burdens and birth and a prayer

Christian prayer is not something you do.
Prayer is permitting the Trinitarian God to love you as you learn in childlike trust to acknowledge,
relate, receive, and respond within your heart to the Holy Spirit’s presence,
love pursuing you and desiring to communicate with you.

Fr. John Horn
from Heart Speaks to Heart

“Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.”
St. Gianna Molla


(Francis Schaeffer)

Burden, defined by Merriam Webster is: something oppressive or worrisome

But what about a different kind of burden?
The kind that creates a deeply-felt heaviness and furrows our brow?
One that pulls at our thoughts and leaves us with the feeling that there’s
something that needs doing but as to what that is…we are uncertain.

Uncertain until the burden and the revelation collide

It is called a burden of the Spirit…
And according to Watchman Nee:

There is a difference between the burden of the spirit and the weight of the spirit.
The weight of the spirit is from Satan, and its purpose is to cause believers to suffer;
Satan uses the weight to suppress them.
The burden of the spirit, however, is from God.
Its purpose is to make known His will and secure the believers’ cooperation.
The weight of the spirit has no other purpose except to suppress.
As such, it is useless and fruitless.
The burden of the spirit is a burden from God, and its goal is to cause men to work,
intercede, and preach for God.
Such a burden is purposeful, reasonable, and profitable.
Believers must differentiate between the burden in their spirit and the weight in their spirit.

Genuine spiritual work is an assault on Satan and a travail in birth for the believers.

There is indeed no joy to this!
This requires one to die to the self in the deepest way.
For this reason, no soulish believer can truly participate in spiritual work.
Having a happy feeling all day long is not a proof of a believer’s spirituality.
The right kind of believers advance with God without caring for their own feelings.
Many times when believers are burdened in their spirit to fight with the enemy,
they prefer to be alone and cut off all fellowship with the world,
so that they can concentrate in their warfare with the enemy.
At the end of this warfare, it is difficult to find any trace of a smile on their face.
Hence, all spiritual believers should welcome the burdens from the Lord.

(full excerpt here:
https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/THE-BURDEN-OF-THE-SPIRIT-1.HTML)

Ever since I first put the post out there about a unified and collective prayer, I’ve
felt a burden.
Well, if the truth be told, I felt the burden long before putting the post out there.

We’ve had some good thoughts, suggestions, and ideas…
but I’ve still felt something gnawing and nagging at me.

I pondered, offered more posts while seeking more ideas…
I even solicited others not here in blogland as to their thoughts.

But I still felt conflicted.

So there it was again last night, more news about the third term abortions…
Abortions, where a full term baby is not aborted but accidentally delivered,
as in something went wrong with the abortion…
only to be followed by an ensuing debate over “to let live or let die…”

Allowed to die, well that, in my world, is considered murder, plain and simple.

And yet we are watching this “practice” being embraced by the Democratic party.
As this is not the same Democratic party I knew growing up.

And so the gnawing sense inside of me began rising upward, again.

Following the news, I read Oneta’s post concerning abortion…

THE MAN WHO LOOKS ON AND DOES NOTHING

More gnawing.

I sent her this comment:
this is a topic in tomorrow’s post…
the more I think and ponder and seek direction…
I just feel this is the issue of our prayer…a prayer for those whose voices are being silenced.
sigh…

Her response:
I think, Julie, that every Christian has their own “means/ways” of entering into prayer
that often includes acknowledging God’s goodness, repentance, forgiving others.
I think that is not so much what you are looking for as specific needs such as abortion,
addictions, materialism, election results, sexual sins, gender issues, etc.
I agree that now is a time when Christians should join their voices against the sin of abortion.
The country will just move more into extreme such as infanticide, euthanasia, etc
if it is not stopped by the cry of God’s people.
If we were together tonight I would like to pray for the Trump/North Korea issue.
Too late for that, but these kinds of issues could be called as you see them approach.
The Venezuela situation also needs our attention in prayer.
I kept on too long even raising more questions, didn’t I?
Just throw a topic out and we will pray until you feel another topic is called for.
Trust Jesus who is placing the concern in your hands.
Love your concern.

