you just might get what you want

“The lost enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded
and are therefore self-enslaved.”

C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain


(pretty little dahlia, not mine however—Julie Cook / 2017)

There it is again…
another quote from C.S. Lewis, each from the same book I referenced the other day—
Two random quotes that just so happened my way…???
Each from the same source???!!!…
Coincidence?????
I should think not….

So yes, I’ve ordered the book.

This morning I actually did something I would not have normally done.
I carved out time to sit and listen…
For you see I am a hit the ground running sort of individual—
a morning person who does her best work, thinking, cleaning, sorting, writing…
in the morning….
So for me to stop, sit and listen is a pretty big deal…
this as I often equate my sitting with wasting time…
as in I need to be about the task of doing whatever it is I need to be doing….

40 precious minutes afforded to listening to a sermon that was delivered Sunday at a
church in Scotland.
Now granted I would have much rather been in Scotland at the Church in person,
but an audio link in a blog post was as close as I was going to be getting any time soon.

It was a sermon delivered by Pastor David Robertson,
pastor of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, Scotland
and author of the Wee Flea Blog—a blog I’ve referenced before.

Pastor Robertson delivered a sermon on Romans 1:24-27.
A passage that just so happens to encapsulate Paul’s relaying of God’s thoughts of
human sexuality.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual
impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the
truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather
than the Creator—who is forever praised.
Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.
Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were
inflamed with lust for one another.
Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the
due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:24-27

Now I won’t rehash the sermon as I’ve provided a link if you’d like to either read
Pastor Robertson’s overview or actually listen to his sermon…
What the Bible Really Says About Sex and Sexuality

And it certainly was not my intent today to write a post on human sexuality but rather the
hand of God in our oh so screwed up world.
Of which I will do shortly, sexuality aside.

Yet I was struck by several quotes and remarks made by the good pastor as he actually
delivered this sermon before the world experienced Manchester’s horror.

His delivering of a sermon on such a topic was just happenstance as the passage was
just what came next in the study he had been presenting to his parish.
But it also came on the forefront of an important vote this week by the Church of
Scotland regarding its stance on same sex unions /marriages….
as in it, the Church, wishes to “keep” up with Scottish Law on the issue…
…oh if our Churches didn’t feel such a need….

(http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news_and_events/news/archive/articles/general_assembly_allows_ministers_and_deacons_in_same-sex_marriages)

Yet I think a key statement in all of the sermon was, for me, that
“God is handing us over to what we want and what we have chosen”

Not that He is abandoning us or inflicting upon us but rather He is giving us over, freely,
to what it is we have wanted and chosen….
With that being a life of blatant disregard for His word.
For “we have exchanged God’s word for a lie.”

Yep, a lie.

As in now we’ve turned everything into something other than His word,
as is no longer His word but rather our restructuring, rewriting, redirecting.
Our word in order to make things fit all nice and neat for ourselves.
Fitting the rules for living into what we feel are these changing times…

And Heaven forbid that The Word of God should stand the test of time because obviously
anyone can see that He meant for us to switch things up as we culturally saw fit…
Meaning… as our culture changes and our desires and acceptance all change, then surely
God meant to be fluid…moving with said times.
As surely He would need to modernize that Word of His in order to accommodate our new
acceptances and beliefs in what is now right but once was oh so wrong….
so yeah, we best come up with a new translation, a refutation or a new interpretation to that
tired old Word of His.

Yeah, right…..
as I think we call that progressivism….
and God calls that disobedience….

One thing Pastor Robertson noted was that Jesus did not come to earth in order to confuse us.
He didn’t come to rewrite scripture.. to make it more applicable to the times—
quite the contrary—He came to fulfill the scripture.

So on this little thought, I will leave us today…
Leaving us all to ponder the notion of what it is that we have wanted and
what it is we have chosen…
And just so we can be clear as to what it is we’ve been handed over to…
as somehow I think it just might be related to living a life of being
freely left to our own devices…

But they say,
“It is no use! We will follow our own plans,
and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.”

Jeremiah 18:12

compartmentalized

“…what you don’t believe strongly enough to teach doesn’t do you any good.”
A.W. Tozer

DSCN2541
(Bonaventure Cemetery , Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

Here’s the thing…
The thing about us…
Those of us who profess to be Christians…

We have a penchant for keeping our little worlds nice and tidy.

We lean our preferences to keeping things neat and overtly orderly.
We don’t like to mix things up too much.
And we really prefer keeping our church life, well, at church.

Oh we might give to that homeless beggar whose path we cross as we’re headed here and there.
We might reluctantly serve on this or that committee.
We’ll send in that monthly tithe check to the church…
a little tax write off you know guised in the form of a “donation”
We’ll take the kids to the Wednesday night pot luck or the occasional youth group gathering.

Chances are our daily conversations with colleagues and friends has us talking about what happened last night on…
The Batchelor…
What sort of Oscar shindig will we be putting together…
Or…that we actually can’t believe who got kicked off American Idol, The Voice, Dancing With The Stars or of that so called Island…

Sundays’ Gospel lesson or that killer line from the sermon most likely isn’t causing our tongues to wag as we simply don’t have that same sort of zeal to share those amazing moments as we do the more trival….for if the truth be known, we can’t much remember what last Sunday’s sermon was about, or what verse we even read this morning during our wee hour devotional or we can’t exactly really recall the last time we prayed…I’m talking really prayed.
Not the rote Lord’s prayer…not grace at a meal—I’m talking down on your knees, head bowed before an amazing Omnipotent Creator sort of prayed….

