best to be prepared

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him.
If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.
Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.
If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord,
put division between them.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

When I was a young girl, I was a girl scout…well actually I started out as a Brownie then
I rose in the ranks to that of Girl Scout then eventually to that of Cadet…

Life as a Cadet, however, was short-lived as there seemed to be other things for me
to do by the time high school was on my horizon.

But the one thing, the one lesson, that I seemed to have gotten down pat from my time as
a “scout” was that I was to always be prepared.
Meaning…whatever life threw my way I needed to be ready…
even for those out of the blue curveballs…
plus I was to always have a Plan B.

Such thinking certainly served me well during my years spent in the classroom.
Teaching high schoolers meant that one had best be prepared–always…
as well as have a guaranteed Plan B… as both were required for survival…

Now that didn’t mean that I could nor can I see into, let alone read the future.
None of us can do that…except maybe for Sister Grace down on Hwy 16 whose sign out front
of her house claims that she can indeed read the future…

But Sister Grace aside, most of us are not gifted with a clear prophecy for what the
world’s future holds.

Yet for those of us who claim the Bible as the Word of God, well,
we already have a pretty solid glimpse as to what lies ahead…
and we know that things will get pretty ugly before they get really pretty.

And it certainly doesn’t require rocket science to see that things are indeed pretty ugly all
the world ’round.

Our friend The Wee Flea has just offered his view of this new year’s future…
again, not a pretty picture…

https://theweeflea.com/2019/01/02/ten-predictions-for-2019-confusion-china-and-christ/

I think we’d all agree…politics on both a local as well as a global scale is more or less dismal.

We’ve managed to sink to such banal lows having lost any and all sense of dignity, decorum, morality,
manners, and simple etiquette.

We’ve basically come unhinged…be it left or right.

The word “apocalyptic” is used fast and lose on both sides of the aisle when referring
to the thoughts of one another…as in if we are left to one or the other…
very bad and life-threatening things will happen.

And so after reading over David’s predictions and knowing that he has been pretty much on track
and most insightful with most if not all of his observations regarding the Chruch in the 21st century
as well as for politics and life on the Western front—
I’d say that he’s once again on the money with his visions of a 2019 year.

And so this is where it comes in handy to always be prepared.

One of David’s predictions has to do with the plight of the family.
As in the continued attacks on and the demise of the traditional family as defined
by God and later by His own son.

But David was not the first to ring this clarion bell.
Both Pope John Paul II as well as Mother Teresa each saw the demise of the traditional family
as the lynchpin to humanity’s demise.

Our politics are awash.
Our global relations are strained at best, nearly severed at worst.
Our economy is a see-saw.
Our Chruch has lost her focus
And now the family unit, a basis for all things bearing the survival of humankind is
so fractured and redefined that it is no longer recognizable as to what God has sanctioned.

So it’s time to suit up and saddle up.
It’s time to put on that armor…
It’s time to get ready because I think our time of preparation is almost past…

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.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand
your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the
flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:11-17

Authority vs Power

“Another time of testing has come.
Another day of reckoning is here.
This is a testing and a reckoning…
that could prove even more decisive than earlier trials.”

Os Guinness

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(statue of St Peter stands looking over St Peter’s Square, The Vatican/ Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

“The Kingdom of God is the realm of true authority; the kingdom of Satan is seen in the tyranny of raw power.”
(God and Churchill/ Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley

In his 1931 essay, Fifty Years Hence, written long before Winston Churchill was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain, the then former Chancellor of the Exchequer penned his bleak yet precautionary predictions for the future of not only Western Civilization, but the world at large.

Churchill’s essay was written post WWI, while the destructive images of a devastated Europe raged fresh in his mind just as the rumors of new wars festered along the horizon….

“Without an equal growth of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love, Science herself may destroy all that makes human life majestic and tolerable. There never was a time when the inherent virtue of human beings required more strong and confident expression in daily life; there never was a time when the hope of immortality and the disdain of earthly power and achievement were more necessary for the safety of the children of men.”

Churchill’s opining of predictions were but a stone cast into a pond whose ripples were to reach to what he saw to be 1981…
however his words and thoughts, those ripples, continue to be relevant to our own day and time these 85 years later…well past the initial envisioned fifty years.
In fact his words ring more true today than they did in 1981.

I think we’d all agree that our times are exceedingly precarious.
Many an observer notes the almost tangible and even palpable fear that is presently running as an electric current throughout the world.
Radical Islamic Extremists,
global terrorism,
coups,
civil wars,
our own racial divide and unrest…
all of which has rocked this 21st century world.