I now felt tears welling up in my eyes.

The words…”cry of God’s people” and “Trust Jesus who is placing the
concern in your hands”

In my mind, that ‘concern’ is a burden which is being placed in my spirit by The Spirit…of which
is what prompted my initial question about a prayer in the first place.

I went to bed feeling very weighted down about what we are now witnessing in
this nation of ours…not only a push to kill babies in the womb, that which we call abortion,
but to what we are now seeing as the plain outright murder of live births.

Then the next morning there was Citizen Tom’s post…
Another tale about this same issue…

ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL

More gnawing…growing into a cresendo…

And then finally our friend Vincent reblogged a post from the Logos folks—
it was a letter written by Francis Schaeffer in 1954 to a friend.

I’ve actually read Shaeffer’s books since high school.

In that letter, I found more clarification for my “burden of proof” in one particular paragraph

“Events since we have seen each other make me more sure than ever that the Lord
is calling some of us indeed to learn all that the blood of Christ and the indwelling
Holy Spirit should mean to us in this present life.
Increasingly, I believe that the Devil fears this above all else.
Doctrinal rightness and rightness of ecclesiastical position are important,
but only as a starting point to go on into a living relationship—and not as
ends in themselves.”

“that the Lord is calling some of us indeed to learn all that the blood of Christ
and indwelling Holy Spirit should mean to us in this present life.

I believe that the pain you have felt, and I have felt, is not the pain of death,
but the pain of birth in a day of blessing,
as the whole body is made more ready for the Bridegroom’s coming.
Surely the birth pains mean little if such a result is born through our dear Lord’s grace.

Not a pain found in death, but a pain found in birth…birth in that ‘of our dear Lord’s grace’

And yet it is an odd juxtaposition of thought in that where there is pain in childbirth
that pain pales when we consider the pain experienced by those babies whose lives are being ended
in very real and literally horrific ways…through abortion.

And so it was in Mr. Schaeffer’s letter that I fianlly decided God has spoken…

The answer to the burden…I am to pray over and for the lives of those who cannot speak
for themselves…
Praying for the lives of those who are being litterally taken before they
even have the opportunity to live.

And it is for the children of not only abortion that I will pray for
but it will be for the children born, following a botched abortion.

You may join me if you like.

Below is Mr. Shaeffer’s letter—- however, before you read his letter, I’d like
to offer one more reminder about a book I read a few years back that is
actually the tale of an abortion gone awry…and in turn, the life of that now grown woman…

You Carried Me
A daughter’s memoir

by Melissa Ohden

The book came my way from our friends at Plough Publishing House.
It is a very powerful read…
Here’s the post regarding the book

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/adoption/

And now for Mr. Shaeffer’s letter…

Francis Schaeffer: Will Today’s Pain Lead to Death or Birth?

Faithlife Staff | Wed, February 27, 2019

Francis Schaeffer (1912–1984) was an evangelical missionary, theologian, and writer,
best known for founding L’Abri with his wife, Edith.

After studying at Hampden-Sydney College, Westminster Theological Seminary
(where he studied under Cornelius Van Til), and Faith Theological Seminary,
Schaeffer pastored churches in Pennsylvania and Missouri.

In 1948, Schaeffer moved to Switzerland and founded L’Abri,
a community where people discuss philosophy and religion.
Thousands of people have passed through L’Abri,
and it has expanded into several other countries.

In the following excerpt from Letters of Francis Schaeffer—included in one of
several Schaeffer collections currently in Pre-Pub—we find Schaeffer reflecting on a
challenging season of his life and the earthly cost of entering into deeper
communion with God.

***

The Pain of Death or the Pain of Birth

[Written shortly after the Schaeffers arrived back in Champéry, Switzerland.
The person to whom the letter was written is not known,
though evidently he or she was close to the Schaeffers,
as is suggested by the last paragraph and the tone of the letter as a whole.]

October 11, 1954

Chalet Bijou

Champéry, Switzerland

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your note of September 20. It encouraged my heart.
How lovely is the Lord, and how wonderfully He is always waiting for us to come to Him
and know His peace and joy.

