it’s all making sense…or maybe not

“God will judge us not according to how much we endured,
but how much we could love”

Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ

Well, I sat down late Easter afternoon…worn out, exhausted and thankfully thought I might be
starting to actually be feeling a tad bit better…but I
certainly didn’t want to say that out loud.

I wanted to shift my thoughts to something from what I had just finished reading.
It’s a book about a story…the story includes my own yet fully compiled story
oddly intertwined within…
so any talk about all of that is going to have to wait…

Therefore I opted to pick back up a book that you may remember that I had been reading…
reading until things went a bit skewed.

That Hideous Strength: How The West Was Lost
The Cancer of Cultural Marxism in the Chruch, The World and The Gospel of Change
by Melvin Tinker

And I had every intention of offering another tidbit today that really struck me as to
how Mr. Tinker, and in turn, C.S.Lewis, foresaw what was to be the catalyst for
so much of our cultural troubles today….but, something else caught my attention.
Something that required me to put that thought on hold a day or two longer.

I’ve written about Christian Persecution before.
I’ve actually written about it a great deal.

But the trouble is…the persecution keeps escalating.
Not lessening, not keeping an even keel but growing

Now it’s not that I would ever think that my tiny little words could make
much of any sort of difference, it’s just that I feel it important to
speak out—just like I do about abortion.

These things don’t get any better, so I just keep trying to shine a little
light in the darkness.

Since Sunday, nearly 300 people have died from the terrorist bombings which took place in Sri Lanka
during Easter services.
8 bombings total rocked the country with 3 churches full of worshipers, along with three upscale
hotels, being purposely targeted.

The attackers were Islamic extremists.

Western leadership outrage hit the twitter waves…

Hillary Clinton offered condolences
“On this holy weekend for many faiths,
we must stand united against hatred and violence.
I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers
and travelers in Sri Lanka.”

Barack Obama offered condolences for Easter worshipers….
“The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity.
On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal,
we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka.”

But wait…

What exactly is an ‘Easter worshiper’?

Christians go to Chruch on Easter in order to worship…so might they be what the former president
was painfully trying to acknowledge?

Yet last I checked, no one worshiped Easter.

Christians worship, on Easter, the Risen Christ…The Redeemer.

So I think we’re seeing one piece to this puzzling problem…
American leadership never likes to use the “C” word….that being the word, Christian.

But I’ve written about that before.
I’d actually written about President Obama having a very difficult time voicing the fact
that there is actually real persecution against Christians.

And for all his grandiose rhetoric and eloquence of speech when speaking or addressing
a crowd, he could never call a terrorist attack what it actually was…
an attack by Islamic Extremists.

According to a story offered on Fox News back in Janurary,
“An international Christian organization is warning that the persecution of Christians
worldwide is set to rise in 2019 — and it’s calling on the United States to do more to help.

Release International, a U.K.-based charity that helps supports persecuted Christians
around the world and a partner organization of Voice of the Martyrs,
warns that this year, particularly in China, India, and Nigeria, persecution
against Christians is rising.

The story continued…
“These are countries that have long been on the list but we’re seeing
an upwards curve, an alarming rise in persecution,”
Andrew Boyd, Release International spokesman, told Fox News.

“Release has been doing this work for 50 years,” Boyd added.
“I have no doubt that persecution is increasing and it is alarming
and the contexts are different. You have militant Islam in Nigeria;
China, which is communism; India, which is militant Hinduism;
North Korea which is a weird blend of communism and Emporer worship.
There is an increasing intolerance and it’s being played out in violence and
we know it because of the reports that are coming from our partners on the ground.”

https://www.foxnews.com/world/christian-group-warns-of-sharply-rising-persecution-in-these-countries-in-2019

And yet our leaders continue to turn a blind eye while refusing to use the “C” word
or the ‘I E” words…

It was way back in 2014 when I first started writing about Christian persecution.
A year later it was to be a post about Islamic Extremists.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/ostriches-and-ducks/

Tomorrow I hope to tie in what I was reading regarding the catalyst that has lead
our culture into its current abyss and rising attacks on Christianity…

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
2 Timothy 3:12

hospitality while staying the course

“The most deadly poison of our time is indifference.
And this happens although the praise of God should know no limits.
Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Do not seek to be regarded as somebody,
don’t compare yourself to others in anything.
Leave the world, mount the cross, discard all earthly things,
shake the dust from off your feet.”

St. Barsanuphius


(a tiny ladybug rumaging about the hydranga blosoms / Julie Cook / 2018)

June, albeit already being known as National Icecream month, is quickly becoming
my national babysitting month…
This as I am here and there, acting as said keeper of the wee one, as work schedules and
summer workshops are currently on a collision course.

However, you won’t hear any complaints coming from me…more than happy to oblige…

But this balance of both distance and time, of which are each keeping me overtly busy and
currently stretched thin, is hindering my ability to fully contribute and offer meatier
and tastier posts… as well as forcing my unintended negligence to those day to day interactions
with those of you who are my friends and kind enough to offer your own thoughtful reflections,
feelings and words of wisdom.