This is because we, those of us living in this western civilization of ours, tend to compartmentalize our lives.
Each and everything in our little world(s) has it’s place.
There is the social side of our lives, the school side, the business side, the serious side, the “religious” side, the fun side…
every aspect has it’s place…
and some of those aspects are only afford a limited amount of playing time.

That’s why when we read such news stories such as yesterday’s coverage that Iran is paying the families of its martyrs, those who have died while raging some sort of havoc (aka jihad) on Israel a nice $7000. equivalent for the “sacrifice” of their loved ones in the name of all things Iranian and Muslim…
as it seems that that recent US billions of dollars gift is now being put to good use….

Yet that sort of story just passes over our consciousness for the brief moment as our eyes quickly scan to the next headline…moving on to reading the more pressing latest weather updates.

We don’t see a correlation between our neat little compartmentalized worlds and the constant torment of Israel by the Muslim world as being relevant. We don’t recall God’s word about the Christian responsibility of honoring Israel.
We rationalize that’s over there.
That’s their business, not ours and if the truth be told,
we don’t really care for how they do their business.
We think “leave well enough alone…you live your life, let them live theirs as we live ours…”
simple as that.

We’ve forgotten that little parable that Jesus told of the vineyard (Matthew 21:33-46).
You remember…
You know that little story of the “bad” tenants who schemed to milk the landowner for all he was worth… eventually, after having beaten and killed the landowners representatives, they in turn thrashed, beat and killed the owners own son…thinking that would force the landowners hand in their favor…
And do you remember how Jesus then went on to explain that it, the land of inheritance (aka the vineyard), will all be taken away form the ungrateful ones (i.e. the ungrateful, unfruitful nation) and given to a different more grateful group (i.e.the grateful fruitful nation)—one that actually honors what it has been given—the nation that heeds to the word of God—

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” (Matthew 21:43-44)

Kind of like us today in the US…as we no longer heed God’s word as Sovereign…and the thing is, very few who call themselves Christians care to speak up…speaking up about our responsibilities as Christians…let alone taking on those very responsibilities and living them out with unabashed enthusiasm.

Compartmentalized verses the truth of Salvation…hummmmm

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Romans 1:16

“Awaken in my soul a great longing for you. . .”

As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you O God
Psalm 42:1

DSC00080
(a group of deer nibbling out back / Julie Cook / 2015)

I picked up a nice little new book during the holidays, Meditating On The Word by Dietrich Bonhoeffer–translated by David McI. Gracie

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as we remember, was the young German Lutheran pastor who was arrested in 1943 and was subsequently sent to a Nazi death camp for his part in the resistance movement and attempted assassination of Hitler— eventually being executed by hanging on the personal order of Adolph Hitler just two weeks before Hitler’s own suicide.

David Gracie is an Episcopal priest who currently works for the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

The gist of this little book is to offer instruction to the faithful on how to utilize the Psalms when practicing and honing the act and art of meditation as a prayer tool.
The book reflects on the importance Bonhoeffer placed on meditation, as he often instructed his young seminarians at Finkenwalde to make a daily habit of at least an hour’s time spent in meditation and prayer, remarking that “every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me”

Last evening I was reading the chapter on Psalm 42 which begins with a sermon Bonhoeffer preached on the 6th Sunday after Easter, June 2, 1935.
It opens with the first line of the Psalm. . .“As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you O God. . .” The following excerpt is “translated” by Father Gracie who chose to inject the use of the feminine pronoun—which normally I would prefer the more traditional masculine but in this instance, I found it most personal and reflective as it seemed to echo my own thoughts. . .

“Have you heard the bellowing of a hart penetrating a cold autumn night in the forest? The whole forest trembles under its longing cry. Here a human soul cries out, not for some earthly good, but for God. A devout person, from whom God is far removed, longs for the God of grace and salvation. She knows the God to whom she cries. She is not the seeker after the unknown God who will never find anything. She once experienced God’s help and nearness. Therefore, she does not call into the void. She calls for her God. We can only rightly seek God when God has already revealed himself to us, when we have found him before.
Lord God, awaken in my soul a great longing for you.
You know me and I know you.
Help me to seek you and find you. Amen

I was struck by the correlation between the cries of a hart, and the cries of a human soul. The use of the word hart is a Medieval word used simply as another term for what we would refer to as a stag or deer. I can’t say that our local white tail deer “cry out” as the description notes but I do think that the bugling of an elk would be more along the lines of such a reverberating sound, such as a hart may have made, which would certainly penetrate the stillness of any autumn night.

I can only image the anguishing sound of a human soul crying out loud to an unseen God, as I have been known to offer my own fair share of crying out, or perhaps more like screaming out, into a void.
Yet the key here is that my cries did not fly out into a void, as it often seems during such a raw moment of emotion, but rather out towards an omnipotent God.

To be in anguish and / or agony and to cry out as a wounded animal is most often done out of frustration, a sense of utter loneliness or from a sheer sense of total isolation and abandonment. To cry out into the night, to the wind, to the emptiness, to the abyss, to the void, to the nothingness is the ultimate primal act of anguish—but here’s the thing or actually the pure wonder of a seemingly empty hopelessness of which Bonhoeffer points out. . .he notes that she, me, you cries out not into a void, but rather the cry being uttered is to God. “We can only rightly seek God when God has already revealed himself to us. . .when we have found him before”

Having, at some point in the time of life prior to the seemingly single moment of separation, isolation, and devastation– there was once a prior encounter between the created and the Creator. He had revealed Himself. We cry out not to the nothingness but rather we cry out to the God of all of time.
We may cry out in frustration, in sorrow or in anger, but cry we do–and it is at this single moment, this nanosecond of time, when life, our life, is never to be the same.

Awaken in my soul O Lord, the longing which leads me to seek, to seek you and you alone. . .