Salvator Mundi

“Secularism is no friend of Christ.”
Melody Phillips, journalist for the London Times

(Salvator Mundi / Leonardo da Vinci cica 1500)

Salvator Mundi, or Savior of the world….

A haunting image is it not?
Soft, other worldly and ethereal yet also equally powerful.

Look into those eyes…

At first glance the sockets appear gauzy, almost empty or perhaps out of focus.
Yet upon further inspection, the eyes seem to be like a window, opening into a
different realm or in, they invite the viewer to look further
and venture deeper to someplace else.

This particular painting by Leonardo just set a record sale at Christie’s Auction
House, fetching the highest amount ever paid for a single painting…
approximately 450 million dollars.
The buyer is so far undisclosed.

And there is an entire post alone waiting to be written about this particular painting,
of this particular version….but that is for another day—
for today we have more important issues to discuss.

Savior of the World—-
that is indeed, for the Christian believer, Jesus Christ.

He was not simply a moral teacher, a philosopher or Jewish rabbi…
He was, just as He said and just He remains today—
The Savior of the World.

He is of one point to the three pointed triangle of the Trinity.

It is through Him and Him alone that anyone is to be saved.

It is not through good works, it is not through thoughtful actions….
it is only through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Therefore to repent.

To die unto self.

To believe in His Resurrection and His saving Grace.


As in nothing done by one’s self…for Grace is beyond self.

Saved from self, from sin, from death…..

That is the summation of the Gospel.

The Bible, particularly the New Testament is the Holy inspired, written retelling
regarding that summation—the Good News.

It is the lynchpin of Christianity.

There is no Heaven, no Salvation, no Grace, no Hope without Jesus Christ.

He is the only way.

And yet today we have mainline churches who are pushing, have pushed,
that one key integral component to Christianity to the side.

It has become secondary to their now all consuming main focus of secularism.

For those who adhere to the progressive Christian narrative,
they are the ones who have decided to make an alliance with those who
push for all things secular…

Progressive, uptick, Christians who now believe and embrace the stance that
the world would have them embrace….and that is to see Christianity in a 21st century,
more modern image.

Yet what they fail to understand is that such a “friendship” will be the death of the Christian Church as we know it.

In the latest interview of Gavin Ashenden on Anglican Unscripted, he makes this
point perfectly clear.

Bishop Ashenden notes that the “anti Christian Secular Narrative is being
swallowed whole as if it is Christianity—
and it is most certainly not”

That narrative being the open acceptance of same sex marriage, openly gay clergy,
the embracing of transgenderism, newly defined family units…
all the while making it clearly known that, anyone opposed to such, shall be
labeled as a hate mongerer…anti love, anti accepting, anti whatever…..
never mind that the lies offered up as a new progressive gospel run counter to
the actual word of God.

In steps a woman named Lorna Asworth.

Lorna is Saskatchewan by birth and was raised as a Mennonite.
But as Life has its way, she married a Brit who was Anglican and so
the UK and the Church of England have now been her home ever since.

That is until most recently.

Lorna has been an active member of the laity who works very closely with the clergy
as she has risen in the lay ranks within the working body of the Church of England.

Yet when someone like Lorna tenders her resignation from said working body of the
Church of England, such a resignation, one would dare assume,
would not, should not, be cause for some sort of henny penny
the sky is falling sort of reaction…yet that is exactly what has happened.

This mild mannered wife, mother and church lay worker who considers herself
a conservative Evangelical Anglican has been active on the Archbishop’s
Council as well as serving in the General Synod for the past 12 years,
has found herself at the center of a growing maelstrom and as somewhat of
a poster child if you will, for the Orthodox voice of the Church.

Lorna recently granted an interview with Anglican Unscripted where she explains her decision to ‘abdicate’ her position from the Church’s working body as
she explains what is currently happening to the Church.

She explains that the Church has lost its way.
It has left behind those who continue to claim the Gospel as the true teaching of the Church. “The Glory of the Lord has departed as the Church of England
is moving outside the presence of God.”

“There are now two different Religious communities.
One is rooted in Christ and its right to ask for the Holy Spirit.
The Second is not—and is where Glory has disappeared.”