And speaking of interactions…

I suppose I’d like to say a word or two regarding some rather interesting interactions
I’ve had with those who have been wandering into cookieland…
wanderings taking place from say, a week or so ago.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before.

As it’s an odd occurrence really.

Let us reflect a moment on the notion of hospitality.

I’m Southern born and raised and those of us who hail from the South are usually known
for our Southern Hospitality.
A graciousness in opening our doors, our homes, our lives our hearts…welcoming and inviting
others to ‘come sit a spell’…inviting others to come rest while we offer a
bit of respite from the pressures of life.

I shared this very notion, just the other day with Tricia, from over on
Freedom Through Empowerment.

I explained to Tricia that years ago I had read a small book that had actually been
written centuries prior.
It was actually more of a manual rather than a book.

The book is known as The Rule of St Benedict and it was written by Benedict of Nursia
in the 1st Century.

Benedict wrote the book as an instructional manual for those who were wishing to follow
in his footsteps…living life as a Christian monk…
an order of Christian monks known as the Benedictine Order.

It was written for those Christians living during the persecution of the Roman Empire…
a time not known for its hospitality toward Christians.

The little book has had amazing staying power as many a Fortune 500 company has their upper
management read the book as a lesson in how to work with others as well as how to treat others.

According to Wikipedia “The spirit of Saint Benedict’s Rule is summed up in the motto
of the Benedictine Confederation: pax (“peace”) and the traditional
ora et labora (“pray and work”).
Compared to other precepts, the Rule provides a moderate path between
individual zeal and formulaic institutionalism;
because of this middle ground it has been widely popular.
Benedict’s concerns were the needs of monks in a community environment:
namely, to establish due order, to foster an understanding of the relational nature
of human beings, and to provide a spiritual father to support and strengthen the
individual’s ascetic effort and the spiritual growth that is required for the fulfillment
of the human vocation, theosis.

However, there was one rule in particular that spoke to me more so than the others…
it is the Rule of Receiving Guests.

All guests who arrive should be received as Christ so that he will say,
“I was a stranger and you took me in” [Mt 25:35].
Show honor to them all, especially to fellow Christians and to wayfarers.
When a guest is announced, let him be met with all charity.
Pray with him, and then associate with one another in peace.
(Do not give anyone the kiss of peace before a prayer has been said, in case of satanic deception.)
Greet guests with all humility,
with the head bowed down or the whole body prostrate on the ground,
adoring Christ in them, as you are also receiving him.
When the guests have been received, let them be accompanied to prayers.
Then let the Abbot, or some he chooses,
sit down with them.
The divine law be read to the guest for his edification,
and then you should show him every kindness.
The Abbot should break his fast in deference to the guest,
unless it is a day of solemn fast,
which cannot be broken.
The other brothers however should keep the fast as usual.
The Abbot should pour the water on the guest’s hands,
and the whole brotherhood should join him in washing the feet of all the guests.
When they have been washed, let them say,
“We have received your mercy, O God, in the midst of your temple” [Ps 48:10].
Let the greatest care be taken, especially when receiving the poor and travelers,
because Christ is received more specially in them.

Chrisitianhistoryinstitute.org

In other words, how to be a gracious host.

Benedict admonished those managing the various monasteries to always be willing to
open their gates and doors to all who would venture to knock…
no matter the time day or night.
He told the brothers to get up in the middle of the night if necessary in order
to warmly welcome both stranger and friend should anyone come knocking with a need.

The brothers were to open their doors, offering food and drink as well as a place of rest to
wayward travelers.

That one “rule” made a strong impression upon me because early in our marriage,
my husband would often call me at the last minute to inform me that he’d received a call
from a “friend” who just happened to be passing through and informed my husband
that he wanted to come for a visit.

Such news would usually leave me grousing as I scrambled to tidy up,
put out fresh linens while rushing to prepare an impromptu meal usually after
I had worked all day.

So much for feeling very gracious.
Rather, I reluctantly confess, that I selfishly felt put out.

Yet over the years, I’ve come to understand that the giving of ourselves,
our time, our attention,
our skills, our food, our home, our possessions are really not so much about “us”,
but rather it’s about something far greater than ourselves…

And so it’s with St Benedict’s Rule in mind that I have faced a bit of a conundrum here
in my little corner of the blog world.

For you see, I tend to write about mostly Chrisitan related content.
Content that I’m pretty passionate about.

Be it my sharing of the insights and observations from two of my favorite clerics
from across the pond to my serious concern over those ancient Middle Eastern Christian
sects that have come under violent attacks by ISIS, to my dismay over
living in what has quickly become known as a post-Christian society to
the unraveling of what we call Western Civilization.

And yes, I am often outspoken as well as passionate about my concerns.

