poppycock

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous,
the sensible man hardly anything.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(icicles along the fence / Julie Cook / 2017)

Tears.
One of the various lubricants disbursed throughout the bodies of most mammals.

A physiological function to keep the eyes from drying out.
A physiological reaction to dust and debris.
A natural wash to help rid the eye of any invasive object, particle or fume.

A bodily function that is in direct reaction to a trigger that is perceived as invasive.
Very similar to that of a reflex or a contraction…
as in a response to something else…

Yet this reaction or reflex, for humans, may actually be both physiological
as well as psychological…as in emotional.

As in tears may be shed not only as a defense or mere physiological reactionary necessity,
but they may be shed due to a psychological stimuli such as pain, sorrow or even joy.

A dual action.

And whereas other living creatures cry out, howl or groan when in pain or traumatic suffering,
humans appear to be the only living creatures who shed tears due to emotional distress.

And for those who see no correlation between tears serving a dual purpose in humans verses
other living creatures, caring not to question or even wonder as to the apparent distinction…
preferring rather to eschew the obvious, this one more unexplainable nuance of human beings…
as a result of something merely developmental or evolutionary…
denying any sort of Divine touch….

I simply respond,
poppycock.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away

Revelation 21:4

Should I go or should I stay…

Darlin’ you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

Lyrics by the Clash

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(springtime visitor / Julie Cook / 2016)

“The call goes out,
and without any further ado the obedient deed of the one called follows.
The disciple’s answer is not a spoken confession of faith in Jesus.
Instead, it is the obedient deed.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Discipleship

They were busy…
preoccupied with the business of the day.
Counting, looking, figuring, chatting, organizing and arranging.
This day was like any other day…
just like the day before…
And it was safely assumed to be pretty much the same tomorrow.
Life innocently being life.

Friends, customers, coworkers were all coming and going…
each equally busy with the business of the day.
No one sensed that change was in the air…

Was the sun shining or was it overcast…?

It was most likely warm, dry and sunny…
Yet it appears the weather was not to be a factor…
Change was to come with or without the shining sun.

He was accustomed to folks passing by his booth.
Some would stop, having a need of his services, others would pass taking no notice.
Maybe that’s why he looked twice when the stranger approached him.

Was he tired of his business?
Had life dealt him one hand too many?
Or was it something else.
What could it have been about this stranger to have made him simply walk away.

He was a Jew who was accustomed to working with Greek speaking Romans…
yet took the money of the Hebrew Jews.
Why was this stranger, who was also a Jew,
who obviously had no businesses with taxes or a collector of such,
now stopping by his booth?

They had all observed a conversation between the two men.
No exchange of money passed hands…
Just what appeared to be a causal conversation…
Yet what could this stranger have said,
causing Levi to get up, leaving his money and his papers to simply walk away?

He walked away from everything he had known.
His business, his associates, his income, his dealings, his family…
He left it all behind, at his booth, in order to go with this stranger.
“Was that not the Galilean?” one was heard to ask…

We know there was an encounter…as well as a request…

Come…leave…follow…

That simple.
There was no haggling, no convincing, no defending, no arrangements.
Just a simple agreement and in turn, a walking away from the known…
while now entering into the unknown…

It is one thing when asked to simply respond with a causal “Yes. I believe.”
Or even a “yes I can” or “yes I will…”
It takes far greater courage to actually get up, leave, go and do…

The question we must all ask ourselves today–are we willing to get up, leave, go and do?

As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
Mark 2:14

Costly Justification

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(flowering quince / Julie Cook / 2016)

‘It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—“you were bought with a price”(1 Cor 6:20) and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship Vol 4 pp 45

We have honed our craft both you and I….
As we have become that which we justify…

For within each justification lies…
the crime,
the hating,
the sentence,
the lying,
the hurting,
the bombing,
the cheating,
the policy,
the stealing,
the taking,
the death,
and even the murder…

Echoed are the causal observations…
“Twas a crime of passion”
“It was a justifiable homicide”
“It was taken in order that they could eat”
“It was hidden for their own good…”
“It was stolen in order to pay…”

There are…
The interestingly tragic assisted suicides…
The abortions due to untimely pregnancies…
The surreal justifiable shootings…
The acceptable culture of death…
The wars to end all wars…
The nuclear deterrents….

Every human act can be justified into being correct…

It was…
the right decision…
a necessary evil…
the only option…

How quickly it rolls off the tongue, as it slips easily from consciousness.
There is no remorse, no guilt, no real sorrow…
because it was something that had to be…

The justification of and for every action and reaction of mankind…

And yet how does one justify the free offering of ones only child…
In order that others may live…

One word….