Yes, the time has been difficult, and yet the peace we have known through it makes
it exceedingly precious.
Since writing to you from the boat, our son, two years of age, has had polio.
He began it on the boat, but we did not know what it was.
His left leg is affected, but the doctor now gives us good hope that he may return to normal.

Events since we have seen each other make me more sure than ever that the Lord is calling
some of us indeed to learn all that the blood of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit
should mean to us in this present life.
Increasingly, I believe that the Devil fears this above all else.
Doctrinal rightness and rightness of ecclesiastical position are important,
but only as a starting point to go on into a living relationship—and not as
ends in themselves.

When you looked over my article in London for the Reformation Review I remember you said,
“They will not like this.” I replied that I knew,
but I did not realize how deep a wound I touched.
I find I am being pursued into my work here, and that a determined and successful effort
was made in Philadelphia to turn some of the Europeans away from these spiritual matters,
and to make them fasten their eyes on loyalty to the external machinery and human leadership.
I am sorry.
The personal may rest, but I grieve for the work of God.
Yet the Lord has given me many wonderful encouragements also;
and I do feel that He is calling many of His own into the place of deeper communion.

Would there ever be a time when you could come to Switzerland to meet with others of
like mind—to fellowship in the quietness of the Alps with a small number as we did
together that night in your home? We would like to entertain you in our home.
I believe that the pain you have felt, and I have felt, is not the pain of death,
but the pain of birth in a day of blessing,
as the whole body is made more ready for the Bridegroom’s coming.
Surely the birth pains mean little if such a result is born through our dear Lord’s grace.

With warm greetings in the slain and risen Lamb,

Francis A. Schaeffer

https://blog.logos.com/2019/02/francis-schaeffer-will-todays-pain-lead-to-death-or-birth/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LogosBibleSoftwareBlog+%28Logos+Bible+Software+Blog%29

Thank you Oneta.

The 21– Muhammad’s answer to the people of the cross…

“Life itself, without faith, would have been worthless to them. It would be mere existence–
an existence more lowly than that of the animals, for animals are perfect in and of themselves, but humans are imperfect;
their aim for perfection requires divine assistance.”

Martin Mosebach author of the book The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs


(book cover)

My friends at Plough Publishing have gifted me with another tantalizing morsel
book for perusal and review.
Well, my publishing friend actually was offering several books for sharing but I requested the hard copy of
but one book—
The 21.

It is the story of those murdered and martyred Egyptian Copts on a Libyan seaside in 2015,
at the hands of ISIS—a story that continues to haunt me.

And it seems that I am not alone in feeling haunted by the memory of this heinous act.
The German author, Martin Mosebach is haunted as well.

Obviously, in order to delve into the story, Mr. Mosebach watched the full video of the beheadings
that was still floating around out there somewhere in cyberspace…that odd juxtaposition of
both space and time where nothing seems to die despite any and all humans involved either eventually
or having long since died.

At the time, as well as now, I did not nor do I care to watch such.

There have been many highly publicized videoed beheadings…
all carried out in the name of Allah by ISIS over past 5 or 6 years, but I have not watched them.

And yet oddly millions have been drawn to watching as if having bought a ticket to some macabre
Hollywood blockbuster…mesmerized by the unthinkable…
The unthinkable of one human being ending the life of another human being–
A life that is literally being held in the hands of an executioner…
or better put, a life’s head pulled up by the hair, all in order to sever the neck and eventually
the head more readily from its body.

Mosebach notes in his book how the original ISIS video actually cut away from what became an extended
as well as messy time the executioners were having in literally cutting the heads from the bodies…
not neat and quick as say the swift effortless job of a guillotine.
And it was very apparent that for the sake of the video’s shock value and propaganda,
the executioners desperately needed, as well as wanted, to look as professional, in control
and as efficient as possible.

A messy beheading can give the impression of being amateurish and ISIS wants nothing
to do with appearing amateurish or not being in complete control—as that feeds into their
desire to always appear large and in charge.