But the thing is, I’m writing a blog…small as it is.
There is no social media tied to this blog.
No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Pinterest…
Why?
Because I don’t participate in “social” media…only that of a blog.

Therefore my little corner is small and limited, yet passionate none the less.

I’ve always found that I like to learn, share and grow in my own faith…
as I still have so much to learn.
I like to do so by reading and learning from what others teach.
I consider my blog, and those I enjoy reading, an extension of a Chrisitan
Community.

I grow in the Spirit by reading and learning from other Chrisitan Spiritually based
individuals.
I don’t go looking for trouble.
I don’t go trolling.
I don’t care for those who do.
Trolling is a waste of time.
Nothing good comes from such.
Why waste life’s precious time by doing such?
I’ve yet to figure that out.

And at times I do believe that I am a bit of a Christian Apologist…
a defender of the Faith as it were.
God’s Word being God’s Word.
No mincing.
No rewriting.
No twisting.
No changing because we as a people feel the need to change.

Speaking what I sincerely believe to be Truth.
God’s universal Truth.
Speaking His Truth here on this blog.

All here on a blog that is here if you want to read it…
or not.

And that’s the key…or not.

Meaning no one has to come here and read anything I write.
That’s kind of the magic of a blog…you have a choice…
to read or not to read.

In fact, that’s how I do it.
I seek to read those who teach me and fulfill me with that which is edifying….
meaning it is rich in the Word as it offers up a hearty offering of Life in the Spirit.
Offering the positive because why would I want the negative?

Not the hostile.
Not the angry.
Not the hateful.
But rather that which is edifying, uplifting, and even liberating.

So imagine my surprise when I was hit by a barrage of those doing just the opposite.

Professing agnostics and atheists who had come visiting, en masse,
speaking of indoctrination, dinosaurs, lies, falsehoods, contraception, abortion,
young earth creationists, the Bible as fairytale, no Noah, no Moses, no flood, Jews,
science…as the list and comments grew and grew in number.

As cordial as I could be while standing my ground, the sneering, the questioning,
the snideness, the belittling, and the vehemence only escalated or rather more
accurately devolved into a swirling quagmire of running in circles.

Demands of justification, clarification, debate, arguments, proof, and defense
continued not over the course of a few comments but rather such ran on and on for days.

Verbal attacks and the pushing downward into the unending rabbit holes of nothingness…
down into the black abyss of nonsense.

Other’s jumped in, in defense.
Words grew heated and even ugly.
The word was spread by the nonbelieving to rally because the Christians were now
proclaiming.

A real shame.

But I hear that is the plan.
Divide, confuse, conquer.
Or so they say.

My thinking…you don’t like what you’re reading, go find what it is you do like.
Don’t berate.
Don’t harangue.
Don’t belittle.
Don’t be smug.
Don’t be snide.
Don’t be divisive.
Don’t be hateful.
Don’t be crude.
It benefits no one…especially yourself.

But don’t pretend you’re confused and that you don’t understand.
Don’t pretend you truly want explanation and clarification because all you want
is to publicly mock, accuse and berate.
You are sly and cunning…as those are the pages that come from your playbook.

However, my door will remain open to anyone who comes to visit.

The invitation will always be extended to one and all to come…
to come put up one’s feet and to sit a spell.

But come because you want to come…
Come because you want to visit, feast and fellowship.
Come because you want to share, to learn, to grow.
Come because you want to offer to others…
Come because you want to offer more, not less.
Come with peace, not hostility…

Or simply don’t come…

Don’t come but go elsewhere…
Go where you find your fulfillment because obviously, you’re not finding that here.

As St Benedict so wisely instructed, “Do not give anyone the kiss of peace before a prayer
has been said, in case of satanic deception”

So, therefore, may we pray for discernment over deception while we continue to extend the hand of hospitality.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:2

time to saddle up boys…and girls

“Courage is being scared to death,
but saddling up anyway.”

John Wayne


(image of a rider using a bull rope to tie his hand to a bull in order to stay on as long
as possible without being bucked off—from an Ebay image of all things)

I’ve written about this before but there is a pasture across the road from our house that
is home to a bunch of rodeo bulls.
Ours was not the luck to have horses across the street, although
two do live next door, nor could we even have a peaceful herd of dairy cows, sheep or goats…

Nope—we had to have rodeo bulls.

Loud, very vocal, very smelly, rodeo bulls.
Maybe 50 plus bulls.
Summer garden parties, when the wind is out of the northwest, are not for the faint
of heart at our house…so needless to say, we don’t host any.


(one neighbor / Julie Cook / 2013)

We don’t know the folks who keep up the bulls, as they don’t live in close proximity
to the field, but we’re told that they raise them,
or actually pasture them, for local rodeos.

I, for one, think the field looks atrocious and really question the “care” being offered
these animals but like I say, we hear the owners of the field are a curious lot.

Once, a few years back, the fence was so bad that the bulls kept pushing their way through
and would actually wander down the road or into a neighboring subdivision…
and even into our fenced property…
Go figure!

