speaking of signs

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying,
This is my Son, my chosen: hear ye him.

Luke 9:35


(Bible tract found tucked in the handle of my car door / Julie Cook / 2019)

So yesterday I made mention of two little rural church signs I saw during my recent back and forth travels.
Two little signs that opened both my heart and mind…more or less, reawakening my senses.

Another little sign made its way to me again yesterday morning.

Having not been home for any length of time over the past three weeks, a most needed grocery run
was greatly in order and the first thing on the day’s docket.

Nearly 45 minutes later, the bagger gal, who insisted on pushing my overflowing cart out to my car,
emptied the cart into my car as I finally made my way to back to the driver’s door.
Nestled in between the handle and car was a small piece of folded paper.

Upon further inspection, the paper folded up under my car’s door handle was actually a Bible tract.

It’s always a mystery to me how these things materialize.
I leave the car, buy some groceries, then poof, God’s word winds up tucked into my
car’s door handle.

The title: This Is My Beloved Son In Whom I Am Well Pleased…
Hear Ye Him!

Hear Ye Him…

I pondered that line.

It sounded archaic…perhaps King James.

However, upon a further later investigation of the line, which is from the Book of Luke,
it turns out that the version is actually from the American Standard Bible.

And so I pondered deeper…

Most versions read “Listen to Him” versus this version of “Hear Ye Him”

Hear versus Listen…the ‘ye’ bit I get— meaning you there…
but it was the balance of hear vs listen that had me ruminating.

Aren’t they the same?
Don’t both words mean the same?

Words and their meanings have always intrigued me.

According to Merriam Webster,
Hear: transitive verb
to perceive or become aware of by the ear
to gain knowledge of by hearing
to listen to with attention
transitive verb
to have the capacity of perceiving sound
to gain information
to receive communication

Listen: transitive verb
to give ear to

intransitive verb
to pay attention to sound
to hear something with thoughtful attention: give consideration
to be alert to catch an expected sound

So yes, I see that there is a difference between the two words…to hear vs to listen.

Firstly, to hear seems active whereas to listen appears more passive.

God is wanting us to perceive, to become aware of, to gain.
He also wants us to pay attention, to give consideration to and to be alert…
as well as to passively receive.

He wants us to lend our ear…but the question we must ask ourselves is to lend it for what?

We must be open in order to actually hear.
We must be wanting and willing.

We can hear something but are we truly hearing it?
Is it like white noise in the background or is it received into the cognizant part of
our brain for the processing of what it really is?

Seems more signs just keep coming my way…

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
John 4:48

Living in the shadowlands, of course God wins….and I won’t keep silent…

We live in the Shadowlands.
David Robertson


(Scottish Pastor David Robertson of The Wee Flea fame)

I don’t think David will mind, but I’d like to share an overview from a recent post
offered from his Wee Flea blog…

Well, it’s actually a revisiting of sorts…an offering of a re-visit to an older post offered
when recently posting a video for SOLAS (Solas Centre for Public Christianity based in Scotland)
answering the question “Where is God When It Hurts?”

It’s been about 5 years since I started this little blog of mine and in turn,
it’s been just a few short years now that I “found” David Roberston.
When I started following David’s blog, The Wee Flea.

I can’t actually remember how I found David or his blog, but I think it most likely came
from one of the ‘random’ Word Press crossmatching of like-minded words picked out from
one of my posts.
Of which probably had something to do with Evolution vs Creationism since David wrote the
popular book refuting Richard Dawkin’s and his atheistic approach to evolution with the book
The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths

Curious I obviously clicked, read, liked and followed…and I’ve never looked back.

A born and bred Episcopalian /Anglican who sounds the praises of a Scottish Free Chruch Presbyterian.

Given the fact that I often share what I glean from David’s writings,
it might seem a bit odd that I would offer a disclaimer before sharing again…
but this posting of David’s is very personal.
It’s a story that I did not know and it is a powerful testimony to life, death, and faith.

So I’ve decided that this post is really going to be a Part 1.
In part, because David’s words reminded me of something I needed to do…
something I need to ask all of you…but my asking will wait…it will be Part 2…
but it is about a concentrated time for a joint prayer

But for now, we will concentrate on
Shadowlands…

David stated that we are living in the Shadowlands.

One of my all-time favorite movies is Shadowlands…the 1993 movie starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as
C.S. Lewis and his relationship with American poet Joy Davidman (played by Debra Winger)—
a story about their friendship, eventual marriage of convenience, a belated courtship, a budding love
all of which was crushed by her untimely death from cancer…
all of which sent Lewis on a spiral of faith.

Shadowlands…according to Merriam Webster, “the realm peopled by shadows or submerged in shadow:
such as
a : the abode of spirits or phantoms”

A place that rests between dark and light.
The place we, the children of God, currently live…
a place in between both Heaven and Hell.