Lorna verbalizes so clearly what so many others now feel.
“What am I to do?”
I didn’t leave them, they left me”

She spoke of meetings where those more conservative members would actually
cite scripture to reinforce a point only to be met by rolling eyes and even jeers
from the more progressive attendees.

She cites that the Church is no longer talking about Jesus and the saving message
of Christ as she actually uses the word heresy when describing what is taking place
within the Church.

And in order for the Church to save herself from the inevitable implosion,
Lorna warns that there must be repentance, from the top down.
“We have lost what it is to fear (respect in some translations) the Lord.
If you fear the Lord, you will fear nothing else…and we have lost that.”

And so we leave it to a Jewish woman, one who leans a bit right in her
journalistic style, to write an article for the London Times noting that the departure
of Lorna Asworth from the Church is putting the Church of England on a trajectory
involved in self destruction.

As in it appears everyone gets it but the Church herself….

What more can there be?

“There’s more to getting to where you’re going then
just knowing there’s a road.”

Joan Lowery Nixon

(entry way to a home on Mackinac Island, MI / Julie Cook /2017)

Standing in front of the locked gate,
looking through the cascading tunnel of hydrangeas,
one’s view falls upon a single door.

There is much to be assumed by standing on this other side,
this outside of the locked gate.

Whereas there is no sign stating otherwise, most passerbys would assume that
attempting to open the gate would be considered taboo, a violation, a no no.
There is just something there, with the gate and emptiness from the closed
door, that lacks an invitation or welcome or adventure.

Staring at the door, located at the far end of the walkway,
one does not know if there are residents on the opposite side of the closed door.

Is anyone at home?

Those standing at the gate, staring at the door,
have no idea as to what the interior of the home looks like.
Is it pretty?
Does it have a lovely view?
Is it a permanent home or a vacation home?

So many questions and even more assumptions from simply staring through a
narrow opening while standing before a closed gate.

One might assume, given the mystique found in the almost tunnel-like entry
leading to the yard and walkway, that there is something almost
otherworldly here.
One might assume from the location of the house, which sits on the shores
of the great lake, steps from a historic town, that someone rich and or
famous may live here.

Yet no one can really say…

It is a mystery only heightened by the curious yet lovely sweeping floral
entry gate.

The house… could it be actually vacant, even empty…
or perhaps waiting on the market…
Yet the current condition of the exterior does not appear to signal empty.

So given one’s curious thoughts, generated by merely passing by such
a gate to such a home, all the while being given over to the easily assumed and
imaginative wandering of what could be…
all the while the open-ended assumptions seem much greater than the factual…

So why then, when presented with the idea of a God and of the Resurrection of
His son, the Savior…why would anyone simply assume negating such a presentation,
imagining it be impossible and or implausible when totally uncertain about the facts of truth?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…

2 Timothy 3:16

world needs…

“Christ came into the world to save sinners, not good people,
and your unworthiness is your greatest claim for His salvation.”

Hannah Whitall Smith

(a buckeye butterfly enjoys the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2017)

You thought I was going to say love…didn’t you…?
As in what the world needs now is love sweet love…

But that wasn’t what I was going to say.

Peace, maybe…
that must have been it…
the world needs peace….

But I wasn’t going to say that either…
However it would have been a good second guess…

Yet both love and peace would be two nice things to have said…
As the thought of joining of hands, the locking arms with our neighbors,
as we stand in one large global circle singing kum-bi-ya….

However the world needs more than just love and more than just peace.

Believe it or not,
it needs something much greater….

For both love and peace, be they each a most noble and grand need,
can be both fickled and fleeting.
For given what we know about man and how he, she, we, operate…
both peace and love soon give way to the darker sides of all things opposite…
to the opposite yang to man’s often positive ying.

What the world needs is a Savior.

