demanding

“He didn’t ask “Where will you spend eternity?”
as religious the-end-is-near picketers did but rather,
“With what, in this modern democracy,
will you meet the demands of your soul?”

Saul Bellow


(the ripening little peaches / Julie Cook / 2017)

God’s love is a demanding love…
this much we know….

And unfortunately we, as in you and me and all of us, are not very good with “demanding.”
We don’t listen nor we do we do what we’ve often been told to do…
this since the dawn of time.

An example you ask…?
Well we just have to look to the Israelites…

Folks just don’t wander around in a desert for 40 years because they’re
doing everything they’d been told to do…
wandering while looking and hoping to find one’s way usually means a wrong
turn was taken somewhere along the way and the recalculating voice has yet to reset….

For it just seems that in our heart of hearts we, me, you…simply aren’t up to the
demands of answering the call of this demanding Love.
We simply don’t, or perhaps it’s more apt to say we can’t, do “demanding” very well.
There’s just something about that rebellious nature of ours….

And since we’ve basically spent the history of time stumbling about lost to ourselves
while totally avoiding demanding Love…of which means we’ve not been very good at
offering said love outward….
well, it all sounds really quite hopeless actually….

And yet…

Yeshua, the Son of the Omnipotent Creator…
the very Creator of this very demanding Love,
came to this earth in order to live the very example of the oh so demanding Love…
demonstrating that it is hard, that it can be painful and that it is extremely costly but…
it can be done and when it is done…it is actually the gift of everlasting Love….

And he did all of this for you and for me and for all of us who are lost in our
rebellious ways….

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—–
though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood,
much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,
much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

Romans 5:6-11

prophetic spirit….

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

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(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

A storm is gathering…

You start out giving your hat, then you give your coat,
then your shirt,
then your skin and finally…
your soul.

Charles de Gaulle

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(the gathering storm on a southern summer’s night / Julie Cook / 2015)

Our prayers, once again, are offered up to our ally and friend…to the nation of France.
To the French people, especially the citizens of Nice, we offer our hearts in solidarity.

It is apparent that there is a war raging.
A war that is being waged and carried out by a hostile and ever morphing Islamic state.
A war that is apparently one-sided.

For you see, the Western World has yet to acknowledge it is being attacked, relentlessly.

Once upon a time…

In a different time and place…
there was a lone voice…
A lone voice that was relentless in sounding an alarm to the gathering storm clouds.

Yet no one wanted to listen.
No one wanted to hear the hard truth being offered by this lone voice…
And so the voice was ignored.

By the time the storm had come, raged and then passed…
Well over 60 million people had lost their lives.

It appears that today, we continue not to listen.

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Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

mishappen and now missing

Beware the politically obsessed.
They are often bright and interesting, but they have something missing in their natures;
there is a hole, an empty place, and they use politics to fill it up.
It leaves them somehow misshapen.

Peggy Noonan

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(something has been nibbling / Julie Cook / 2016)

I don’t know about you, but something seems to be not only a little misshapen, but now, totally missing….

A couple of weeks ago I bought a pretty healthy new little shrub, from the local nursery, in hopes of filling in a gap in one of the shrub beds.

I don’t know, but something doesn’t look right.
It looks shorter to me…
Less full…
lopsided…
depleted…
as in, something seems to be missing…

I had my suspicions.

Walking over the yard, to survey the crime scene, I found a couple of telling signs…
as in indicators as to perhaps the reason for the shrubs lack of vigor…

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(the telling signs of deer in the yard / Julie Cook / 2016)

Obviously there are visitors to my little corner of the world,
late at night,
when no one is watching.

All of which now has me wondering about the other things in life where I see things misshapen and oddly missing…

I wonder what it was that went missing in our hearts and minds to have turned us so far from God’s direction for our lives.

This desire we seem to now have to fill our cups to the brim with all things satiating as we have total disregard for Him, His word, His believers….forget God, it’s a free for all of self…

I wonder what it was that went missing from our leaders with regard to this
once great Nation Under God…
What of their charge to keep and protect that which is sacred to a Nation…
it’s nucleus, the family.

I wonder what it was that went missing when we decided it was ok for abortions to be used readily as a means of birth control…with total disregard to human life—which was once considered a miracle and a gift.
Now it’s a bother and a burden.

I wonder what went missing when we decided that the union of a man and a man or a woman and a woman was equally as good to that of a man and a woman.
No longer is life clearcut, but blurred and gray…
Leaving nothing but confusion in its wake for the future…

I wonder what went missing when we decided that we could throw caution to the wind as changing ones sex has become as simple as changing shoes.
You aren’t feeling very manly today?
No problem.
Try being a woman…
as we continue to lose ourselves to the current identity crises and delusion…

I wonder what went missing, which in turn has transformed us into sponges of all things tolerant…
while we readily forget and happily rewrite the consequences of actions and proclaim total acceptance in the name of all things happy. Who needs consequences, which gives way to the notion, who needs laws…
So then everything goes..keeping everybody happy…right??