After watching the video and studying the odd camera image of the captors marching their
prisoners to the shoreline while appearing as black-clad giants
next to their captives who were wearing the unmistakable orange jumpsuits reminiscent of the Islamic
prisoners at Gitanomao, as each captive appeared small and less than–

Mosebach was moved by the posturing of the captors mirrored by the near emotionless
and oddly resigned yet the serene sense of their captives.
Prayers could be seen and heard flowing from the lips of the captives as well as the offered
praise for Jesus Christ despite knowing their fate was soon to be grisly.
There were no cries for mercy or of fear …but only controlled prayers to Jesus.

Early in the book Mosebach wonders aloud whether or not martyrdom and Christianity must
always go hand in hand…as he inquisitively muses
“as long as there are Christians there will also be martyrs?”

Mosebach knew that he must make his way to Egypt to visit the
homes and families of these martyred men.
And that he desperately needed to know more about the Copts and the Coptic faith.

The Copts are as old as Christianity itself–for they are some of the earliest known followers
of the Christian faith. Coptic actually means Egyptian—so these are Egyptian Christians.
They originated in the city of Alexandria and claim the author of the book of Mark,
that being John Mark, as their founder and first ‘bishop.’

Long before there was a Latin West or Eastern faith, long before there was
an East and West spilt in the faith, there were the Copts.

According to gotquestions.com,
Prior to the “Great” East/West Schism of A.D. 1054,
the Coptics were separated from the rest by the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451.
The council met to discuss the Incarnation of Christ and declared that Christ was
“one hypostasis in two natures” (i.e., one person who shares two distinct natures).
This became standard orthodoxy for Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic,
and Protestant churches from then on Coptic understanding is that Christ is one nature from two natures:
“the Logos Incarnate.”
In this understanding, Christ is from, not in, two natures: full humanity and full divinity.
Some in the Coptic Orthodox Church believe that their position was misunderstood at
the Council of Chalcedon and take great pains to ensure that they are not seen as Monophysitic
(denying the two natures of Christ), but rather “Miaphysitic”
(believing in one composite/conjoined nature from two).
Some believe that perhaps the council understood the church correctly,
but wanted to exile the church for its refusal to take part in politics or due to the rivalry
between the bishops of Alexandria and Rome.
To this day, 95 percent of Christians in Alexandria are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

It is interesting to note that when the Coptics were under the rule of the Roman Empire,
they suffered severe persecution and death for their steadfast faith and beliefs in Christ while
refusing to worship emperors. However, by A.D. 641,
yet another tribulation began when the Arab conquest took place,
overthrowing the Romans’ rule in Egypt and, at first, relieving the Coptic Church from persecution.
What appeared to be their liberty and freedom became yet again bondage.
The societal strength and control of the Arabs caused the Coptics to endure a major language and
culture change as well as confront the Islamic faith. Unfortunately,
over the centuries, Christianity lost foothold and most Coptics converted to Islam.

I am only to page 26 in the story and Mosebach has not yet traveled to Egypt—
so I am hopeful to read a story rich in history, Faith, resilience, forgiveness and above all Hope—
Hope despite the choking backdrop of Evil.

Some of his words prick the skin.
I find it difficult reading the words written by those who are not Americans…
those who write about America and our politics…
words about our leaders, our actions, our lack of action,
our complications in world affairs…
because like most Americans, I like to think our hearts are in the right place but I also know that
our National actions and reactions are deeply complicated by our politics.
Actions and reactions that fail not only our hearts and our people but fail those of our world.

I think as Americans we tend to feel a responsibility, albeit it a false responsibility, to
make the world a better place and to be the quintessential Superman for those in need.
We sometimes fail…we fail others and we fail ourselves.
So it does hurt reading the words of those who keenly notice.
But as they say, the truth can often hurt.

Throughout his quest, while seeking truth and information, Mosebach is moved by what he
actually does find…
that being a deeply sincere forgiveness found in the hearts of the Copts.
A century’s long-oppressed people who can find the capacity to truly forgive those
who have brutally killed their own families.

Unlike those of the Islamic State who seek misguided bloody, torturous and grisly revenge…
the Copts literally embrace the words of Christ…to forgive one’s enemies, no matter what.
For it is in forgiveness that we find our true liberation and hope.