So you should know that an out-of-place bull is a force to be reckoned with…

Not much makes them want to move.

The local sheriffs would have a time trying to find the owners while attempting to herd the
animals back to the pasture.

The owners have since put up a new fence,
as word is the county made them an offer they couldn’t refuse,
so the bulls now thankfully remain in their pasture.

I’ve never been to a rodeo but I have caught them ever once and a while when televised on TV…
and I must admit that there is just something a bit intriguing about what it is that
makes a man want to climb on the back of a 1500 pound angry muscle machine,
tying himself to said angry beast, in an attempt to see how long he can stay on the back of
the animal before he is thrown off.

Not to mention the fact that the animal could then easily crush him under hoof or even
gore him with his horns…
Hence the life of a rodeo clown.

The cowboy will tie his hand to the bull using a leather rope known as a bull rope.
This is a means of holding on to the animal while the other hand
waves precariously in the air.

And I suppose if you want to stay up and on, tying a hand to the adversary is the
way to go.
But the hope is, that when the cowboy is thrown, his hand will come lose lest he dangles
haphazardly swinging randomly about attached to the wild flailing animal…
being drug around the arena while the bones in his hand, wrist, and arm snap
like little twigs.

All of this imagery of being tied to a bull came to mind today when I was thinking
about the current plight of most Christians worldwide.

An odd thought perhaps but stay with me a minute.

We are living in a very precarious time.

I write often about the current plight of Christianity worldwide.

Persecution is at a level not seen since the days of the Emperors of Rome.
Even here in our cozy little Western Society, Christianity is under heavy
attack.
It may not be physically brutal but the persecution is very much real, alive,
present and very much active—in a very insidious fashion.

Here is a one-minute snippet of an interview with Jim Caviezel, while on the set
of the filming of The Apostle Paul, when he was asked about Christian persecution:

The other day in the post I’d written about our friend the Wee Flea,
the Scottish pastor David Robertson, and his frustrated lament of being fed up with
measured responses, Mark over on’Thoughts From Mark “Hat” Rackley’
Origins
offered an interesting response to my post…

(you can read the comment following the post here
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/03/29/fed-up-with-measured-responses/)

Mark offered a powerful observation found in scripture regarding the lost generations
and the silencing of the faithful…
“If an entire generation is lost, God will raise rocks to shout praises to Him.”

(When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives,
the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all
the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
(Luke 19:37-40)

I was tremendously struck by that passage.

It is a very powerful passage—

Imagine… God easily and readily raising rocks to shout His praise??!!!
For if He wanted such, it would therefore be.

It’s hard enough to herd a 1500 pound bull where it needs to go,
imagine getting a rock to sing.

And so I feel as if it’s time that the faithful tie their hands to the back
of the raging bull….as we fight to hold on…

The ride is not going to be easy nor for the faint of heart.
We will be tested and tried as we narrow our focus to the task at hand.

There will be the occasional distractions, much like the rodeo clowns, but
even the clowns won’t be able to distract Satan from letting loose upon the faithful
in those / these final days…

Tie the rope tight, because the ride is about the begin…

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

riding a seasonal wave or just waiting for us to die…

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

[Meditations Divine and Moral]”
Anne Bradstreet


(a neighbor’s wanning blooming tulip tree / Julie Cook / 2018)

Still in Atlanta, still playing nurse and grandmother…as our daughter-n-law,
the new mother, is still quite ill…
and as we are all still very very sleep deprived.

This new grandbaby has her nights and days confused…
she is, however, her father’s daughter as I seem to recall having the same problems
with him…

Slowly I’m making my way back to redirecting a little bit of outward focus.

Yesterday in my post I wrote about the disparaging remarks being made about the
now late Christian evangelist Billy Graham.

In that post, I referenced our lovable renegade Anglican bishop Gavin Ashenden’s post
regarding that now very troubling trend of Graham bashing…
of which leads us all back full circle to that of Christian bashing.

I followed that up with a similar observation being made by our friend the Wee Flea
who had also written several posts regarding the recent and ever-growing secular melee
taking place regarding the passing of this ardent Herculean Christian crusader.

I don’t know—but maybe this business about being a new grandmother has resurrected the
sleeping mama bear in me…
Whereas I have been rather glum over the direction I’ve watched our society skirting
these past many months…
I think I am now gravitating back to just being flat out mad.

What type of world are we….we meaning you and me…those of us who are members
of the Faith, what type of world are we allowing to mould and shape our children?

Do we not care that each and every day more and more famous, infamous and
just plain ol folk are taking aim at the practice of our personal Faith and beliefs?
Even that of the very underpinnings of Western Civilization’s foundation—
a Judaeo /Christian base?!

As the attacks grow, we find growing ridicule against our beliefs in God’s mandates—
Mandates such as marriage being between one man and one woman.
Mandates that children are born either male or female—
Mandates that Jesus Christ is the Way and the only Way to Salvation.

