disrespect found in a den of iniquity

Discourtesy does not spring merely from one bad quality,
but from several–from foolish vanity, from ignorance of what is due to others,
from indolence, from stupidity, from distraction of thought,
from contempt of others, from jealousy.

Jean De La Bruyere

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(the 2017 Jeopardy college championship, with our little friend from Stanford on the far right)

Disrespect….

I’m pretty certain that I’ve rambled on about this little topic before…
and here I am finding myself, once again, addressing the whole
notion of respect vs disrespect, morality vs immorality…
as I caught a little story in the news this morning that has left me troubled…

And it seems as if the story centers on, of all things, the college
championship competition on Jeopardy…
as if sadly, nothing is currently off limits…
particularly when it comes to this notion of respect…
even the benign bastion of all things related to trivia being apparently fair game…

Disrespect, which actually walks hand in hand with it’s first cousin immorality,
as in each are the mirror effect of respect and morality,
are two negative human traits that if left unchecked, unaddressed….
two actions that left either ignored or simply tolerated,
are two of the key undoings of any society.

For disrespect, and its cousin immorality, lead directly to the erosion of civility.
The erosion of civility, in turn, is the undermining of any civilization…
all of which leads directly to anarchy.

Throughout much of the history of humankind, it has been the youthful ones
who have had the most trouble with these two notions…
that of both respect and morality.

There is a time in all growing up when these two choices, or perhaps more aptly put,
decisions in behavior, come powerfully and dangerously into, well, jeopardy.
Be it testing the waters with a devil may care lifestyle,
the growing pains found in a struggle for independence or simply part and parcel
of growing up… that time period between late adolescence and early adulthood
is a murky pool swarming with defiance, emotional roller coasters and lots of
poor choices…

In times past, society had done well to nurture its angst filled youth through these
troubling waters…
today however, we are witnessing a dangerous anomaly taking place on
college campuses all across the country….
An enabling of the molly coddling coupled by a dangerous ideology of a liberal manifesto
found not in what was once considered to be the bulwarks of higher education but rather
now found in places that are considered nothing more then dens of iniquity.

Society now not only tolerates the anger filled intolerance of the self-centered youth,
it is embracing it and them with a heinous zeal while affording these young people the
luxury of living a Peter Pan type of lifestyle…as in never having to grow up and
accepting responsibility for the poor choices of their negative actions.

On this particular Jeopardy episode, three kids from various colleges were competing
for the college championship.
During the brief meet and greet portion of the show, Alex asked each student
a question allowing them a brief time of explanation.

One nice looking young man from Stanford was asked a question about his major.
While answering Alex’s question, this young man was, it appeared, to be not only
talking with his hands as he responded to the question,
but one hand was actually raised while he was coyly shooting a bird for the cameras.
For roughly 10 seconds, this kid talked while shooting a bird on national television.

I actually saw this particular episode and never noticed.
But why would I….
why would I think a competitor would want to act like a fool on a national platform?
Alex apparently didn’t notice either.
But Twitter noticed.

Someone tweeted out about the incident with the student quickly responding,
“damn right I did”

Really??

Now why pray tell would some kid, who is sporting the sweatshirt of his college,
proud to be representing his college in a national televised competition want to
show his butt by shooting a bird while casually explaining his college major
to the host of the show?

Rude comes to mind.
As well as selfish.
Selfcentered.
Arrogant…
Disrespectful…

I was angry.
Mad at this blatant act of total disrespect to not only Alex the host, but to
the crew, this student’s fellow competitors, his parents, the audience..
both in the studio and those of us at home.

So now, as a society, do we decide to tolerate this cheeky kid’s behavior?
Do we choose to ignore his disrespectful behavior?
Do we opt to laugh it off as merely brash?
Do we simply chalk it up to youthful ignorance?
Do we shrug it off as just a kid being kid…?

Or do we say enough.

Do we say grow up kid.
Man up, as it were.
Step up to the what it means to be and act like an adult.
Do we respond with a “you think you’re so smart, then act it?”

Maybe his winnings should be forfeited for his disrespectful behavior…
Maybe Stanford should be reminded about the type of “ambassadors”
they’re sending out as representatives of their fine institution of all
things educational.
Maybe it would behoove all of us to recall that actions, all actions,
have consequences…
instead we’ve chosen to turn a collective blind eye to
poor behavior….

