers have taken to the streets.
They have taken to their computers and to their phones…their current altars of choice.
All the while they shout vile rhetoric as they stomp their spoiled bored feet.

If you must…
Protest against atrocities,
demonstrate against hunger,
fight against killing…
but not because you’ve simply forgotten, or have never known, how to lose.

Young dismayed parents now publicly lament how are they to console their
confused children who cry in fear from the big bad what ifs of hysteria…
simply because democracy has been at work–once again…

Nay, answer with truth…
the truth that one person lost while another person won…
For that is how this game is played…one person wins while one person loses…

Yet ours is a culture currently obsessed with the win win…
because we’ve grown moralistically soft while deciding everyone should be a winner…
We cannot live with the sad notion of losing…
Never mind old adages of always trying again…

There are those who are falling at the altar of womanly feminism…
which is currently shored up by gender neutrality, resentment and anger.
Marching not for policy or real equality but rather for the notion that
the wrong sex was the victor…as the votes which were cast are ignored….

Tears are being shed not because freedom has been lost
or because lives have been lost,
nor because a nation has lost all hope…
No…
rather tears are flowing because an election was lost…

And now we no longer want to play…
Because reality is simply no longer considered fun.
While we have found ourselves kneeling before all the wrong altars…

Ours are the empty altars of hero worship and of self…
the altars of gadgetry, boredom, appeasement and ignorance.
Altars of fear, anger, hostility, emptiness and divisiveness…

For what or whom has become our idol, our god?
Who or what are those hungry deities which have left us empty, sad,
frustrated, angry and resentful…
as we turn upon one another in the feeding frenzy of resentment?

We have gathered before all the wrong altars for far too long…
These altars have left us shallow and empty while also full of loathing and contempt…
We continue to march without leadership and direction…
lost and wandering…all the while lashing out at those we assume to be our enemy…
never realizing that we are all actually one.
One people…one nation…

And all the while hidden deep within the suffocating smoke of our thirst
lies the only One true proven path in which we need march…

Yet we have decided it’s far easier to wander angrily in the parched darkness
while hiding behind the vitriol sputum which oozes forth from our mouths…
spewing out upon our fellow human beings…

As it seems we’d rather choose…
paranoia to Grace
greed to Offering
ignorane to Enlightenment
darkness to Light
death to Salvation
egregiousness to Gentleness
hate to Love…

May we all fall at the foot of the one true altar,
the cross of Resurrection, Salvation, Hope and Life.

The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son,
whom he gave to us and who was born for us,
should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross.
This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made,
but for our sins.

Francis of Assisi

Consistencies

Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties.
Charlotte Bronte

Part of courage is simple consistency.
Peggy Noonan

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”
― John Wesley

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(worn weary cross, Sligo Abbey / County Sligo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

As much as we…
try
arrange
rearrange
plot and plan
inconsistencies will forever be a constant.
For there is nothing in our lives that will remain without glitch, hiccup, accident, or
bedevilment

Not family
Not friends
Not health
Not government
Not weather
Not land
Not sea
Not sky

The only consistent aspect of our lives is our relationship with God
Void of any and all inconsistencies…
He alone is the only one true constant any of us will ever know…
Forever was
Forever is
Forever will be…

And so He comes….

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
1 Colossians 1:15-17

King of the kingdom

The Lord gave the wonderful promise of the free use of His Name with the Father in conjunction with doing His works. The disciple who lives only for Jesus’ work and Kingdom, for His will and honor, will be given the power to appropriate the promise. Anyone grasping the promise only when he wants something very special for himself will be disappointed, because he is making Jesus the servant of his own comfort. But whoever wants to pray the effective prayer of faith because he needs it for the work of the Master will learn it, because he has made himself the servant of his Lord’s interests.”
― Andrew Murray

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(a small bug perched atop the bud of a snapdragon, surveying his kingdom / Julie Cook / 2015)

Who is the servant of your comfort?
Who do you seek when tasked with fulfilling your desires?
What prayer do you pray for your satisfaction?
What is the litany recited for your wants?
Whom do you seek as the king of your kingdom?

What is the name you call when in need?
Who are your followers, your disciples?
To whom do you pay homage?
Do you know the way of the effective prayer?
Who is the Lord of your interests?

What land do you survey and call your own?
To what promises do you cling?
Who’s work is it that you carry out?
From whence comes your salvation?
Whom do you call upon as your kingdom crumbles?

To one and only one is power given.
To one and only one is honor paid.
To one and only one is the title Master granted.
There is one and only one who offers you His hand.
The one true King calls you to His Kingdom.
Will you finally heed His call?

A consuming light

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

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(rain clouds linger in the late afternoon mid west Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2014

Our days grow dark and worry abounds
When a deafening crescendo of exploding bombs breaks the tired silence
Wary souls now tremble in the shadows

As the planes fall strangely from the sky,
We know that Madness wanders the eroding land
Bleeding children lie stretched out in pleading arms,

Lessons learned long ago are easily now forgotten
We were warned but no one listened
Right and wrong collide madly into one. . .
Hell is happy here today.

20 lives
200 lives
300 lives
Each new day brings a sad new number
As the question begs–why?

We watch
We wait
We plead
We hope

And as we wonder when is enough enough,
with the last ray of faith growing helplessly dim,
a brilliant light victoriously pierces the blackened sky

As the battles wage onward across a sad weary land,
and with smoke circling like vultures over our trembling heads,
Courage and Strength rally the faithful few

For despite this unending march of Death,
as tears are shed and blood is spilled
Peace and Calm unite in Hope
for this bloody War is already won. . .

This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Isaiah 42:5-7