Grace….

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—-not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Tarnished

“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean,
who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

Raymond Chandler

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(polishing a few silver pieces / Julie Cook / 2015)

There once was a time, several generations ago, when young brides-to-be would receive silver items as wedding gifts. Sterling silver, as well as silver-plate, trays, bowls, silverware, etc. all most often monogramed. It was all the rage. Girls would register at various stores for a particular silver pattern such as something produced by the likes of Reed and Barton, Gorham, Tiffany, Wallace to name but a few. Gifts would range from place settings, a single serving piece, picture frames, ornaments, candle sticks. . .with the list going on and on.

As each generation seems to set its own mark on the world, it appears that today’s modern day brides-to-be are a bit more practical in their choices of what sorts of gifts they’d like to receive. Coffee machines–as in cappuccino, espresso, single cup. . .towels–both kitchen and bath, sheets, glasses, plates, bar ware, cookware, outdoor serving items, candles, goodies form Crate and Barrel, William Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Macys as their lists go on and on.

By the time I got married, almost 35 years ago, silver was not as popular a wedding gift as it was in, say, my mother’s day. The cost of sterling silver had begun a slow assent upwards and the truth be told, the upkeep and usability of silver was quickly loosing its appeal and practicability. Shiny pretty silver certainly has a wow factor but keeping that brilliant mirror surface sheen is another matter entirely.

We all know from basic chemistry that certain metals, when exposed to various substances, can change. In the case of silver, especially sterling silver, a mixture of air and hydrogen sulfide turns the surface of silver items, at first a cloudy dull grey gold which will, if not wiped away, eventually turn black.

Tarnish luckily is not a permeant problem. However if salt is added to the mix, a silver piece really has problems! The salt will corrode the surface, eating into several layers of the silver, pitting the item–with the damage sadly being permanent.

Polishing silver, in order to remove the tarnish, is an arduous painstaking task. It is a labor intensive, time consuming and messy process. When the silver piece is polished, using a cream paste and soft cloth, a thin micro layer of the surface is taken away as the tarnish resides only on the top layer—the other layers remain intact. Rust on the other hand is a corrosive reaction on certain metals which eats through layer upon layer, eventually destroying the metal.

Tarnish is often what deters folks these days from wanting to buy silver items. The upkeep in today’s busy, everybody’s working world, is enough to turn anyone away from the beautiful things found in today’s antique and specialty stores.

As we all know. . .tarnish will always comes back.

I’m a lot like silver.

Being exposed to certain elements, I eventually succumb to the effects of “tarnish.” I lose my brilliant surface appearance, my beauty fades as I eventually turn a very dull lifeless black.

I allow the oxidizing agents of the world to affect my sheen and brilliance. I become sullied and dulled by the exposure to negative elements. Not merely the eating and drinking of the wrong elements for my betterment, but to the more shady and insidious elements. . .those negative things which I expose my eyes, ears, heart and mind to. . .be it certain forms of entertainment such as music, television, movies, even down to the books and magazines I choose to read. . .I allow negativity, violence, foul useless language, sexual promiscuity and selfish gratification to permeate my world. I am lured away from that which helps to keep the tarnish at bay.

God looks and sees a once brilliantly shining creation dulled and darkened by the exposure of time away from Him. . .His word, His people, His realm.
My perception dims.
I can’t distinguish that which is positive and that which is the negative.
Exposure to the world verses exposure to my Christian spirituality. . .as sadly I choose, even often unknowingly, the world.

I allow an often tired body and mind to choose the easy way. . .the path of less resistance to dominate and take over. In order for me to choose God and His desires, it calls upon certain factors such as vigilance, diligence, observance, prayer, fasting, communion, reading and digesting the Word, healing, confession, even praise—often times not easily felt or desired. Sometimes it all seems to be counter to my mood, my disposition, my feelings, my abilities, my strength. . .a conscious choice and determination must take hold. . .

Yet thankfully God does not tire of polishing or re-polishing.
He doesn’t mind the time and effort spent.
He doesn’t mind the elbow grease required to wipe away the heavy layer of darkness which encases my entire being.

Slowly but surely the black is lovingly removed as the tiny areas of brilliance begin to reemerge.
God holds me, enfolds me within His welcoming hands. He gently, yet determinedly, focuses in order to rub over and over those negative tarnished areas of my heart and soul.
Allowing the brilliance, that is His creation. . .
to shine forth, yet once again. . .

“For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day.
Luke 17:24