Having a lack of respect leads not merely to the obvious opposite of disrespect…
but rather it leads to contempt…
contempt of both one’s self as well as others…
eventually leading us all down the chaotic path to the loss of soul
found only in anarchy.

http://nypost.com/2017/02/24/jeopardy-contestant-gives-trebek-the-finger/

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’
You blind fools!

You snakes!
You brood of vipers!
How will you escape being condemned to hell?

Matthew 23:13-17,33)

the hows and the whys…

Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding,
disbelief or ignorance.

W. Clement Stone

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(wildflower / Julie Cook / 2016)

Look at this amazing tiny wildflower…
it grows wild along the edge of the woods.

Looking at it closely, it really is amazing isn’t it?

The coloring…
those tiny magenta like spots demurely dotting a milky center…
along with those soft yellow streaks…
offered by what seems to be the errant brush stroke of an artist’s paint.

Those fine tiny little fuzzy hairs,
surrounding each gentle and tender petal…
ready and waiting to tickle the foot of any visiting bee….

Absolutely amazing…

Such attention to detail…

A microcosm of beauty that sits for no one in particular,
randomly along the edge of the woods….
Except say for the birds, the deer, the coyotes, the armadillos…
and chances are, it is only the bees that pay it any heed…

A delightful detail to be marveled over.
A sheer tiny portent of beauty….
offered freely to any passerby to gleefully behold…

Yet I do not see such a tiny marvel as mere happenstance.
I do not find it to be some random mix of atoms that swirled together
over the eons, then popped out as this flower…

I do not look upon anything on this earth as mere happenstance…
the oceans and all that they harbor and hold…
the sky with it’s endless cosmic delights…
the earth be it verdant growth or sandy dunes…
Nothing has happened without the knowledge of the Creator…

But…
there are many who would beg to differ.
There are those who will cry foul over such thoughts…
Those who will fight ardently, tooth and nail, to wipe away any such notion…
because for them, that’s all that such is…
mere notions of the uneducated, the simple, the naive and the misinformed…

So when I hear all of this up and arms wailing and gnashing of teeth over all
of this impending election mess of ours….
as in an exclamation point and question mark screaming after the statement…

THE CHOICE IS JUST THESE TWO CANDIDATES?????!!!!!!!

As in…
That’s it??????
That’s all we’ve got??

The anguished lamenting that is currently taking place over the fact that
out of the hundreds of millions of legal Americans,
not counting our illegal population,
we are left wondering how it came down…
to these particular two????!!!!

Down to a woman who has quite the checkered past…
Do you remember White Water???

A woman who was in charge of the this nation’s top security yet continues
to claim “no recollection” as to how that e-mail businesses got so messed up…
A woman who’s job it was to defend and protect our National security interests
around this globe yet chose to willfully ignore the continued pleas for help
by a United States ambassador…

A woman who now has blood on her hands…

Never mind she is married to the man who helped to usher in this ‘no holds bar’
lack of decorum, dare we say morality, in our press…
let alone in our highest ranking office in this nation…
as we disgustingly recall that infamous little red dress…

And there was that famous presidential address to the Nation…
you remember the one…the one in which that famously ridiculous lie was uttered
to both you and I…
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”
Only to come to find out that, well whoops, he did…

And then there’s the other of the two…
the fellow with the equally checkered past…
Lest we remember each and every wife, gaffe, boast, profane and vile remark…
A man who has made millions by always putting himself and his interests first…
Remember “it’s not personal, it’s just business”
cold, callous and calculating…

A man who has treated his fellow man and woman as less than and as mere objects…
A man who’s line, “you’re fired” has became a common household phrase…
as he can cut ties faster than we can bat any eye….

So yes, it is sadly, oddly, bizarrely down to these two,
out of all of the millions who could have been…
we’re stuck with these two….

So I’m of the thought that this is what happens when the Divine is removed from life.
When the Miraculous is coldly cast aside…
When He who is Greater than is cheaply rendered less than by the mere created?
When the Word of God is rewritten, ignored and replaced…
When we have decided that we are more important than everything and anyone else…
and that we obviously don’t need nor want God in our lives….

So should we really wonder how or why we’ve gotten into this mess…?