There are many, myself included, who can’t help but to see the mirrored comparisons of a rising Adolph Hitler and his Nazi death machine compared to today’s current menacing death machine of Islamic fanaticism and its declared war or caliphate against the West and the Judeao / Christian foundation…of which has stood since the days of Constantine…

“We are confronted with another theme. It is not a new theme;
it leaps out upon us from the Dark Ages–
racial persecution, religious intolerance, deprivation of free speech,
the conception of the citizen as a mere soulless fraction of the State.
To this has been added the cult of war.
Children are to be taught in their earliest schooling the delights and profits of conquest
and aggression.
A whole mighty community has been drawn painfully, by severe privations,
into a warlike frame.”

(except of speech broadcast to Britain and the United States October 16, 1938)

Reading these words, not knowing they were spoken 78 years ago, in a different time and place, one would imagine them to be easily written today…
If we listen carefully we hear the ominous warnings…
warnings concerning the madrassas of today with their radical teachings to the youth of Islam…
we hear of the ongoing global teachings of intolerance for Western society…
we hear of the hate for the Christian and Jewish communities throughout the world…
warnings and reminders being echoed of the soulless citizens having lived or who are currently living under the blankets of communism, totalitarianism, dictatorships and the growing rise of socialism….
anything but democracy….

It would behoove us, as we stand on the cusp of the dire decisions and votes being cast…
with their often ominous results–
not only on a national level, but to the choices, votes and decisions being made globally,
to understand the difference between what is true authority verses what is power merely cloaked in a false authoritative shawl.

Authority shows itself in constructive power, whereas raw power is inevitably destructive, as Hitler and the Nazis amply demonstrated. Authority is granted from the higher to the lower, but power is seized.
Authority is given to the humble, those under authority; power is snatched by the proud, who acknowledge no authority over themselves. Authority is sustained through relationship, which is why Churchill devoted so much time to communicating and to being among the people. Raw power, on the other hand, is sustained through four control mechanisms: manipulation, condemnation, intimidation, and domination, skills that Hitler and the Nazis honed to a sharp point”

(God and Churchill / Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley)

Again, words written regarding a past time yet even more relevant today…

May we open our ears to the past as we open our eyes to the future as we currently wrestle with seeking
new governing leadership…
May we be mindful to look to those individuals who seek not to grab power but rather to those who seek to lead under the authority that has been granted from the only One who can truly grant authority to those who seek His counsel for those who which they are charged to lead….

The whole world is upborne and sustained by God’s Love, and each person was created as an act of love. This is truly incomprehensible to us because we can’t see clearly the breath, and depth, and enormous scope of such great love. God looked at each stage of Creation and said clearly that it was good: the sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the earth, the animals, the birds, the fish, and the plants. All is good, all is blessed, and all is an outpouring of Trinitarian love. When we were created, then God said that this was more than good, but very good. Very good! When will we live up to such a great calling, to such a great love: personal, intense, and giving the power to also create around us an expression of God’s goodness and love. Help us, O Lord, to fulfill Thy precious love in us and in all we touch and see.
Amen.
(offering prayer from the monks at St Isaac’s Orthodox Skete)
(http://www.skete.com/index.cfm)

3 minutes ’til

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(old wall clock in the Jameson Distillery, Midleton, Co Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The Doomsday Clock

A metaphorical clock created in 1947 by a group of scientists who all had a hand in creating the nuclear bomb.

A clock whose hands, when set at midnight, would signify the almost certain and impending demise of all mankind.

Interesting that those who helped to create “the bomb”… the very thing touted as being the be all to end all wars…in turn create a clock marking the end of mankind….hummmmm

The clock is currently set at three minutes ’til midnight.
The only other time, during its 69 year existence that the clock edged closer to the ominous midnight hour was in 1953 when it was set at 2 minutes ’til midnight.

What pray tell, one may ask, could ever be a determining criteria to the fretful moving of the two hands ever closer to or further from the dreaded bewitching midnight hour?

Well the obvious threat would be that of nuclear war or the use of nuclear weapons somewhere across the globe….
think Iran, North Korea, China, Pakistan, Israel, India, Russia, the US, ISIS….you get the picture.

Global economic stability…or lack thereof…think IMF, stock markets, world banking, black markets, recessions, depressions….