Their faith goes beyond what we think of Christianity in the West.
That of an ever-growing, feel good wannabe that is polarizing and lukewarm at best.

The Copts seem to understand that our Faith transcends this earth.
Life on this earth is a blink of an eye that matters not…what matters is Christ and Christ alone.
Nothing more, nothing less.

I’ll offer more as I progress as time allows but for now, I will leave us with the
words of Mr. Mosebach…

Much as the brutal nature of their deaths and the firmness,
even stubbornness with which they confessed their faith seem to match one another in context,
we find their fate equally eerie.
Hasn’t the Western world, with its openness toward discussion and dialogue,
long since overcome such life-threatening opposites?
We live in an era of strict religious privatization and want to see it
subjected to secular law.
Society seems to have reached a consensus to reject proselytizing and religious zeal.
Hadn’t all that put an end to the merciless, all-or-nothings alternatives or believe or leave,
renounce your faith or die?

Here is a link to Christianity Today and a story about the Copts and forgiveness.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/april/forgiveness-muslims-moved-coptic-christians-egypt-isis.html

Two ways, one choice

“There are two ways, one of life and one of death,
and there is a great difference between these two ways”

The Two Ways


(bookcover)

The kind folks at Plough Publishing have once again shared a few new books with me for my review.
Sometimes I have time to read them, sometimes, I don’t.
Sometimes I have to settle for a bit of berry picking…pursing for those tastiest little
nuggets…nuggets that not only need to be shared but such nuggets are necessary when it comes to sharing.

I received a couple of books with today’s offering bieng from one of those books.

The Two Ways
The Early Christian Vision of Discipleship from
The Didache and The Shepherd of Hermas

With an introduction by Rowan Williams

The Didache, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, an anonymous work composed in the late
first century AD, was lost for centuries before being rediscovered in 1873.
The Shepherd of Hermas was written by a Roman Christian named Hermas in the second century AD
or possibly even earlier.
A tale in which the “angel of repentance” appears to Hermas, a Christian living in Rome in the form of a shepherd.
Both works were included in early lists of canonical books.

There was, in the eyes of Rome, a deadly difficulty in the claim made by the early Christians
and that of their loyalty, or lack thereof, to the state.
As it appeared that their loyalty was no longer found in the authority of Rome and of the state
but rather in a man who Rome considered dead and gone.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in his introduction to the book
examines the life of Christians during the infancy time-period of the new ‘religion’
as seen from the eyes of the political and governing body of Rome.

Williams notes that “any Chrisitan in this period knew that, even if things were relatively peaceful,
it was always possible that a suspicious government would crackdown.
(Sound familiar 21st century Christians?)

The suspicions were well-founded in one sense.
If you look at the eyewitness accounts of martyrdom in these early centuries—
documents like the wonderful record of the martyrs of Scilli in North Africa in AD 180–
you can see what the real issue was.
These Christians, most of them probably domestic slaves, had to explain to the magistrate that they
were quite happy to pray for the imperial state,
and even to pay taxes, but that they could not grant the state their absolute allegiance.
They had another loyalty—which did not mean that they wished to overthrow the administration,
but that they would not comply with the states’ demands in certain respects.
They would not worship the emperor, and, as we know from some texts, refused to serve
in the Roman army.

They asked from the state what had been very reluctantly conceded to the Jews as an ethnic group—
exemption from the religious requirements of the empire.
What made their demand new and shocking was that it was not made on the basis of ethnic identity,
but on the bare fact of conviction and conscience.
For the first time in human history, individuals claimed the liberty to define the
limits of their political loyalty,
and to test that loyalty by spiritual and ethical standards.

That is why the early Christian movement was so threatening–and so simply baffling—
to the Roman authorities.
It was not revolutionary in the sense that it was trying to change the government.
Its challenge was more serious:
it was the claim to hold any and every government to account,
to test its integrity, and to give and withhold compliance accordingly.

The Early Christians believed that if Jesus of Nazareth was “Lord,”
no one else could be lord over him, and therefore no one could overrule his authority.

We use the word “Lord” these days mostly in a rather unthinking religious context,
as a sort of devotional flourish: for a Roman, it meant the person who made the decisions you had to abide by,
from the master of a slave in the household to the emperor himself.