A place our friend the Wee Flea journeyed through more closely than most…

In a post offered on January 1, 2015, David shared the story of a major health scare
suffered in 2011.

His story began a bit backward…he was sitting in an airport preparing to fly to
Kuala Lumpur, then off to Australia.
He recalled the lost Air Asia flight lost in the waters off the coast of Malaysia–
a thought that reminded him of his fear of flying.

A fear of both life and death…a fear most of us share.

David’s thoughts raced to another time, a time when he was attending a conference in the
northern British town of Thurso. A time when a scientist attending the same conference told
David, just before David was to deliver a talk, that he did not believe in God…in part
because he had never met a person who was ever healed by prayer.

David relates that when that statement was uttered, he actually tore up his prewritten speech
and decided to share his own true life to death story.

I’ve linked the full post at the bottom of this post…

David’s tale begins one October in 2011 just following a wedding he had officiated.
Following the wedding, he was not feeling particularly well so he asked his
wife to drive him home.
Yet annoyingly his son had realized he’d left his phone back at the church so….
they turned around and went back to the church.
David, upon getting out of the car, suddenly collapsed in a pool of blood.

It was later discovered that David had two bleeding ulcers with one right over a major artery.
In other words, David was quickly bleeding out.

By Divine Providence, having returned back to the Chruch had placed David right near the hospital.
Had this happened by the time they’d gotten home…David would have bled out and died.

His tale is lengthy as it is a harrowing time of balancing a tight rope between both life and death.

Several times the doctors told his wife that David may or may not make it…
with a disclaimer that if he did survive, he might be severely brain damaged or permanently
physically impaired.
He had but a 50 / 50 chance of survival.
50% chance to live or 50% chance to die—
Ottimista vs Pessimista

He was in a medically induced coma.
He incurred e-coli of the lungs.
He incurred a deadly strain of pneumonia.
In an attempt to protect the brain from extreme blood loss, David was given heavy psychotic drugs.
He was delusional.
He often trudged through the dark night of the soul,
days where he found himself unable to pray.
Each time they thought a ray of light was beginning to shine, David’s health fell drastically backward.

Things did not look good for David’s survival.

And so David shares that his church sent out a request…

The Free Church clerk of Assembly then sent out this e-mail to all our churches –
In the light of the most recent posts regarding the serious and worsening physical condition
of Rev. David Robertson, a request has been made that the whole church pray earnestly to God
on David’s behalf at the same time on this coming Lord’s Day at 10.30am or 12 noon
(this would embrace churches that start at 10.30am, 11am and at 12 noon).
Along with him being a family man, our brother in Christ and a loyal servant of the Free Church,
we also appreciate the intense role he has been fulfilling as an effective defender of the
Christian faith in our secular society.
Please pray for David, for his healing,
his family and his church.
Pray that God will be glorified in and through this dark experience that
we are facing as a church.

The churches responded.

You can call it coincidence.
But from that weekend on I began to get better.
How one interprets that will depends on your pre-suppositions.
The non-theist will just simply state it was the doctors and the science
(perhaps with a bit of luck) which healed you.
At least some of the professionals involved disagree.
After getting out of hospital when I phoned my surgeon [*a Muslim]
to ask him if he would be willing to come to a thanksgiving service,
his wife said ‘of course’.
I told her that she had made my day because her husband had saved my life.
Her reply?
“That’s not what he says.
He says there was nothing he could do and that it was God who intervened”.

One of the major problems that so many people have,
Christians and non-Christians alike, is that they do not grasp what faith is.
I’m sure there are people who think my story is that I, or others,
had enough faith and therefore God rewarded that and healed me.
X hours of prayer equals Y healings.
That is not how the God of the Bible works.
And that is not faith. It’s also why prayer is not open to laboratory experiments.

The best example of what real biblical faith is came from my son, Andrew.
One day he came home from the hospital and wrote the following Facebook post:
An update on Dad:
There hasn’t been much said in the past few days because things haven’t been going well.
His sedation was increased on Sunday and they’ve had him asleep since then.
The damage to his lungs is still severe and today mum was told by the doctors that it’s 50/50
whether he’ll live or die.
I write this with great anguish and a heavy heart but not without hope.
There is still a hope that he’ll make it through this,
but there is a better hope he has and we have. A hope that does not waver and is 100% certain.
That is the hope of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.
Jesus has already removed Dad’s biggest problem,
it’s not the deterioration of his lungs but something more deadly… his sin.
Christ has saved him from that. Tomorrow I go down with Becky to Dundee,
knowing that this may be the last time I see my Dad…
till Christ returns and “everything sad is made untrue.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

At the Thurso conference mentioned above I finished off my story by telling them of my son’s words.
The scientist responded “but that’s not fair.
If God heals you that is an answer to prayer and if he did not heal you that is an answer too.
That means God wins every time”.
He was so right.
Of course God wins.