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” …
Hebrews10:26-31

Unraveling? Hold on!

Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.
George S. Patton

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Our God, Our Help In Ages Past
Isaac Watts

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(spicetail swallowtail butterfly hanging on in a rain shower / Julie Cook / 2016)

We’re all just holding on aren’t we…
seemingly by that proverbial thread.

We look all around us at the escalating global madness…
and we are mystified, even stupefied…
and growing more and more terrified by the day.

We find ourselves hunkering down, covering our heads, expecting the worst…
Or maybe we simply jam our fingers in our ears, dashing about chattering so loudly hoping
to drown out this frightening reality.

“We are living in a stressful age that New York Times columnist
Roger Cohen calls a “time of unraveling…Cohen imagines a future conversation
about the grim situations of the present and writes…
“It was a time of unraveling…a time of beheadings…a time of aggression…a time of breakup…
a time of weakness…a time of hatred…a time of fever…a time of disorientation” in which the “fabric of society frayed.”

(God and Churchill / Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley)

Our political conventions are bordering on the edge of the surreal..
mirroring that of a traveling side show or a two bit circus.

The candidates vie for our votes…
Yet they prefer busing themselves by trading the ugly tit for tat verbiage of hate,
lies and insults.
As the average citizen is left wondering…where have real leaders gone….

Our world is ailing with unrest….and withers under evil’s oppression.

Today, in a quiet suburb of the French city of Rouen, an 85 year old priest, Father Jaques Hamel, was viciously and savagely murdered during the midst of morning Mass.
He was attacked by two young masked men.

The young assailants took four nuns and parishioners hostage using them as human shields.
These attackers forced Fr Hamel to kneel before the altar as they shouted a tirade in Arabic followed with Allahu Akbar, all before slitting Fr Hamel’s throat in front of terrified parishioners…
all the while filming the entire apalling spectacle.

They were later killed by police.

ISIS has claimed responsibility.

Germans continues reeling while trying to make sense out of the latest terror attacks that have rocked their nation. The stories continue making back to back to back headlines.

First an ax wielding young man attacks passengers on a train in Wuerzburg, Germany…

Next a gunman kills 9 at a shopping mall in Munich.

Thirdly, another young man, yesterday, injures 15 outside of a bar, as he proceeds to blow himself up…

The leading newspaper in Turkey ran a front page story yesterday claiming that President Erdogan is now blaming the United States for last week’s failed coup as word circulates that he was actually to blame for orchestrating the whole debacle…which has now given way for his sweeping crackdowns within a country balancing between a tenuous democracy and a Muslim dictatorship.

All of this world drama, as the UK continues to figure out what their voting to leave the EU will actually mean…

Our world has been turned upside down…with Truth, Morality, and The Sacred each becoming a resulting victim.

Indeed the world is unraveling at an alarming rate…
So many of these headlines are simply overwhelming, leaving us all with a sense of loss,
worry and dread…

Fear gleefully now marches far and wide around our globe…as we look to placate our troubles…

However…

We mustn’t lose our hope…
No matter how daunting such the task.

For we may just actually find our comfort and our peace
hidden in the smallest of beings…

Imagine the humble butterfly…

A delicate creature if ever there was one.
Its wings thiner then tissue paper, covered in a dazzling array of fine and colorful powder.
No match for rain nor tempest storm….
And yet they somehow manage to survive.

At the first sign of a change in the weather…
As clouds thicken and skies darken as the winds begin to shift…
the butterfly knows to seek shelter…

For even a single raindrop can kill a butterfly.

Even the resulting dip in temperatures, following in the the storm’s aftermath,
is life threatening because butterflies need the heat of the sun in order to feed, mate and thrive.

Butterflies instinctively know the importance of seeking shelter and holding on during a storm.
It’s a matter of living and dying.

Perhaps…
just maybe…
Its time we each look to the One who offers us our shelter from the storm…
To the One who offers us life in the face of all that is dying….
For He is indeed our shelter from the storm….

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging

Psalm 46:1-3

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Morality

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who,
in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

Dante Alighieri

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(an empty sarcophagi deep within the bowels of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“But evil does not die, just as history does not end. Like a weed, evil can be cut back but never entirely uprooted. It waits for its chance to spread through the cracks in our vigilance. It can take root in the fertile soil of our complacency, or even the rocky rubble of the fallen Berlin Wall”

In his book, Winter is Coming
(Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped)
Garry Kasparov makes a compelling argument as to why it is dire that those of us in the West should be on our guard…as he truly believes the harsh reality of a very cold unbearable winter is soon to be falling upon our fragile democracy.

