jockeying for position

Everything is expressed through relationship. Colour can exist only through other colours,
dimension through other dimensions,
position through other positions that oppose them.
That is why I regard relationship as the principal thing.

Piet Mondrian

(uncle Percy hiding in the pack-n-play/ Julie Cook / 2018)

(Uncle Percy and Autumn in Autumn’s pack-n-play / Julie Cook / 2018
don’t worry—Percy was moved right after the picture was taken as he likes to sneak in when no one is occupying the pack-n-play but is always discovered and removed)

I will take my post;
I will position myself on the fortress.
I will keep watch to see what the Lord says to me
and how he will respond to my complaint.

Habakkuk 2:1

pray without ceasing

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds;
and to the one who knocks,
the door will be opened.

Luke 11: 9-10

(San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, the “Queen of the Missions/ San Antonio, TX/ Julie Cook / 2014)

I have, as we have been told, to pray without ceasing.

Or so it seems.

Yet words such as exasperating, frustrating, maddening creep upwards
melding with the prayerful petitions.


Then I am reminded, once again, that God, to whom I lift my words, my petitions, my prayers
is a God without time nor space…
He is not defined nor held by the restraints of my world’s limitations…

And so I am to pray without ceasing…

which means, without ceasing….

Persevere in knocking, even to the point of rudeness, if that were possible.
There is a way of forcing God and wresting his graces from him,
and that way is to ask continually with a firm faith.
We must think, with the Gospel:
‘Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you,’
which he then repeats by saying,
‘Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened’
(Luke 11:9-10).
We must, therefore, pray during the day, pray at night, and pray every time we rise.
Even though God seems either not to hear us or even to reject us,
we must continually knock, expecting all things from God but nevertheless also acting ourselves.
We must not only ask as though God must do everything himself;
we must also make our own effort to act according to his will and with the help of his grace,
as all things are done with his support.
We must never forget that it is always God who provides;
to think thus is the very foundation of humility.”

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, p.35
An Excerpt From
Meditations for Lent

we stand on the periphery

We should weep as we watch our society regress into the pre-Christian Greco-Roman/pagan
view of the world.

David Roberston

(Laocoön and his sons, also known as the Laocoön Group. Marble,
copy after an Hellenistic original from ca. 200 BC.
Found in the Baths of Trajan, 1506.)

It’s no secret that I ardently follow and read the words and observations of two very
different, yet actually very similar, clerics who both happen to live in the UK.
One is a Free Church Presbyterian Pastor in Scotland the other is a former Chaplin
to the Queen and former Anglican priest,
who now happens to be Bishop of the Christian Episcopal Chruch.

They are evangelical, conservative, orthodox, traditional–clerics of two vastly
different denominations yet both are much more similar than they are different.

I’m not sure as to whether either man is familiar with the other but I would suspect
that they have some sort of knowledge of one another as each man has had his
fair share of attacks by a more liberal press for holding to and freely voicing a
strong Biblically rooted Christian faith.

When it comes to defending the Christian teachings, neither man is afraid to
take on MPs, authors, professors, reporters or other clergy members.
They are each, in their own right, true defenders of the faith.

They are both very learned men and well read.
And they can certainly hold their own and not think twice nor bat an eye when
it comes to professing the Truth as it is met with every form of attack and or assault.

I admire that in them.

They do not buy into the feel-good dribble being passed off in so many churches these days
as a modern take on Christianity—that when stripped and pared down to the bare bones,
it is nothing more than the self-proclaimed gospel of the individual verses
the Gospel of the Risen Christ.

In Christianity, there are some very hard truths.
Truths that we in this 21st century of ours have grown unable to stomach as we find them
difficult as well as uncomfortable and therefore intolerable to acknowledge or accept.

Jesus did not come into this world to pat us on our heads and tell us of the marvelous
job we are doing.
He did not come to applaud our half-hearted efforts nor the notion of ‘if it feels good,
it is good’ nonsense.

Jesus came to save the sinner.
And the sinner is each one of us.
Each of us is at fault.
If you don’t believe that then your ego is bigger than your very soul.

Each one of us falls short.
Each one of us needs a savior…if not saving from the world…saving rather, from our
very selves.

The fact that our culture is not progressing, as we so often quip with our labels of post
modern progressivism… but rather, in actuality, we are regressing…
Regressing back to a time of self-absorption and intolerant barbarism as we live
our lives preferring the paganism of a myriad of self-created demi-gods to the One True God.

We are slowly becoming what we so smugly deemed of those in the past as primitive,
ignorant, egotistical, ancient and primal.

Hedonistic is the better description.

I am encouraged knowing that there remains those who continue to speak the Truth despite
the world’s desire to dispel it.

Whereas those of us who hold steadfast to the Christian faith know that the battles
continue to rage, the war has already been indeed won—
Yet we may still weep as we take stock of the battles we are beginning to fight.
As fight, we must.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead,
and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of
teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist,
discharge all the duties of your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

Once was blind….