Before I knew it in my mind, now I KNOW it in my heart.

David continues about his life and his mission following this brush with death…
The Word of God is my meat, drink and medicine.
That by the way is why I am so strong in defending it –
especially from those Christians who thinking that they are making it more palatable,
water it down and distort it, in order to ‘reach’ the modern generation.
No. Just as I fight the ‘traditionalists’ who want to imprison Christ in an idealised box of
their own making, so I will fight to the end those who distort the Word of God and thus
take away from the beauty and glory of Christ.
Whether it is ‘conservatives’ adding to the Word of God, or ‘liberals’ taking away from it,
to me makes no difference. They are both poisoners of the pure word.
And I plead with the Lord that he will never allow me to use deception or distort the Word of God.

I am also determined to continue my battle against the increasing secularisation of our society.
Not because the secularists attack the Word of God and mock Jesus –
what else can you expect non-believers to do? ‘Liberal’ Christians damage the Word of God.
Atheist and secularist philosophies damage those made in the image of God – all human beings.
As GK Chesterton pointed out, once you cease to believe in God, you also cease to believe in humanity.
I am a committed anti-fascist, anti-totalitarian and I believe that no matter the ‘nice’ words said,
if our society moves away from its traditional Christian roots,
then we will end up with an increasingly illiberal, confused and authoritarian society.
I won’t keep silent.

Please read the full harrowing and triumphant tale here:

https://theweeflea.com/2015/01/01/the-shelter-of-the-most-high-new-year-old-hope-a-personal-testimony/

Tomorrow I will offer Part 2—my part..the part that David’s story proved to be an
exclamation point reminding me of something most important we need to be doing.

Divine Mercy

“Great love can change small things into great ones,
and it is only love which lends value to our actions.
And the purer our love becomes, the less there will be within us for the flames
of suffering to feed upon, and the suffering will cease to be a suffering for us;
it will become a delight! By the grace of God,
I have received such a disposition of heart that I am never so happy as when I suffer for Jesus,
whom I love with every beat of my heart.”

(303, page 140) St Faustina


(the chives are blooming / Julie Cook / 2018)

Yesterday, and this week actually, marked the day of Divine Mercy for our Catholic
brothers and sisters.
A timely marking given our continued celebration with Easter and the
most notable and tangible gift of our Salvation…

According to Wikipedia…
The Divine Mercy of Jesus, also known as the Divine Mercy, is a Roman Catholic devotion
to Jesus Christ associated with the reputed apparitions of Jesus revealed
to Saint Faustina Kowalska.
The Roman Catholic devotion and venerated image under this Christological title refers
to the unlimited merciful love of God towards all people

The primary focus of the Divine Mercy devotion is the merciful love of God and
the desire to let that love and mercy flow through one’s own heart towards those in need of it.
As he dedicated the Shrine of Divine Mercy, Pope John Paul II referred to this when he said:
“Apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind”.

For a woman whose writings were once banned by the Vatican, the fact that the Catholic world
now recognizes this Polish nun is really quite amazing.

“Twenty-five years ago, her writings were banned by the Vatican and her legacy —
a special devotion to the divine mercy of God — seemed in doubt.

Today she is a saint,
her diary has been translated into more than a dozen languages and her Divine Mercy movement
has attracted millions of Catholics around the world.”

Catholic News Service

For a more in-depth look into St Faustina Kowalska…here is a link:
https://cssfinternational.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/backstory-st-faustina-and-the-divine-mercy-devotion-cns-top-stories/

According to Merriam Webster–Divine is defined as of, from, or like God or a god
Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone
whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm

Put the two together and we have Compassion and/ or forgiveness,
shown by God who actually has the power to
punish or harm if so desired…and yet, He desires Compassion and forgiveness…
the same compassion and forgiveness afforded to each of us on Easter
as witnessed through His resurrected Son…

Now, this is not to be some sort of theological debate about our Catholic,
a word that also means Universal, brothers, and sisters in Christ.
Nor is this a debate about saints or the notion of God playing judge, jury and
executioner…this is about the call for all Christians to come together and remember the gift
we’ve each been given and as a Divine gift, it is in turn to be extended to others…

Divine Mercy…may we each pass it on…

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

authority, fear, respect…

“Power is a poison well known for thousands of years.
If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others!
But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us,
and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal.
For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison.
For them there is no antidote.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(two cousins vying for the same spot / Julie Cook / 2017)

There is a sequence of events taking place within these images…
And believe it or not,
it has everything do with authority, respect and fear and the presumption of each.

First we should note that there is a giant dog’s bed that has been placed
in an otherwise dog free bedroom.

A cushy enough looking bed that cousin Alice sleeps on at night.

In the first image we see cousin Percy taking a look at
85 pound cousin Alice resting on the floor and not in her bed…
as a million questions now race through cousin Percy’s thoughts.