The single raised rampart of defense is to be morality.

“We need new, morality-based frameworks to confront the dictatorships in Russia and China now that they have so thoroughly become a part of our globalized world…
These frameworks and alliances must be based on moral principles, the only weapon the enemies of democracy cannot match.”

Yet, as I look around our western societies, I look very hard for what remains of a morale society.

Secularism has taken root and spread like a deadly poison weed…reaching deep within the fabric of society. Both Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa each observed that western societies now live, as well as embrace, a culture of death.
Even mainstream media reports on the self-centeredness and perpetual quest of all things materialistic and self gratifying within our millennials.

Morality has never been trendy, convenient nor chic.

Excuses are made as to way morality is so passé and out of step with a modern society.
Abortions, Gay unions, declining traditional marriages, rising divorce rates… all work at whittling away at the traditional family unit…the once true anchor and underpinning of a society’s morale fiber.
As today’s society is just too busy with its focus and quest of self fulfillment to be bothered by something as cliche and outdated as morale fiber.

With the current trend of FaceBook, social media, smart phones and all things technological vying for top god position, the quest for this hoped for champion of democracy is growing ever more difficult and elusive. Self satisfaction is raising the victory flag of satiation instead.

Warnings have been issued before to a slumbering world more interested in appeasement and the total denial of Truth….ending every time with deadly and grave consequences…
Things such as Truth, Morality and even God have each become victims in the endless quest of self…

Time is of the essence to heed these current warnings, once again, before we all begin to feel the icy reach of winter….

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11

fall of the legends

Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends.
One Stab–Legends of the Fall

“History has its truth, and so has legend. Legendary truth is of another nature than historical truth. Legendary truth is invention whose result is reality. Furthermore, history and legend have the same goal; to depict eternal man beneath momentary man.”
― Victor Hugo

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( Schönbrunn Palace Gardens / Vienna, Austria / Julie Cook 2012)

Each day, another individual who lives in our limelight, bites the dust. . .

A well known major network news anchor embellishes his in-field reporting (aka tells lies).

Another older well known and long married nationally syndicated news story reporter has been carrying on a tawdry and torrid, and now very public, affair with a much younger married woman.

A revered married and highly decorated Army General is accused of disclosing highly classified information to his biographer who also happened to be his key love interest.

Another news anchor fails to disclose his political contributions to a high profile presidential candidate which now clouds his “non biased” honest reporting.

A beloved actor and comedian is suddenly accused of a litany of sexual assaults spanning the past 30 years.

The hottest new NFL quarterback hopeful, who was living the life of the fast and furious, has spent the past 6 months of the off season cleaning up in re-hab.

Many an up and coming national political figure has been discovered to be leading a dubious double life—

Plug in any name from any state or any county and it would all sadly fit. . .

It seems that each and every day we read, we hear, we watch as another national and / or local “famous” figure falls quickly from grace.

And it’s not always a famous individual. . .

Atlanta is coming off of an unprecedented, and very nationally embarrassing, public trial of a myriad of its city school system educators who cheated on their students National Standardized tests.
Teachers going to jail for cheating.
The very people who stress to their students the importance of honesty.

It’s pretty obvious that we are living in a world that is less than keen on taking the high road.
Perhaps we’ve become a low road kind of people.
As in low is easy, cheesy and sleazy.

Morality seems to have hit the road long ago. . .moving on without leaving a forwarding address.
The current mindset is simply one of no remorse— but rather remorse comes only with being caught at whatever it was one was simply caught doing.

Mea culpas have become so common place that we have come to expect contrition as opposed to valor.

It sure seems as if man is a flawed and fractured creature.

One would think that we are a most hopeless lot.
That we are in such sorry shape that God has washed His hands of us and simply moved on. . .
And that would pretty much sum up what we deserve.
We’ve made our beds and are now destined to lie them.
Dante painted the picture rather vividly in 1337 with his 9 rings of hell. . .
Hell in a hand basket with no looking back.

And yet. . .