To speak of Jesus as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” was to say that his decisions
could not be overridden by anyone.
You might have to disobey a “lord” in our society in order to obey the one true Master of all—
the one who used no violence in enforcing his decisions but was all the more unanswerable
an authority because of that.
He alone needed no reinforcement, no temporal power,
to overcome external threats of rivals.

The theology of the early centuries thus comes very directly out of this one great central
conviction about political authority: if Jesus is Lord, no one else ultimately is,
and so those who belong with Jesus, who shares his life through the common life of the worshiping community,
have a solidarity and a loyalty that goes beyond the chance identity of national or political life.

The first claim on their loyalty is to live out the life of Jesus which is also the life of God–
a life that needs no defense and so has no place for violence and coercion,

God, says Clement of Alexandria in the late second century, shows his love supremely in the fact that
he loves people who have no “natural” claim on him,
‘Humans love largely because of fellow-feeling, but God’s love is such that it never depends
on having something in common.
The creator has in one sense nothing in common with his creation—how could he?
But he is completely free to exercise his essential being, which is love, wherever he wills,
And this teaches us that we too must learn to love beyond the boundaries of common interest and
natural sympathy and, like God, love those who don’t see to have anything in common with us.

So many good nuggets here to taste, savor and finally digest…
And that’s just from the introduction!!!

From the notion of how we currently use the word “Lord” when referring to Jesus…
With it being more of a case of mere verbiage rather than a true sense of one who actually is in sole
authority over us.
As in one of true Lordship.

For in the word “Lord” one finds deep humility, yielding to and the deferring of self to that of another…
all of which is actually found in the use of what most consider to be a simple single word.
All of which are concepts so foreign to the 21st-century self-sufficient mind.

And so here’s the thing…
we have a new year.

The gift of a new year.

Yet for so many reasons, we needed to throw out this past year a long time ago.
It was caustic, volatile, vitriolic, hate-filled and divisive.

We have watched a nation, and an entire civilization, turn her back on her
Omnipotent Creator.

We have seen sinfulness legalized and legitimized while those who cry foul are victimized, scorned
and are actually now deemed criminal.
Criminal for holding, claiming, speaking and standing firm in the Faith of the One True God.
While sadly the majority who claim that belief stand idly by saying nothing.

Our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson, has been offering his own review of a book with
a somewhat familiar title.
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

The book’s title is a nod to a novel of the same title by C.S Lewis
(That Hideous Strength–the last in a space trilogy from 1945),
Tinker takes Lewis’ work and runs with it…making a novel applicable to our current times
as we watch a Post Christian world teetering on the brink of irreversible destructive harm.

Our dear friend, the rouge Anglican cleric Bishop Gavin Ashenden, states that “if this book manages to wake
the Chruch to the danger it faces it will have done a great service to the Kingdom of heaven today”.

In his reflection of Mr. Tinker’s work, John Steven, FIEC, contends that
“The last sixty years have witnessed the death in the West of the Judeo-Christian worldview and its
replacement by an increasingly totalitarian secularism. Melvin Tinker deftly explains how this
revolution happened, and exposed the tactics that enabled Cultural Marxism to triumph
amongst our institutions and elites. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that this new ideology
is simply about achieving equality.
Rather it seeks the abolition of the family as the basis for society.
Having identified the challenge he helpfully shows how Christians should respond.
Following in the footsteps of William Wilberforce we must proclaim the gospel of God and
vigorously refute the ideas and values of the present day.
He calls for bold and courageous evangelical leadership, which is often sadly lacking
in the contemporary church.
Although a challenging read, this book provides invaluable help in understanding our
contemporary context.
It will make you grieve, pray, and deepen your confidence in the gospel fo the Lord Jesus,
which is alone able to free lost men and women from their bondage to sin and Satan.”

And we have grieved have we not?

I have felt much palpable grief this past year, living in the obvious descent into this
post-Christian world.
It has been a slow yet painful, none the less, descent.

But this year, this new year there are faithful voices crying out into the wilderness for us all to
take heart, to repent, to put on our armor and to be bold.