But…and this is a vital truth of the Christian Gospel –
Jesus does not invite and accept ANY of us just as we are.
He came to save us.
He came to make us a new creation.
He came to give us new life.
It makes a mockery of Christ to regard him as some kind of affirming angel
who wants to tell us how good we really are.
Christ did not die on the cross to keep us in our sin,
he died to save us from them!

David Robertson

(blooming loropetalum / Julie Cook / 2018)

It is a hymn written in 1779 that I’d lay money that both Believer and non-beliver alike
could easily and readily recite…

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.”

I actually prefer the bagpipe rendition myself.

It’s such a familiar tune that we might just find ourselves humming it subconsciously…
unaware that we were even humming…

Yet the back story, as I have discovered with most things that seem larger than life,
is usually far more amazing than the actual “thing”—
and in this case, that thing is a beloved hymn.

Perhaps it is the story that simply adds to the majesty and beauty behind those
haunting words.

In 2006 a wonderful movie come out showcasing the tale behind the famous hymn—
And as with most movies…liberties were undoubtedly taken to “enhance” the emotional
impact upon the viewer.

But the story behind the hymn—involves a man haunted by 20,000 ghosts and another man
who makes his sole mission in life to bring everlasting freedom to countless men,
woman and children.
Colliding tales that need no outside enhancements.

The story, as most already know, focused on William Wilberforce, a young idealist member
of the British Parliment, ardently campaigning to end the British slave trade industry.

The British Empire had been involved in the abducting, buying, selling and trading of
African slaves since the mid 1500’s.
Obviously, this was long before the colonies of a new Nation followed suit.
And yes it was tragically a longstanding yet prolific form of enterprise for the
British Realm…

Slave labor was an integral component in the production of the sugar from the
sugarcane plantations scattered about on the various British owned Caribbean Islands…
Sugarcane equates to sugar which equates to the making of rum.
So the use of slave labor, which was key in the running of the sugarcane plantations,
eventually became an important asset to the early British colonies in
what became the new American settlements in their production of cotton.

And so it was a former English slave ship captain turned Anglican cleric named John Newton
who actually penned the lyrics to what would become the most beloved Christian hymn.
For it was Newton who was the haunted man of the sins of not only his past but of the
past sins of those he had known as well as his own Nation.

Newton and Wilberforce had a long lasting relationship, a relationship that acted as a
catalyst in spurring on the young idealist politician’s lifetime quest as an abolitionist…
A quest which finally in 1807 lead to the eventual end of the British Realm’s
trading in slaves.

Our friend the Wee flea, the Scottish pastor David Robertson, offers a wonderful
observation about a small essay that was written by John Newton concerning his
thoughts and lessons learned about his participation in the slave trading of human beings…
reflections that David believes are just as important for our 21st-century lives and
the current #metoo movement….just as they were almost 200 years ago as an Empire and her people
wrestled with the sins of its past.

#MeToo: 7 lessons for the movement from slave trader John Newton

David follows that post with another equally insightful post concerning the Chruch in Scotland
and it’s reaction to the growing phenomena known as self-identifying along with the transgender
movement which is now invading the lives of the UK’s grammar school children.

Two Churches Struggling with (Gender) Identity

storms will rage

“I know well that the greater and more beautiful the work is,
the more terrible will be the storms that rage against it.”

St. Faustina

(early signs of change / Julie Cook / 2018)

March enters like a lion and exits like a lamb…
while April showers bring May flowers…

or so we are reminded.

Spring is a tumultuous time here in the South.
It might snow one day while tornados wreak havoc the next.
A good two months of a seasonal roller coaster ride.

I’m beginning to feel much the same with regard to our Christian faith.
Our lives have become a roller coaster ride of ups and downs of attacks and assaults—
physically, verbally, mentally, and of course, spiritually.

It is the season of our times as Believers as we are reminded:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms

Ephesians 6:10-12

That we may be ready, come what may…

“Throughout Sacred Scripture, we find that when God’s people fast,
the power of their prayers is increased, especially when they are engaged in spiritual warfare.
In the Old Testament, the Lord told Isaiah that a fast properly undertaken would
‘loose the bonds of wickedness … undo the thongs of the yoke…
let the oppressed go free’ (Is. 58:6)…
In the New Testament, we find that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the
wilderness in preparation for His battle with Satan,
who came to tempt Him (see Lk 4:1-2)…
If prayer is a spiritual weapon, fasting is the spiritual whetstone on which it is sharpened.
It’s the spiritual muscle that,
when exercised regularly,
strengthens the thrust of that weapon to pierce the Enemy and drive him away.”

Paul Thigpen,
Manual for Spiritual Warfare p. 42

I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

little flower

“He does not come down from Heaven each day to stay in the gold ciborium.
He comes down to find another Heaven He cherishes infinitely more than the
first, the Heaven of our souls, made in His image,
living temples of the Most Blessed Trinity!”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 31
Meditations with the Little Flower

(the blooming quince, a sign Spring is nigh / Julie Cook / 2018

“If a little flower could speak,
it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it,
without hiding any of its gifts.
It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty,
or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals,
or the storm bruised its stem,
if it knew that such were not the case.”