I wonder what went missing which has made us so lazy and whiny as a people…as we scour for the easy way out and the getting everything for nothing… by hook or crook…as we’ve decide that however we get “it,” whatever we want the it to be, is ok just as long as we get it…

I wonder what went missing we we decided the Judaeo / Christian foundation of this country was now passé and obsolete….banning it’s laws, The Ten Commandments, from sight—maybe it’s an out of sight out of mind kind of thing…

And whereas it’s easy to walk through the yard to figure out what’s happening to the shrubbery, it’s not so easy walking through this current world of ours, figuring out what went wrong…since most folks don’t see anything wrong with us who are now terribly misshapen and even missing….

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness,
but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish,
but that all should reach repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

Beware the gators

“Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion”
Egyptian Proverb

Z-nmg4ohtaPTJzNtpVn_ABo5G7GItu8y
(image borrowed from web of a gator crossing an interstate near Naples, FL)

Maybe you’ve heard about them…
or
maybe you haven’t…

Interstate alligators…

And no, I’m not talking about actual alligators crossing the road as in the image above…
Rather I’m talking about something that is equally as dangerous and equally as deadly…
The only caveat is that it’s just not a living creature.

So now that your interest is piqued and you understand that we are not discussing reptiles…
I will explain what exactly an interstate alligator is all about.

An interstate alligator is the dubious moniker for the remnants of the shredded tires from tractor trailer trucks.

shredded_tire_roadside

More times than not, those big rigs, which are driving on very worn tires, will lose the most worn tires off their rigs to the rigors of constant wear and tear…all while driving on car infested roadways.
As they race up and down the highways, freeways and interstates across this grand country of ours, these worn steel belted tires will basically begin to disintegrate and shred while the truck is clocking 70 to 80 mph.

semi-tire-blowout
(image courtesy Real Truck Driver Blog)

Add to that the heat of summer, as the pavement reaches deadly hot temperatures…
With worn tires riding along an inferno of cement and asphalt, we’ve all got troubles!

Imagine huge chunks of tire being slung off a spinning rim, most often unbeknownst to the driver, as the driver isn’t about to be slowing down or moving over to the far right lane in order to exit or move to the emergency lane in order to stop…

Next imagine being the cars behind and beside these big truck as the tire is shredding.

Needless to say there have been many a damaged vehicle as there have been many a fatality as a result of these shredding tires.

The alligator part comes into play when the remnants of these tires are left where they fly then fall—that being the middle of lanes, along the shoulder of the road…just anywhere they finally lose the momentum of flight—as they now lay in wait, lurking and waiting for those poor unsuspecting drivers who are on top of them before being able to slow down or swerve safely out of the way while attempting not to ram into a fellow driver…

Today’s journey to Atlanta, on its infamous perimeter, was like navigating a backwater bayou at full speed while trying to dodge and miss a plethora of both big and small gators all before it being too late before an impending collision.

Cars were slamming on their brakes, erratically changing lanes, hoping the cars beside and behind could get stopped in time.

Holding on for dear life as I made my way through the cement minefield,
I smelled it before I saw it as the air was rife with the acrid smell of burning rubber.
Dodging debris big and small, I soon road past the culprit. A big rig’s second to the back tire was disintegrating faster than he could move over and slow down.
Tire was slinging left and right as cars did their darnedest to dodge the deadly shrapnel.

As I miraculously made my way past the truck and the sea of tire parts without being hit, without running over anything and without being hit by my fellow dodging drivers, I was struck (not literally thank God) by the sheer magnitude of how things can change in one’s life from good to disastrous in literally the blink of an eye.
A ‘now you don’t see it, yet now you suddenly do’ sort of life’s scenario..

Yet we don’t much like thinking of life in that regard.

We don’t like to dwell on the possible and potential negatives of life…
those ‘could be’s’ or those ‘what if’s’ in life…
but what of the sudden and sheer catastrophic…??

We don’t want to live life constantly fretting and worrying.

Yet we do need to always be ready…
Ready for those very instantaneous what if’s.

As in…what if I’m taken out by this interstate monster right here, right now—am I ready for that?
Am I ready if my life is snuffed out just like that?

There’s no time to think,
No time to suddenly and quickly introduce yourself to a God you’ve just kind of always kept in the back of your head…
Kind of like a Santa Claus—
calling on Him in a pinch or when you really need or want something….

This isn’t like the “oh please God don’t let me get caught by that red light again” sort of thing…
Rather this is…there’s a big black chunk of rubber and steal, that’s just come up out of nowhere, hurdling through both time and space with lightning speed right for your windshield and face sort of thing, leaving you nowhere to turn, nowhere to run, leaving you nowhere to duck and cover….

Your relationship with God cannot wait.
It’s that dire, that urgent.