Yes, you read correctly,
a Savior…
Not a hero, not a great leader, not something fleeting or shallow or even empty…

As every atheist, agnostic and every other religion that disavows Jesus of Nazareth as
anything other than either a fable or some benign profit,
just uttered a collective groan…

However we must note that there has yet to anything or anyone who has ever made the
same difference or impact in the lives of any man as the difference made by living
a life in Christ…

A real, self surrendering life…
And if you have yet to try such…
you can argue against such all day long…that is until you try doing it…

For this is not the life of the in name only lip service or of a life lived filled with
the mere fluff and stuff of overt materialism, or the angst of protest and militantism,
or the emptiness of worldly dissatisfaction…

but this is a life lived totally sacrificed of ego and self…

It seems too easy to call you “Savior”,
Not close enough to call you “God”
So as I sit and think of words I can mention
to show my devotion

“I want to fall in love with You”


“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because
God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

C.S. Lewis

“Out of the depths, I cry to you, Lord”
Psalm 130:1

(Pope Francis walks through the gate at Auschwitz. Photograph: Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock)

This past July,
July 29th to be exact,
Pope Francis journeyed to Oświęcim,
a small industrial town in southern Poland…
He next ventured a bit further to the small village of Brzezinka…

He had come to Poland to meet with an excited and joyful throng of young people
who had journeyed to Krakow in order to celebrate World Youth Day.

Yet it was to Oświęcim and Brzezinka that Francis made a solomon detour.
For in this once obscure and quiet area of Poland, 76 years ago,
the first of 23 concentration camps was opened to receive its first prisoners of war…
This was the beginning of Hitler’s incomprehensible final solution…
this was Auschwitz…

There were major camps…camps where exterminations took place,
of which were scattered throughout Poland,
And there were sub-camps…camps where hard manual labor was the focus.
But it was at Auschwitz that an estimated that 1.5 million people
died during the 5 years it operated.

Six million jews and an additional 11 million individuals
lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis, most of which died in the camps.

And it is estimated that 80 million people lost their
lives during the course of the war.

Pope Francis came to Auschwitz to reflect and to remember…
to remember what the world must never forget…

Yet like all of us who claim Jesus as our Savior,
that Savior who, when nailed to a cross, lifted
his face toward Heaven and asked His father to forgive…
to forgive those who knew not what they were doing…

to forgive us…all of us…
over and over and over…
for our egregious sins…
sins that are unfathomable,
sins that are horrid,
sins that are unspeakable,
sins that are unthinkable,
sins that are inhumane….

All of which leaves us…you, me, the Pope…
charged with that same living and dying example…
to forgive…to forgive those who have sinned against us,
just as we have sinned against others…

It is the most difficult and challenging action of the human ego…

Seventy-five years ago, when Francis was a four-year-old boy
called Jorge living in Buenos Aires,
this cell at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp was occupied by prisoner number 16770,
Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar.

When 10 fellow inmates were selected to die in punishment for the escape of another prisoner,
Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered his life instead of that of Franciszek Gajowniczek,
who had cried out in anguish for his wife and children. Kolbe’s offer was accepted.
He was thrown into the starvation bunker for two weeks and finally given a
lethal injection on 14 August 1941.

The pope came to Auschwitz on Friday to pray in silent memory of Kolbe and the
other 1.1m people the Nazis exterminated there. Jews made up the vast majority-
960,000, including 185,000 children–
but thousands of Polish Catholics, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war were also put to death.

He had signaled his intention to visit the memorial “without speeches, without crowds”.
His simple plan was:
And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.”

In the shadows of the cell, his long silence was an eloquent tribute to the suffering of so many and a profound condemnation of evil.
At the end of his prayers, he raised his head, crossed himself,
stood and left.

“Lord, have pity on your people.
Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”

Pope Francis

“do not seek the because”

“Do not seek the because –
in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.”

Anaïs Nin

(sea oats / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

My life is no different from anyone else…
there are both highs and lows, ups and downs…

We all experience both the positive and negative moments in life…
as neither one discriminates…
Yet it seems that the negative moments will often last a life time…

Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we are immune from getting…
or at times, even despondent…

For believers, simply put, are human just like everyone else…
Believers are humans who believe in God as father and Omnipotent Creator
and that His son overcame Death in His resurrection…

And as humans, we just do the best we can getting through the day to day living of life.