Within the dark days of our fallen ways, there remains a single ray of hope. . .

Grace.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:1-10

Clear as mud

When a man speaks the truth in the spirit of truth, his eye is as clear as the heavens. When he has base ends, and speaks falsely, the eye is muddy and sometimes asquint.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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(Japanese glass floats / Julie Cook / 2015)

Who to believe?
What to believe?
Pundit, cognoscente, critic. . .

Journalists have an angle
Politicians have a slant
Lawmakers have an advantage

Small truths, half truths, no truth
Cover ups, cover overs, cover it all

Integrity or corruption
Under the table or over the table

Secrets, closets, skeletons
Where is the. . .
Morality
Virtue
Honor

Is it a. . .
Mistake or pattern
Is it either. . .
Erroneous or sound

Who do you trust?
Everyone?
No one?
Do you dare go it alone?

Blind eye to that,
but hell to pay for this.

Waffling?
Balancing?
For how long?

No to having, as well as, eating cake

Either
Or

Too easy to opt out of decision making
No to choosing
No to deciding
Neither, either, or perhaps both
Sadly not a viable or lasting option

Do we no longer care?
Are we too jaded?
Have we all merely become lemmings?

Follow me?
Follow you?
Follow who?

Talking points
Turning points
Point of no return

Nothing matters but what is mine
My world
My corner
My way
or
no way

Wake up and smell the coffee
the roses
the truth

Topsy turvy
Spiraling
Spinning
Sliding

Time to get off
time to get on
Time to quit

Do not settle
You are better than this
WE are better than this
Life is better than this

Only one way
not my way
not your way
not their way
only His way. . .

Jesus answered,
“I am the way
and the truth
and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me.

John 14:6

Turning point

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.
Franz Kafka

We have come to a turning point in the road. If we turn to the right mayhap our children and our children’s children will go that way; but if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word.
Charles Spurgeon

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(twilight in the western Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(a rising moon in an eastern Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

In the stillness of the in-between time known as twilight,
Sandwiched between sunset and moonrise. . .
Stepping briefly away from the never-ending emotional assault of manmade turmoil,
The otherworldliness found in Nature’s landscape, offers a respite to overwhelmed senses.

There is silence.

In front lay the setting of a December sun, offering a palette of warm and cool hues swiped across the western sky—the day’s final mark of the Master Artist’s dripping brushstrokes.
Behind rises a brilliant white disc shrouded in the purple gauze of a cloudy eastern sky. Each canvas offset with the royal shades of blues and purples as well as a few touches of soft pink whimsy.

Pivoting and turning both ahead and back, as each landscape’s offering is vastly different yet captivatingly mystical, a great sense of calm descends over the Earth.
Greater and more grand then anything made by man with the overstimulating offering of electronics, technology, and artificial this and that, the heavens above leave no doubt as to what is truly important.

The world stands at a crossroads.
Behind, lay the remnants of what was.
There in the shadows hides civility, morality, compassion, understanding, kindness, and the common goals of unity . . .
Ahead, the seemingly sinister rages of anger, anarchy, chaos, violence, looting, hatred, mistrust all coupled with a strong helping of individual self-centered agenda, set about ready for destruction. . .
The tragic results of falling away and turning from God’s word.
Yet many scoff at such simplistic explanations of the sad state gripping our world—
As the concept of an Omnipotent God competes with the more modern theology of Self.
Appeasement and all inclusiveness seem so much nicer than the following of certain tenants as stated in the covenants established between God and man.

. . .as that would require the belief in such a God and the yielding of self to something much greater. . .

The following words spoken by the late exiled dissident Russian author and Noble Prize Laureate, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, given during a speech in the late 1970’s, eerily ring deeply more prophetic for us today than perhaps the writer could have ever known:
“We have become hopelessly enmeshed in our slavish worship of all that is pleasant, all that is comfortable, all that is material — we worship things, we worship products. Will we ever succeed in shaking off this burden, in giving free rein to the spirit that was breathed into us at birth, that spirit which distinguishes us from the animal world.”

Time is of the essence, yet who is listening. . .
as the sun continues to set and the moon continues to rise. . .


Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!
Amen.

2 Peter 3:17-18

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(sunset in a western Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(soon to be full moon / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(a full December moon / Julie Cook / 2014)