Be silent no more we are told.
But rather proclaim…and do so vigorously.

Be bold and courageous…for it will take boldness and courage to take on the cultural ideology
while showing our loyalty…loyalty not to the current state but rather to the one true Lord.

Get ready…the clarion call has sounded.

“Let the nations be roused;
let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
for there I will sit
to judge all the nations on every side.
13 Swing the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Come, trample the grapes,
for the winepress is full
and the vats overflow—
so great is their wickedness!”
14 Multitudes, multitudes
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and moon will be darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
16 The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.
Joel 3:12-16

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

Sun, moon and the love of a grandfather

“There are fathers who do not love their children;
there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.”

Victor Hugo


(an older moon shot I’ve used before / Julie Cook / 2016)

I know that yesterday I had given us, or perhaps actually issued is a better word,
a laundry list of “issues” that we were going to need to play catch up with….
all sorts of pressing issues that had come down the pike while I was busy
with all things snow….

And yes, we shall indeed visit those issues…however, I was called into active duty, unbeknownst to my best laid plans, with active duty in my case being
the emergency holiday help at my husband’s store…

So now that I’m finally home, it’s late and I’m trying to prepare some sort of
hot meal of sustenance and get a post ready for tomorrow (which is now today if
you’re reading this), so I think we’ll hold up
on those more pressing topics until I have the proper time to do them justice….

And as life would have it, something interesting arrived in yesterday’s mail
that is now taking precedence.

You may recall that the I have a friend at Plough Publishing House who actually
happened upon my blog about a year ago or so.

That’s how we met.

She has been sending me sample copies of books that she thinks that I will enjoy…
and in turn will perhaps share with others….of which I have as time has allowed.

The small package that arrived in yesterday’s mail was one of those books.

A book that probably has made a bigger impact on my heart than my publisher friend
would have imagined.

Those of you who know me or have been reading this blog since this time last year…
know that I was knee deep in caring for my dad and stepmother.

Dad had an aggressive form of bladder cancer…he was diagnosed in late August and died
in March. Both he and my stepmother had also been diagnosed with varying degrees of
dementia quite sometime before that…
so needless to say we were just all in the middle of a downward spiral is putting it
mildly.

It was a hard road for us all…with dad being an amazing example
quiet acceptance, perseverance and fortitude.

This time last year we already had 24 hour care as well as Hospice care…
plus I was driving over each and every day.

The last time dad had actually gotten out of the bed was on Christmas day when we
wheeled him to the table to enjoy Christmas dinner.
Naturally he didn’t have much of an appetite but he was most keen for the dessert.
So dessert it was.

Dad and my son had a very special bond.
My son was my dad’s only grandchild and Dad was more kid than dad…
so needless to say, they stayed in cahoots most of my son’s growing up.


(Christmas day 2016, Brenton and Dad)

My dad was always graciously generous to his grandson and to say that my son
was dad’s partner in crime was to have been putting it mildly.

I won’t go on as it seems I’ve written about all of this before and if I do go on,
I’ll simply loose focus over my original intent of this post and
cry more than I already am.

The book my friend sent me is actually a children’s book.
And I imagine it came my way because I will become a grandmother soon.
Yet the tale of the book resonated so much with me, not so much because I am
a soon to be grandparent,
but rather because it is a tale about a grandson and his grandfather.

It is a book written by a German author, Andreas Steinhofel and illustrated by a
German artist Nele Palmtag—and yet the tale is quite universal.

Max’s grandfather is in a nursing home because he has what is surmised to be
Alzheimers or some other form of dementia….’forgetting’ being the key word.
And nine year old Max, who adores his grandfather and misses their life together
before the nursing home, formulates a plan to “spring” his grandfather from the
nursing home…
in essence a plan to kidnap his grandfather.

And in so doing another member of the nursing home escapes by accident.
A long and spindly woman who is in search of the sun…as she dances
behind Max and his grandfather on their misadventure.

The tale is not a long read—-
I read it in less than an hour’s time.
Yet it is a deep read by adult standards.
It is funny, it is cute, it is painful, and it is very very real.