Do we not care that those who are considered to be conservative, a traditionalist or
an orthodox member of the faith, those who adhere to the moral fiber of the
Christian faith, do we not care that they are now being considered expendable
and a pariah?

Perhaps we’ve simply decided that it is best not to upset the apple cart…
perhaps being a non-committal, disengaged ostrich, sticking our heads in the sand,
is the best approach to life.
Maybe if we just keep our heads down, ‘they’ won’t notice us.

Does it not bother us that because we seek to adhere to God’s word that we are in turn
ridiculed, attacked, threatened and told that we may no longer believe or
act upon that Word of faith?

Does it not bother us that our rights as Christian believers are no longer the
same as others who are non-believers.

Well…

It bothers me.

It bothers me that boys and girls as young as 6 are considered “mature” enough to
decide if they want to remain said boy or girl.
What does a non-sexually active individual, one who has yet to develop or mature
sexually, understand about sexual orientation?

Boys are boys
Girls are girls…

When did we decide that man was a better guide than God in our lives?

You may answer to the contrary…
You may counter that none of that is who we, the Faithful are…
Answering with a resounding no…that no, we haven’t allowed those things to happen…
And yet haven’t we helped to create this current caustic life…??

Our indifference, our appeasement, our fear, our choosing blindness to the chipping
away at our very foundation…that is indeed the fault of us all.

However, it should be noted that Christians, as in you and I are currently being told that we
may no longer hold our prayers publically…
that we may no longer demonstrate our faith outwardly…
all the while other religions are encouraged by our current culture to bask in their rituals.
Are we not being dubbed as homophobic while being branded ignorant…
all because we believe in the mandates of our God.

And as our Wee Flea friend succinctly points out…
we are now being told that we exist on the “wrong side of history.”
That even Jesus Christ existed on the wrong side of history…
as the demigods of today have hailed themselves the all-knowing wise sages
who are currently attempting to alter and rewrite our history.

Our Wee Scottish friend continues in his latest post with a stinging observation
regarding the current negative coverage of Billy Graham’s death:

“And as there have been many fine tributes to the life and testimony of
Billy Graham, what struck me were the number of people and organisations who couldn’t
even wait until his body was cold before they stuck the boot in.
These reactions tell us a great deal about our culture and churches.”

Billy Graham preached Christ, and he preached the cross of Christ.
He may have been on ‘the wrong side of history’ from the perspective of those who think
they know what that is, but he is now on the right side of eternity where I’m sure he has
already heard the words that all believers long to hear:
‘well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord.
(Matthew 25:21).

So perhaps the question which we must ask ourselves…
are we merely riding a seasonal wave of a series of modern-day Christin persecution or
are we experiencing something much more sinister…

Was Billy Graham a homophobic, Christ denying, antisemitic and bigoted failed evangelist on the wrong side of history?

spiritual abuse, double standards and changing times

“In a world of ‘safe spaces’ it appears that no space is safe.
So it was with interest and a degree of concern that I heard of a new term
about to be added to our legal vocabulary.
As well as sex abuse, child abuse, racial abuse, hate crime abuse,
emotional abuse, psychological abuse and domestic abuse,
we now have ‘spiritual abuse’ SA”

David Roberston on the Wee Flea


(a bumper sticker as seen from sitting in a parking lot/ Julie Cook / 2018)

“Mother, what are you doing?!”

“I’m taking a picture of that bumper sticker.”

“Mother, why are you taking a picture of that sticker?”

“I think I may want to use it in a post on the blog”

“MOTHER! NO!
Do Not Cause Trouble!”
Life isn’t that easy Mother, you can’t call people out like that!”

I’m not calling anybody out Son…nobody knows that car, where it is, who it is
or who you are for that matter.
I’m just wondering what would happen if I had the same sort of sticker on the back of
my car—something like…
‘Why Christianity.org”…Faith, Hope, Love…”

“Somebody would probably throw something at your car or slash your tires Mother.
And who says there isn’t already some sort of organization out there
pushing Christianity like that?
Mother why do you want to cause trouble?
This is not the same city you knew growing up.
Times are different…
Muslims recruit and you’re not supposed to be bothered by that.”

“Exactly.
I’m not supposed to be bothered by that, yet everyone would be bothered
if I was the one out recruiting for God and Jesus…
I’d be ridiculed, mocked or branded a homophobic, or NeoNazi or the racist…
the list goes on…
And I for one don’t like a double standard.”

He may be almost 30 but I can still sense the eyes rolling when he’s seated behind
me in the car.

After lunch, we’d run by the grocery store while his very pregnant wife ran into
the store to grab her last bottle of prenatal vitamins.
She’s decided to give up being pregnant for Lent.
The doctor told them that it’s any time now…
but if our little baby-to-be decides that the womb is a happier place,
they’ll induce next week.

I’m with her—the womb just might be a happier place!