But it is because of the very fact that we are believers that the non believers,
those who are angry at God or those who are merely skeptical…
begin pointing the naysaying finger at us when our lives becomes bleak or tragic

It is the age old accusatory “where is your God now” sort of rhetoric…

And if the truth be told, there are times we wonder the same question…
because we are, remember, human…

And as I was laying on the floor again this morning, as the pain in my back and leg were again
a bit more than I could bear…
as yes, tears, rolled down the side of my face in pain and in frustration…
as my heart was equally as heavy for what Dad and I
have been dealing with these many weeks now….

I recalled having watched a You Tube video yesterday of a young man
waiting out in Houston at MD Anderson, waiting to undergo chemotherapy.

I don’t know this young man—but from the video I gathered he has some sort of cancer,
he is a young husband and father,
that he’s from Atlanta,
that he’s been waiting for chemo
and that he is an ardent believer in the Risen Christ…

He shared in the brief video his spiritual journey as of late–
the prayers offered for and over him.
The words that have been shared in multiple settings, all by different individuals,
but all the same words none the less.
He mentioned a couple of Psalms that he’d been keying in on…
Psalms that I wrote down with the intention of turning to those same Psalms today….

I was encouraged by his own journey.
That he obviously wanted to be healed…prayed for such…
but that he also knew that God is a Sovereign God…
and no matter what the outcome…it is in God’s hands…

And I was stuck that he is finding gratitude in and for all sorts of things…
He is being grateful and thankful even while life is proving dire, frustrating and grim…

As we are reminded that in all things we are to rejoice, offering our praise and thanksgiving.
That in those moments of struggle, pain and suffering we are to utter the words—we may not
necessarily feel them, but we can still utter them, allowing God to do with them as He may….

I was also reminded that it is in our distress that we are drawn closer to God.
We don’t seem to “need” Him as much when life is golden…
as we tend to neglect the relationship…
It isn’t until we find ourselves in dire straights that we cry out,
like a frightened child in the night,
and always, He answers in our despair, He is there…despite our fickled ways…
He will always be there…waiting…..

And it is during those hard-to-grasp situations of life and death that
skeptics and non believers alike circle like buzzards…
as they look for a Lazarus or an empty tomb—
and when they don’t see such,
they collectively shout
“HA, we knew it…imposter, phony, sham!”

So after reading a few posts by friends this morning, after reading those Psalms that young man sited,
after reading the words of both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Malcolm Muggeridge each regarding
both life, living, dying and death…
I again, felt a peace…despite laying on the floor in the midst of despair…

I may be hurting both physically and emotionally.
I may shed tears of frustration, depression and sorrow….
but I will not be broken nor deterred for I have the promise of a Sovereign God.

I was told that I should build a post around the following comment I left this morning for a fellow blogger…my friend Wally…
Of which I suppose I already had to some degree…

Here is Wally’s morning’s post as my comment follows…

“it is hard and is not easy…but we are told time and time again—
to look to God in all things—good and bad, painful and joyful–
for God is found not only in the good, the joy and the happiness but He is there,
even more so, in the hard and difficult, the misery and suffering…
and this is where those who are not believers or those who reside in the anger
and sorrow keep wanting to point the finger of “if God is a God of Love and Omnipotent…
then why the hurting, why the unfairness, why the suffering…”

and it is there Wally in your very words and the words of James, so led by the Holy Spirit, that because God IS in everything…then we may find our HOPE!!

The things of this world…those good and those bad,
are all but temporary and they all point us back to Him—in our lack of knowledge and lack of true omnipotent knowledge, we cannot know, we cannot see how all things…
That all things, work together in God’s plan and God’s time—
yes there is Evil very much busy and very much at work…
working so very hard to counter the Benevolence of a Loving Creator…
but the thing is…despite the dark one’s vain attempts to derail us,
derailing our faith, our hope—
he can’t, he never can—
for his is a losing battle…
for our’s is the Victory in Christ Jesus!”