I think my 29 year old son would appreciate the story much more than his 9
year old self would have—as he now has the hindsight of understanding
Max’s deep longing.

I know that if my son could have kidnapped his “Pops” from that hospice bed he
would have….and off on one more adventure they would have gone.

But in this tale of last adventures, Max’s grandfather reassures Max, who is now desperately afraid that his grandfather, in his forgetfulness, will forget
he loves Max…explains to Max that he will always be there, loving Max,
even if it appears he has “forgotten.”

He explains to Max that when we look up into the sky we know the moon is there
because we can see it. Yet during those nights that the sky appears to be moonless,
which is only because of how the sun is shining on the opposite side of the moon—
the moon is indeed still there—just as his love will always be there for Max,
even if Max won’t be able to directly see it….

After finishing the story last night, I could not recount the tale to my husband
without crying…finding myself just having to stop talking as I allowed the tears
to wash down my face.

The story as read for a child would be fun, poignant as well as mischievous…
As for any adult touched by the stealing effects of memory loss or just the loss of
a loved one in general, will find the tale heartwarming and very poignant.

Just as I now fondly recall a life that once was…

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8

ahhh, youth….

“Inner strength is our most powerful weapon”
Hans Scholl

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents,
the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.
When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

Sophia Loren


(a curious killdeer / Mackinac Island / Julie Cook / 2017)

Today’s headlines are rife with the misdeeds, shenanigans and out right barbarism
of our younger generations…

Just today there was a heinous story about a group of teens, ages 14 to 16, who had actually videoed a disabled man drowning in a retention pond in Florida…
Worse, they did nothing in the way of offering assistance or getting help—

And what is even more unconscionable, they later posted the video online
where they are heard mocking, cursing and ridiculing the drowning / dying man.

This latest incident comes on the heels of the continued reports of the ongoing
unrest raging on many of nation’s college campuses. Ever since November’s election
we continue witnessing students protesting, rioting, marching and simply
causing all manner of mayhem in the name of their presumption to a freedom
of expression.

Now don’t get me wrong…not all our youth are bad, spoiled, hateful or even evil.

However it just seems that those who do as they should, who do what is right, who
strive to be positive examples are never the ones highlighted, recognized or
applauded for taking the higher moral road.

My editing friend at Plough Publishing House has sent out another book recently…
At The Heart Of The White Rose…Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl
Edited by Inge Jens

I doubt my publishing friend is aware that four years ago I had actually
written a post about this youthful brother and sister duo.
It was a post written after reading the book
A Nobel Treason–The Story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Revolt Against Hitler.

I often think about this young brother and sister especially when I see the stories
about our own young people today.

I often think about the ultimate sacrifice this bother and sister made during
their own generation’s time of madness.

I think of their conviction and bravery.
I think of their selflessness.
I think of how they chose to fight for a cause without violence or temper tantrums.
I think of how they never backed down once they were caught and tried.
Never ashamed of what was really the Truth and what was a lie.
They never acquiesced, never gave in, never gave up.

I’m just starting the new book.

It’s a collection of letters and diary entries.
An intimate window into the lives of two ordinary kids who simply wanted to live,
grow and learn…
yet who opted to take a stand against a very real evil—
not something merely perceived or imagined.

They risked everything.
And in the end, they lost everything.

And yet their story which is decades old remains most relevant to this day.
Perhaps even more so given our own precarious time of anger and angst run amuck.

When we look around to our own current day’s madness…
I pray that we may remember that there will remain those who know right from wrong
despite the maddening times claiming otherwise…

here is a link to that original post……

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/a-noble-treason/

Do not be deceived:
God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand….

Galatians 6:7-11

choose to be in love…

“Where love is, there God is”
Leo Tolstoy


(vibrancy found at the garden center / Julie Cook / 2017)

“Our greatest danger is not our sins, but our indifference.
We must be in love with God.
All other loves pale in comparison.
Our nature is not built for so strong a love, so we must change our nature.

All other loves I have must be a sample of the love of God.
All the world and everything in it must be sample of the love of God

When we say that we love God with our whole heart, it means whole.
We must love only God.
And that sets up the triangle—
God, the soul, the world.”

Dorothy Day