Next, cousin Percy looks to see if anyone else has noticed this anomaly.
A bed but the owner of said bed is opting not to use it, instead preferring the floor….
Hummmmmm…

In the next image we see that cousin Alice is nowhere to be seen and that cousin Percy,
deducing that the coast is clear, has decided to try out the bed.
Not that cousin Percy doesn’t have real beds at his disposal or closet shelves or
couches or anywhere in the house that he wants…but it is this visiting bed,
belonging to cousin Alice, that seems most appealing.

Lastly we see cousin Percy sound asleep.
Happy and content.
Cousin Alice’s favorite toy, the Yoda chew doll, sits on the floor right in front of a sleeping
cousin Percy and what we don’t see is cousin Alice, who is just out of camera shot, and who
is afraid to come in the room to get either favorite said chew toy Yoda let alone
get on her bed lest she wake the sleeping giant….

So here we have a small example of what authority is all about and what it means to
have respect… or in this case, a bit of fear of and for said authority.
And of course, there are all sorts of side lessons in all of this but let’s just consider the
concept of authority for now.

Authority is defined by Merriam Webster as:
a power to influence or command thought, opinion,
or behavior…as in the president’s authority.
b : freedom granted by one in authority: right..
as in Who gave you the authority to do as you wish?

2 a : persons in command; specifically : government…
as in the local authorities of each state
b : a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing
public enterprise…as in the transit authority or the city’s housing authority

3 a : grounds, warrant…as in had excellent authority for believing the claim
b : convincing force…as in lent authority to the performance

We should note that throughout history, humankind has been expected to have respect
for authority…
And we might note that throughout this history of humankind,
that such words as ‘respect’ and ‘fear’ have been used interchangeably…
with fear not necessarily meaning cowering like a mouse but rather
being full of overwhelming awe….

Example being that some biblical translations use the word “fear of the Lord,
while a more accurate translation would be “respect for the Lord”…
but we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

This business of authority, as well as that of having respect for said authority,
got its start with that whole creating of man and woman…as in Adam and Eve…

Adam, the first man, was to have respect for the authority of God, the only Creator.
The very God who gathered up dust, ash and mud and breathed life into it all,
creating Adam.
Next, God the Father knew that Adam would need a helpmate,
so borrowing that now famous rib, Eve came along.
Eve would now in turn have respect for the authority of both God and Adam…

Have you noticed that a little sequence of authority and respect is beginning to form?
The building blocks of authority and respect.

Next with Adam and Even having dominion over all of the animals, fish and birds…
they, these creatures of the earth, in turn then fell under authority of the God
followed by man and woman…

And we should note that any offspring of Adam and Eve, as they were the first,
then said offspring would therefore also have dominion over the animals, birds and fish….
And on and on it was to flow.

Add to all of this the lynchpin of respect.
Respect for and of one for another…
The tie that binds it all up.
A perfect scenario.

Yet unfortunately the chain of authority and respect fell into disrepair with that
first bite of an apple…
For you see God afforded this man and this woman the gift of free will.
And here is the kicker…..
they were not slaves who were to be forced under authority….
they were to come under authority freely and willingly…because within that
authority was the most perfect expression of Love.

And oh how perfect it all could have been…..

And as we now see, looking back over the annals of time, history has shown us that not
all authority since the fall has been kind nor benevolent.
Because in that fall from grace, free will gave way to poor choices..
choices that have been more selfish rather than selfless..
choices that have held very little regard for the dignity of person upon person.

With all of this business harkening back to that original initial sin and disobedience…
of which in turn begat pride, envy, jealousy, selfishness, arrogance, cruelty, disrespect…
ad infinitum…

Yet just because we know that there have been those who have abused their authority
over others, and that there have been times that said authority had to be eliminated
or even rebelled against, the overall notion that a civil society has a chain of authority
which is a lynchpin to living…has been the glue that has held the precariousness of man
together.

And thus we see cousin Percy exerting his authority as kingpin of the home over his
visiting cousin Alice by deciding that what is hers should actually be his…
or at least for a little while.

And on the flip side we have cousin Alice, who despite her sheer size and body strength,
who could eat cousin Percy in one maybe two bites…defers to this pint size king
out of an overwhelming sense of awe, fear and respect….

Hence….
authority, fear and respect in a nutshell….

“Don’t be scared by the word authority.
Believing things on authority only means believing them because you’ve been told them
by someone you think trustworthy.
Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.
I believe there is such a place as New York.
I haven’t seen it myself.
I couldn’t prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place.
I believe it because reliable people have told me so.
The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution,
and the circulation of the blood on authority—
because the scientists say so.
Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority.
None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada.
None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics.
We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us
about them: in fact, on authority.
A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion
would have to be content to know nothing all his life.”

C.S. Lewis