Not because you need to be saved from flying projectiles or hungry debris alligators who are lurking and waiting for when you lest expect it…but because time will not always afford you the luxury of waiting, pondering and deciding, if you want your soul to be lost or to be found…

There is true comfort in knowing that no matter what happens in this life…no matter the dangerous and deadly perils that await us…the catastrophes, the accidents, the random horrible things …
that in and through it all…God is yours and you are His…forever and ever…Amen!!

May you travel in safety my friends…

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

there must be something in the water…

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”

― Norman Maclean,

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(a thriving viola / Julie Cook / 2016)

Somedays we write our posts laced with happiness and smiles,
As other days we find our posts derived from the midsts of infectious laughter.

Some posts are written when deep in thought…
While others are written briefly, gliding across the screen…
with the lightness of a feather,
caught innocently on a Spring morning’s breeze.

There are reflective posts written as mirrors of the times…
While others are written in anticipation of our promised tomorrows.
As still there are those posts written forlornly…
remembering all that has ever been…

Some days posts are written through eyes filled with tears,
with tear streaked cheeks and the ache of breaking hearts.

They are written through the frustration of helplessness…
and at times, through the desperation of hopelessness….

Some days they are written selfishly for ourselves…
While other days they are written without our conscious knowledge,
only intended for those “others” out there in need…

Today is no different…

A post is composed.

Today it comes from the heaviness of a battered heart.
The tears have somewhat dried,
yet the wet streaked tracks remain etched on cheeks hiding a set jaw of clenched teeth.

A call, a text, is often all it takes to change the day.
As ongoing battles loom out of reach and out of control.

The story is the same, merely growing longer.
Harder to smooth out.

Lives long gone are keenly missed as their empty presence cuts through both space and time…
Their losses suddenly feeling as fresh today as they did so very long ago..
like a searing knife falling through cold butter.
Effortlessly the hurt floods back.

Having been left alone to deal with it all seems, today, almost monumental.
Resentment for all that was comes crashing to the forefront.

Choices made, always the choices made, effect more than ourselves,
Yet at the time, who thinks of others or future others affected?
Our choices are selfishly seen as our own…

Born a fixer,
I fix things.
It’s what I do.
Yet as life will always have its way,
we each quickly discover that fixing is not always possible…

So we, the fixer and the observers, are relegated to helplessly and hopelessly watching…

Expendable is what we quickly become when the lost look to holding on to what they have.
Desperation and panic trumps rationality and ties that bind.

It’s like the song that gets stuck in one’s head.
Over and over it plays, seemingly without any end.
Never seeming able to string all of the verses together…
in order for it to end.

And just when you think you are broken, be it for the day or for life,
dropped to your knees with the tears freely flowing,
A word, maybe two, maybe several…suddenly surface from somewhere deep within your head…

“couldn’t fight back the tears so I fell on my knees…
Saying, “God if you’re there, come and rescue me….”

“Something In The Water”
By Carrie Underwood

He said, “I’ve been where you’ve been before.
Down every hallway’s a slamming door.
No way out, no one to come and save me.
Wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me.

Then somebody said what I’m saying to you,
Opened my eyes and told me the truth.”
They said, “Just a little faith, it’ll all get better.”
So I followed that preacher man down to the river and now I’m changed
And now I’m stronger

There must’ve been something in the water
Oh, there must’ve been something in the water

Well, I heard what he said and I went on my way
Didn’t think about it for a couple of days
Then it hit me like a lightning late one night
I was all out of hope and all out of fight

Couldn’t fight back the tears so I fell on my knees
Saying, “God, if you’re there come and rescue me.”
Felt love pouring down from above
Got washed in the water, washed in the blood and now I’m changed
And now I’m stronger

There must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water

And now I’m singing along to amazing grace
Can’t nobody wipe this smile off my face
Got joy in my heart, angels on my side
Thank God almighty, I saw the light
Gonna look ahead, no turning back
Live every day, give it all that I have
Trust in someone bigger than me
Ever since the day that I believed I am changed
And now I’m stronger

There must be something in the water (amazing grace)
Oh, there must be something in the water (how sweet the sound)
Oh, there must be something in the water (that saved a wretch)
Oh, there must be something in the water (like me)
Oh, yeah

I am changed (I once was lost)
Stronger (but now I’m found)
(was blind but now I see)

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(Carrie Underwood, The Grand Ole Opry / Julie Cook / 2015)

Motivation

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
Fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Proverbs 1:7

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(Red Spotted Purple Butterfly and Blueberry blossoms / Julie Cook / 2016)

What is your motivation?
Your self help…
Your comfort…
Your reason to continue…

Family?
Friends?
Country?
Career?
Home?
Future?

Maybe faith…?

When you are lost, do you seek…
Guidance?
Books?
Speakers?
Music?
Entertainment?

Perhaps you pray…

When stripped away of everything…
When all that made you…you….is abruptly taken away
When you stand alone, vulnerable and lost…
What propels you forward?

Need?
Hunger?
Fear?
Hope?

Or is it a yearning for something…
Someone greater than yourself…?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

Psalm 34:17-20