And as sure as shootin’, there would be those who would jump on some sort of box
scolding me for actually really noticing the bumper sticker in question.
They’d tell me that “they”, whomever the “they” may be,
have just as much right to advertise, recruit and spread the love as anybody else…
that is…
all but for me…
the American Christian who doesn’t like a double standard.
Throw in my gender and ethnicity and we’ve got a real scandal on our hands.

And no, I’m not trying to cause trouble…
because I for one believe in our freedoms…
those very freedoms that men and woman have been dying for since before 1776.
Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from tyranny…and freedom from being
bullied because I will not hide that I am a Christian.

So yes I pretty much believe in freedom…
Yet I am discovering, each and every day, that that same notion of Freedom
does not apply to me as a Christian nor does it apply to Christianity as a whole.

Now we should all know that I really don’t care that a Muslim wants to put a bumper
sticker on a car.
Nor do I care if a non-Muslim wants to put a sticker about an Islamic organization on a car.
Just as I don’t care if a Jew, a Buddhist, a Pagan or even me, the Christian, puts a bumper
sticker on a car…becasue we are free to do so—I think we call that freedom of speech.
I’ve even seen offensive ‘F’ word bumper stickers that I find highly offensive…
but that whole freedom thing doesn’t give a didly that I’m offended.

What I do care about however is the growing contempt for Christianity.

So it should come as no surprise that today our friend the Wee Flea Scottish Pastor
writes a post about some new nonsense now out there being touted as “spiritual abuse”

Now when I think of “spiritual abuse” things like Scientology comes to mind.
Cults come to mind.

The sort of things my mother was always worried over when I was growing up.
Because I grew up during those late 60’s and 70’s–a time rife with movements and cults…
Think Charles Manson. Think David Koresh.

Kids were all the time running off to crazy places and things—
places and people who witnessed parents having to kidnap their own kids and
have them “deprogrammed.”
Things my parent’s generation were afraid of for their children, my generation…
just as I am now most worried about my grandchild growing up in a civilization where
Christians are now more globally persecuted than ever before,
while no one says a darn thing.

A bit tongue and cheek, a bit heavy-hearted, our Wee Flea friend lists the definition,
as he sees it, as to what Spiritual Abuse is all about…

What is Spiritual Abuse?

From my point of view those who take their stipends from the church but do not teach
what that church teaches are being spiritually abusive.
Those who manipulate in any unbiblical way are abusive.
Liberal theology is abusive.
Legalistic theology is abusive.
Most BBC religion I find to be quite manipulative and abusive.
Should they be prosecuted?
Should we ban Jehovah’s Witnesses?
The Mormons?
Catholics?
Anglicans?
And what about the dreadful Free Church of Scotland –
with all their ‘keeping the Lord’s day and refusing to work on Sunday’ nonsense….
is that not abusive?
What about the Baptists putting psychological pressure on people to almost drown them?
Or charismatics ‘laying on hands’ –
surely that sounds dodgy?
Almost anything or any group can be termed ‘abusive’.

The trouble is that the term ‘spiritual abuse’
(as opposed to emotional, physical and psychological abuse)
is so lacking in definition that you are going to end up with the government
telling us what is really spiritual and what isn’t.
Do we really want the government and lawyers determining theology?
How ironic that in the name of the secular state,
the separation between church and state will be broken down,
as the state starts telling the church what it should teach and do.
It will be the end of religious freedom in this country
(and given that religious liberty is the foundation stone of all freedom,
it will lead to the end of all freedom – as the authoritarian state,
led by the civic priesthood, determines all our thoughts, words and actions).

The Real Danger

Where this madness could lead was exemplified at the Anglican General Synod last week
where one member asked if the spouses of clergy who had had extra-marital affairs
could be described as ‘survivors of spiritual abuse’.

A Catholic woman could claim that she has been spiritually abused because the
Catholic Church does not allow her to become a priest.
Jayne Ozanne could claim spiritual abuse if Christian Today published an article
that upheld the biblical teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.
A child brought up in a Christian home could claim spiritual abuse because they
were made to go to church with their parents.
The list is endless.
And so are the dangers.
The bottom line is that, whatever the good intentions of some,
this is not primarily about stopping abuse or protecting children,
it is about using the danger of abuse in order to control and suppress.

The crime of spiritual abuse: One of the most dangerous ideas in decades

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil,
but living as servants of God.

1 Peter 2:15

what lengths are you willing to go so that no one will ever forget?

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.
Malcolm Muggeridge


(Photo: Getty Images/Ellen van Bodegom)

Maybe you’ve fantasized about living out your days in a Mediterranean villa.
You might have even gone so far as to check listings before the reality of your
bank account forced you to give up on the dream.
Well, despair no longer.
One town on the Italian island of Sardinia is offering the real estate deal of a
lifetime, as long as you’re willing to stick around for the long haul.
In Ollolai, one of several hundred historic homes could be yours for just $1.25 (€1).
Yes, really.
Mayor Efisio Arbau successfully petitioned local residents to turn over their
abandoned homes in the town,
which then put them on the market for the attention-grabbing low price.