― Thérèse de Lisieux

A stranger in a strange land

“We are Christians, and strangers on earth.
Let none of us be frightened;
our native land is not in this world.”

St. Augustine

(a surprise flock of deer in the middle of surburn Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2018
talk about strangers in a strange place)

Many years ago my aunt and I were taking an overnight flight from Atlanta to Milan.
This was not our first trip to Italy and I proudly figured that I knew just enough
conversational Italian to get us through any real language barrier.
All would be well I confidently told myself.

Yet in the back of my mind, I knew my aunt.
A panicker if ever there was one.

She knew the word equivalents to hello, yes, no, good-bye and stop.
She depended on me just as a blind person would depend upon a service animal.
I was to be her eyes and ears and mouth while navigating all over Itlay for the
next 3 weeks.
She was simply happy and content being along for the ride.
No thinking, no working, no figuring…just eating, drinking, shopping and seeing.
That was the extent of her comfort level when travelling.
No real thinking—just enjoying…while leaving the details to one more savvy
and experienced.
And in this case, that simply left me…

So what could possibly go wrong?

Arriving early morning in Milan, which was middle of the night Atlanta time,
and having flown for nearly 9 hours in a tin can in the sky with absolutely zero sleep
and limited nutrition…
We deplaned, made our way through the terminal, found our luggage,
then when trying to figure out where the train was located that was to take us into town…
well, I might as well have been hit on the head, suffering from complete amnesia.

Exhaustion was hanging like a thickly spun cobweb in my brain.
Panic was creeping up through my now rapidly and tightly closing throat.
I stood in the middle of the terminal looking around, trying to make sense, trying to translate
signs directing us where we needed to go.
It was as if my brain had gone blank and all that practice of asking in Italian where
the train station was located…as was now gone the time spent memorizing the map of
the airport…it had all instantly, completely and totally left me.

Yet I had to get a hold of myself as I didn’t need my 70-year-old aunt turning into
a wailing Henny Penny.
“GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF” I mentally screamed at myself.

And just as quickly as that sense of panic of a blank brain had engulfed me,
I clamped down on that boiling panic and calmed down… as I casually sauntered over
to the information desk asking the nonplused airport employee if they
“parli inglese”

And no that was not the end of our adventures during that particular trip…
but those are stories for another day…

It does, however, remind me of today’s quote by St Augustine.

A bold reminder that we Christians are strangers on this rather strange planet.

For we are indeed a strange people in a strange land.

Just like my aunt and I when we first arrived in Milan.
Strangers, much out of place, most uncomfortable and seemingly lost in what
was a new strange land.

I am currently grossly far behind reading and listening to both my two favorite
‘across the pond’ clerics, that it isn’t even funny.

This new role of grandmother, dashing around on the fly, with little to no sleep while
being out of pocket from my usual routine and home…
has me terribly out of sync here in blogland.

Yet I did manage to look over Bishop Gavin Ashenden’s latest musings which
actually starts off with a tale about Meghan Markle of all people—
that soon to be bride of Prince Harry.

It seems that Ms Markle has “agreed” to be baptized and subsequently confirmed
into the Anglican Chruch of England…as a gesture of graciousness for her soon to be
Grandmother-n-law who, as Queen, is known as the “Defender of the Faith” and “head”
of the Chruch of England.

The good bishop smells something a bit odious.

Not so much because of Ms Markle herself, who is obviously trying her best to now “fit in” into
her fiancee’s most British world as well as into his family…
but rather odious because of the Chruch of England itself.

As a Christian, I find it a bit odd, awkward and simply wrong that one would want to be
“baptized” as a child of God and in turn confirmed into a church body simply for the sake
of “fitting in”…
Not to mention the notion of a church body that sees such a life-altering decision as a mere

I wonder if Ms Markle actually understands the implications behind what it means to
be Baptized–or as to the requirement of what is required of one who “joins” the church?

I wonder if the Church of England actually understands the life-changing and deeply
mystical experience that resides within the act of Baptism.

When we have a church body baptizing individuals as a means of helping one to fit in
or as a technicality…then I know we as Christians are indeed treading in a strange land.

And here is the dilemma for the Church of England.
A state Church wedded to a state that hates Christian virtue and Christian ethics;
a state that has begun to criminalise Christian witness as hate speech,
where police arrest street preachers and have them thrown in prison at the push of
a SJW’s phone button;
a state that has begun preparations to remove children from their Christian homes
if social workers detect what they improperly label ‘homophobia’ in the parents;
a state where Christian teachers are expelled and sacked if they do not endorse
the secular brainwashing on the fluidity of gender.

Meghan Markle, Justin Welby & The Use And Abuse Of Baptism.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
For what can be known about God is plain to them,
because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes,
namely, his eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,
in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 1:18-20