The precarious health of the environment….think global warming, global cooling, locusts, plagues, floods, erosion, pollution….

Seeing any or all of the latest headlines ringing round the world and you can get some sort of idea to the scope of “criteria” as to what makes the doomsday hands tick closer to the proverbial pumpkin turning, glass slipper seeking, fairytale stroke of midnight turned reality tale type of harbinger of cataclysmic death and destruction.

Yet I’m not really certain as to why we need a group of world renowned scientists, nobel prize winners and leaders in all things academic amassed together in some sort of board room or labortory telling us we’re almost ready to implode. One look at the news and anybody with any sense can plainly see the alarmingly rapidly increasing impending demise of mankind splattered across every news outlet from Sydney to Katmandu, from Spokane, to Liverpool, from Tibilsi to…..you get the idea.

It all reminds me of those homemade beacons of foreboding doom stuck in the ground along wayward roadsides declaring to one and all… “REPENT! THE END IS NEAR”

And yet, I’ve not noticed a run on the churches…
You know, like when the weathermen start predicting an impending storm and suddenly all of humanity descends upon every grocery store within the bullseye of the storm in order to snatch up every loaf of bread and every gallon of milk as if those two things alone are the only things that can sustain us throughout the duration of hunkering down and battening down the hatches…

One might imagine that when the rallying cry of doom is sounded by those in the know, the average citizen would feel as if he or she may want to get serious with that whole getting right with one’s God concept, as in the time has come….filling the local pews to the brim as everyone jockeys for position while seeking the saving grace before the you know what hits the fan….

Or maybe not…

Maybe everyone is just so jaded, so gloom and doomed out…so hardened of heart…
as in over it…
as in sick and tired of thinking about the dreaded end…
merely preferring to think that destruction and mayhem are either over rated or merely part of the inevitable and that there’s just not avoiding the inevitable.
I actually think one of the networks has a new show, a black comedy, coming out focusing on the very concept of living life in the wake of “the end”….

At any rate, I found the story as well as the fact that the BBC found it necessary to report that the hands are somewhat stuck…as in they aren’t moving, most interesting. It’s three minutes ’til and that seems to be it for now…no moving backwards or forwards—and depending on one’s outlook, maybe that’s a good thing…at least we’re not moving forward, with maybe a chance to go backwards…

However, given the precarious global situation I don’t think backwards is going to be an option anytime soon.
And whereas man may need reminding every once in a while that he’s sitting on the brink of total annihilation, I am reminded of many a biblical passage which addresses this rather interesting position we’ve gotten ourselves into….

…And yet, I am not running about like Henny Penny proclaiming that the sky is falling…rather I am resting in the peace of the knowledge that no matter what may or may not blow at this supposed midnight hour, my life rests in the blood of the lamb, in the saving Grace of the One True Resurrected Savior of Jesus Christ.
Come what may, I am His and He is mine—
and there is a great deal of contentment found in that one small fact…

Here’s a link to the story…
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35412454

Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10

Prognosticator, Harbinger or Hoarder

“But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand.”
― Jerome K. Jerome

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As I was attempting to get myself dressed for the day, wondering as to whether it was to be a chilly or mild day. . . debating over long sleeves or not—I was startled when suddenly both cats came running into the closet and immediately jumped up into the window.

Curious as to what they were so intently studying, I made my way to the window as well. Under the large oak tree, just on the other side of the window, was an extremely busy gray squirrel oblivious that anyone was watching his activity.

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I’ve seen this same squirrel, over the past couple of days, making himself busy as a bee under that tree–gobbling up and making off with as many acorns as he could possibly handle.

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I’ve always heard that the observation of animals, such as squirrels, as well as birds, who begin a flurry of activity of feeding or excessively gathering food, is a good indicator of a change in the weather and a good predictor of a colder than average winter. Hummmm….

By the looks of the acorns my squirrel is stuffing in his mouth, I’m a little worried we’re in for big trouble.

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Maybe I need to be looking for the sled up in the attic or checking on the heavy coats–do all the gloves have their match? Do I need new boots?! New boots, Oooo new boots, there’s an idea……

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My question however is this—how does a squirrel possibly remember where he has buried those hundreds of acorns??!! If all of this squirrel’s buried acorns actually sprouted, my yard would be a beautiful forest of lovely hardwoods in about another 150 years. What a nice thought….
But I now have more pressing issues at hand, what type of new boots do I need……

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Julie’s busy squirrel friend / 2013