The aggressive real estate blitz is an effort to prevent a town known for its
successful resistance to the Roman Empire from fading into obscurity.
The village’s population has shrunk from 2,250 to 1,300 over the years,
and the migration of its younger people to larger cities has led to a declining birthrate.
“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,”
Arbau told CNN.
“We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die.”

as seen on Conde Nast Traveler / CNN Travel

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/ollolai-italy-one-euro-homes/index.html

I always love these stories—the ones about the small tranquil village that has witnessed
a tremendous decline in its inhabitants and in turn makes almost outlandish sales offers
in hopes of luring would-be occupants and potential citizens to come own, inhabit and live,
all at very little expense, for a piece of paradise.

And we know that the reasons for these villages slow deaths are for all sorts of troubles…
families move, youth…when grown…move-out and away,
and the Old…well they have simply died…

And so now all these small communities, all over the globe, begin to slowly shrivel up and die…

The young see no growth, no fun, no potential, no reason to stay.
Young families have no real choice in schooling or sound medical care.
Those trying to make a living and livelihood discover that such is nearly nonexistent…
while the Old have hung on for as long as they can, yet are now dying off in large numbers…

It is the visual death knell sounding for small communities worldwide.

And yet there is a real desire that these communities remain for they have existed for eons…
they have been the underpinning, the lynchpins, of our greater society as a whole…

And of course, the catch for the potential buyer is always the caveat of remodeling
and pouring copious amounts of cash into the refurbishing of said piece of paradise.

But I’ll admit, the allure of buying a piece of paradise for all of a buck is pretty darn
appealing…however it’s the copious amounts of cash needed for the remodeling, modernizing
and upkeep that is the killer of the dream.

And so I bring all of this up as I’m still making my way through Andreas Knapp’s book
The Last Christians…Stories of Persecution, Flight, Resilience in the Middle East.

You may remember it was the book that my publishing friend from Plough Publishing House
sent out for my perusal back around Christmas.

It’s not a long book and you’d think I would have finished it ages ago,
but it is a book that demands my full attention—
especially since I take highlighter in hand as I read, along with a notepad
as I make notes while reading.
I cover only a few pages or a chapter a day here and there as time allows…

For meatier stories demand our utmost attention…and this is such a tale because the
subjects of this story deserve nothing less.

And it is not an easy read—it is not easy reading about persecution, murders, terror,
and insanity.

I was struck by what Mayor Efisio Arbauin said in the Conde Nast / CNN article
about why he wants to maintain his dying village in Sardinia.
“the aggressive real estate blitz is an effort to prevent a town known
for its successful resistance to the Roman Empire from fading into obscurity.”

Advertise like crazy as we want to maintain an ancient town that stood up against
an aggressive, mighty, powerful and brutal empire…

And yet I marvel at how the world at large will allow the last remaining true
Aramaic Christians, who trace their lineage, which in turn is our lineage,
back to Jesus himself–a world that will allow, nay is allowing,
these Aramaic Christians to be tortured, murdered,
disbanded, scattered and ultimately totally destroyed and wiped from the face of the Earth.

Read the following excerpt offered by the book’s author Fr Knapp along with a
priest and Bishop Petros Mouche who is the leading prelate of a
dispersed and disparaged people:

“Many people in Western countries, he points out, campaign for the protection of
animal species threatened with extinction.
And yet all appeals to halt the loss of the oldest Christian
Culture and its people and language have been ignored by the Western World”

(Bishop Petros Mouche displaced Syriac Catholic)

A young priest along with the Bishop both relate their tales of horror to the author
Fr. Knapp

“He who says nothing implies consent”
Latin Proverb

“How can we rebuild our trust?”
We can’t simply forget what happened.
And how can there be reconciliation with our Muslim neighbors when they haven’t expressed
the slightest regret?
Indeed will Muslims ever be capable of acknowledging any guilt toward us Christians?
Bishop Petros intervenes quietly at this point: “In times like these, we ourselves
can experience feelings of aggression.
We must overcome them.
It is God’s will that we should love our enemies.

I am silent, left speechless by his stance in the face of such a brutal reality.
He shakes his head thoughtfully.
“We can’t just forget what has happened.
But we will ask God to forgive the offenders
and lead them to think differently.”

Still, the white-haired bishop’s face betrays a deep anguish.
With this last oasis of Iraqi Christianity now under IS control,
and a nearly two-thousand-year-old
local church reduced to rubble, Qaraqosh is like a ghost town.
Bishop Petros is especially troubled by the fate of a three-year-old girl and some
young women abducted from the Christian villages of the Nineveh Plain who–
like the Yazidi women-face sexual abuse, forced marriages with
Islamic fighters and slavery.