All of this brings us back, almost full circle,
to the the beginning of this post with the quote byAnaïs Nin—
for there is no understanding, no explanation, no reasoning, no answers, no because…
to be found in the Love offered to us by our God….

friends and mates

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.
I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

―Jane Austen

(the latest friend in the dammit family / Julie Cook / 2016)

Over the course of the past weekend, my son and his wife moved into their new apartment.
They did so with the help of group of friends.
Going from a house in the suburbs to a smaller apartment in the city will naturally take some adjusting,
however I think their level of excitement is far exceeding any need for adjustment.

I mention that they had a group of friends helping because that got me thinking.
Whereas my dear friends, or better yet mates, in the UK would naturally say
that it was my son’s mates who helped him out…
with mates referring to his friends,
I simply use the word friends…

All variances of semantics I suppose.

Yet when hearing the word friends referred to as mates,
I find that I actually prefer using the word mates as opposed to friends.

Friends come in all sorts of varying degrees of difference.
Close friends,
dear friends,
intimate friends,
all of which constitute falling under the one umbrella of the collective word friends.
Some close, some really close, some not so close…

In my opinion however, the word mate, or the plural form mates, seems to refer to a tighter knit connection.
A closer level of familiarity and knowledge.

And when it comes to moving house—
especially with moving from a larger house to a smaller apartment almost 70 miles away,
it takes a really tight knit group of “friends,” hence mates,
volunteering their precious weekend time to drive back and forth,
hauling, lifting, toting, dissembling, reassembling the possessions of another….

As perhaps one’s mates come with a certain level of deeper commitment,
whereas ones friends fluctuate.

And of course in this country we refer to a spouse as a mate.
As in a pair.
As in a help mate.
As in soul mate.
As in a union of two becoming one.

So once again, mate having a tighter connection than just that of friend.

And as we so often refer to our Savior as our friend…
having the relationship with Jesus, as Lord and Savior is anything but that of a friend…
Despite hymns singing to the contrary and many who reference Him as their best friend…
there is difference between friend and God….

For the Xristósis, the Christos, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ…
is far greater than that of friend.
He and His relationship with us, those who claim Him as God,
exceeds the confine of friendship..

Being both God and Spirit, as He is of the Triune Godhead,
He commands so much more than our mere friendship…

Rather He commands our awe and wonderment…
And our reverence and our homage.

For He is not a mere friend,
not even a mate…
but rather a Sovereign God…

A God who cares about both our physical and emotional wants and needs,
yet deserves our reverence, our wonderment, our praise, our worship…

It is good to have friends, even better to have great mates…
but most importantly it behooves us to have a Savior, who gave His very life
for each and every last one of us…..

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Bucket list

“I got a theory a person ought to do everything it’s possible to do before he dies,
and maybe die trying to do something that’s really impossible.”

Patricia Highsmith

I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes, so live not in your yesterdays,
no just for tomorrow, but in the here and now.
Keep moving and forget the post mortems; and remember,
no one can get the jump on the future.

Carl Sandburg

(antique water bucket / Julie Cook / 2016)

We all have them…
Those very public or very private wishes, dreams desires…
otherwise known as a bucket list.
You know, those things we want to do, see or accomplish before kicking the proverbial bucket.

Some of those desires are grandiose,
While some are demur and simple.

Many of them include travel, going, doing, seeing…
Be it….
The Great Wall of China
Climbing Machu Picchu
Riding a camel to see the Pyramids of Giza
Climbing Mt. Everest…or maybe just any mountain will do.
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef
Going on Safari
Visiting a rainforest…

Maybe it’s meeting a president, a famous sports figure, a celebrity.
Maybe it’s writing the next great American novel
or maybe it’s doing something to be remembered by…

I suspect a bucket list should be somewhat special, even monumental.

Not so much a trite list for bragging rights to be ticked off one by one…
But rather something that will be life altering awesome…
Life transforming…

A list, that I believe, should consist of only one primary event…
For there is truly only one such event in one’s life that is worthy,
dare I say necessary, of doing…

That being…
a meeting,
a befriending,
with the subsequent relinquishing of self…

The opening of ones heart…
The giving up of all that is which weighs one down…

The meeting of ones Savior…
Ones lifeline.
Ones Hope.
Ones Salvation.

And allowing Him to help carry any remaining buckets….

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Psalm 55:22