Bishop Petros told me of one eighty-year-old man who asked the terrorists why there wouldn’t
spare his family any food for the children;
their response was to hack off his hands and feet.

And yet the Bishop states that “they may have lost everything else,
but they have never lost their faith.”

What will the world be willing to offer in order to save these last Christians?
What will Christians be willing to offer in order to save these ancient brothers and sisters?

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;
and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,
who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

what are you willing to die for

“You cannot turn me from my holy Faith by threats, nor with promises of riches and pleasures.
I will obey your orders willingly, if you will leave me free to follow my religion.
I would rather surrender my head to you than to change my faith.
I was born a Christian, and I shall die a Christian.”

+ St. John the Russian


(lingering pomergarnite / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2018)

The definition of the word martyr, according to Merriam Webster is: a person who voluntarily
suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion.

When we think of individuals who fit that description…we think of those individuals
who reach out to us from various Biblical tales.
We recall the stories of individuals who were tried and sentenced to death
for their faith in God, people like Daniel in the lion’s den—
or of Mesach, Shadrach, and Abednego along with King Nebuchadnezzar who decreed
having them thrown into the furnace…
We think of the stories of those individuals who refused to recant their belief in
the Omnipotent God.

Stories that are both far away and long ago.

And so in turn, we know from our Biblical history teachings that St Stephen was the first
recorded Christian martyr—
a man who refused to renounce his Christian faith, that of his belief in Jesus Christ…
with the near obvious result being his death…
and in Stephen’s case, it was by stoning.

The New Testament is laced with such stories—the stories of those who
suffered and died for refusing to denounce Jesus Christ as the Risen Son of God.

Yet today when we hear the word martyr or martyrdom, our 21st-century minds focuses in
on radical extremists…radical Islamic suicide bombers who offer themselves,
their lives, in order to kill as many other people as possible.
Not like the Christian who simply stands firm in his or her faith.

Christian martyrs are still being killed worldwide…
They die more or less quietly as their deaths are not publicized or are of common knowledge—
in part because they die in places where news of such is very hidden and or controlled.
Their deaths do not make the papers or the evening news.
Their deaths are not the headline gripping stories of deaths carried out by those who
prefer to kill mass numbers of people due to a skewed faith…

Many in the West, members of the Christian faith along with nonbelievers,
erroneously assume that Christian martyrdom ended with the fall of Rome…
due in part because the deaths of martyred Christians
does not make the nightly news or is not sprawled across the headlines.

The tales of imprisonment, tortures, and deaths of today’s Christians are not on the level
of breaking news as are those of the martyred Islamists because of the flip-flopped
extremist’s view of martyrdom.
Whereas the radical kills hundreds in one act—the countless numbers of tortured and
martyred Christians go virtually unnoticed.

However what we do know is that an Islamic Martyr sacrifices self in order to kill
while the Christian martyr is killed because he or she will not recant their faith…
and often is killed because of an attempt to protect others…
certainly not to harm others.

A vast difference.

Today most Westerners, and again that would be both Believers and non Believers,
does not feel a life or death threat or link to or for any martyred Christians
simply because the notion of a martyred Christians is not currently taking place.
Or at least that’s what we assume.

We aren’t still stoning or curcifying a person because they claim to be a Christian,
are we???

But what many in our society do not realize is that just because we live in an oh so
very modern society, there are indeed places still around the globe where Christians
are being stoned to death and even crucified for their faith despite our thinking
such barbarism disappeared eons ago.

Yet we read of IS and of the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians and
we occasionally hear a word of those who are killed for their faith in places
like North Korea, China, Myramar…but not here we will gloat, not where life
is civilized…right?

Yet what we fail to both see and understand is that the persecution of the Christian
in our Western Society is very much real…. however it is more hidden,
more insidious and quietly more subtle than those types of murders and deaths of those
Christians from either our history books or of those in far-flung regions of the world.

It would behoove us to realize that just because we consider ourselves “civilized” and
above the torture and or persecution of individuals for their Christian belief,
we should stop and take notice that there is one who is very much aware of the fact that
there is indeed such persecution taking place…
as such acts are carried out in a much more hidden and sinister type of execution…
And this individual is much more keenly aware of such…much more so than any human being.
And He couldn’t be more excited…

Abba [St] Athanasios, bishop of Alexandria, said:
“One of you often says: ‘Where is the persecution so I can be martyred?’
Suffer martyrdom in your conscience; die to sin;
‘Mortify your members which are upon the earth’ [cf. Col 3:5]
and you will have become a martyr by intention.

Those [former martyrs] fought with emperors and rulers;
you have the devil, the emperor of sin, for adversary and demons for rulers.
For at that time a shrine and an altar stood before them and an abomination
of idolatry, an execrable idol.

Take careful thought;
even today there is an altar and a sanctuary and a virtual execrable idol in the soul.
An altar, that is luxurious gluttony; a sanctuary, the longing for delights;
an idol, the spirit of covetousness.