the cost of silence as time is not our friend

“It is impossible to be a part-time Christian”
David Fiorazo, The Cost of our Silence


(image courtesy the web)

The very first paragraph of his introduction grabbed me:

America has over 300,000 churches, but few would contest that our Christian influence
is decreasing as the nation becomes more secularized.
Our biblical values are no longer being consistently demonstrated and promoted
and therefore, do not translate out from behind church walls and into culture.
Why are there so few speaking up for Jesus Christ and for righteousness in public anymore?
Hope for revival remains, and a remnant of committed leaders and believers are doing
their part, but because of the posers and pretenders,
American Christianity has almost become a joke.
People in the Middle East look at Hollywood, the Internet, and our government.
They see our education system, media and the people we elect.
They observe our greed, idolatry,
and society as a whole and refer to us as “The Great Satan.”

I mentioned the other day having seen the book The Cost of our Silence by David Fiorazo.
After reading the small snippet regarding the book, I was intrigued…
so much so that I ordered the book…
In part, because here was what I’ve been trying to say, in so many words, in the actual
print of a book…as in, this guy was saying what I’ve
known but have felt almost alone espousing from my small blog’s bully pulpit.

And here’s the odd thing.
As I’m not on social media, my little blog is indeed just that– little.
Not much exposure albeit for here in my small corner of the world of happy WP.
So my readership is not exactly grand in scope.

That is except when I write about certain topics…
topics just like what our friend David Fiorazo is addressing in his book.

I’ve never been much of a numbers person, as math was never my strong suit.
Yet when I was still in the classroom, schools were becoming big hunters of numbers,
percentages and stats…

We were inundated with keeping stats on all sorts of things with our students…
be it testing results, benchmark results, attendance, discipline…you name it.

This numbers notion was born from the thought that “numbers don’t lie”—
Numbers were now being equated with goals…
goals met or goals not yet met.
We were told that the numbers would tell us…
they would be the polestar pointing us in the right direction.

And we knew that a successful school that was meeting its goals and or standards was
seen as exceptional. If students were meeting their goals and standards, that would
in turn mirror the success of the school.

It became a vicious cycle of goals, stats, and results equaling glowing standards which were
being met with huge success…and we all know that if a school wants to be exceptional,
its students must be meeting and exceeding goals and stats.

These numbers became the backing behind the words.
Words such that “we are a school of excellence because our numbers don’t lie”
Schools could claim this or that as long as the numbers backed up the words.

Unfortunately, due to the pressure of meeting certain statewide or national criteria,
school systems found themselves fudging numbers in order to keep up the appearance of
being exceptional.
The pressure becomes so great that jobs were hanging in the balance of
student’s measuring up to the standard, goal, criteria numbers game.

It appeared that numbers could lie if the number counters could alter the count.

Atlanta Public Schools was one such system that was “caught” fudging the numbers.
They were inflating the state and national test results of their students…
going so far as to actually changing student’s answers.

The fear being that a failing school would lose federal funding due to
Falling scores and stats would see administrators losing their jobs and teachers would lose
their jobs and in the end who wants their school to lose that precious federal funding?!

It was and continues to be a numbers mess to be sure.

But here in blogland, the stats and numbers aren’t as precarious or crucial.
No one loses a job over low blog stats…rather perhaps one’s sense of worth as a writer,
or of that of a cook, or a photographer, or a creative individual…

We all have on our admin page the stats section.
A chart showing the readership over a day, a week, a month, a year…
a gauge of success, or as some think, popularity.

Yet life does not hang in the balance over blog stats…not unless you’re the type
of person who keeps track of such and in turn stresses over the fluctuation and
the fickleness of blog readers.

My stats, when I write posts that are more benign, more about a grandbaby or just pretty
pictures, typically run relatively low.
Kind of like just idly flipping through a magazine…
just another eyes glazed over page-turner.

But when I write posts from the bully pulpit of Christian Apologetics such as
Christian apathy or that of abortion, or homosexuality and same-sex unions,
heresy or atheism, or the failings of The Chruch, or posts about Chrisitan morality,
God’s word, the Truth of our Faith—
my numbers soar…as does the “hate” mail.

And I’ll admit that I don’t always have the time to devote to this sort of evangelizing
posting as it demands true depth and justice.

Some days life requires the simple and glazed over page-turners all because time is
not our friend.
The true meat and potatoes type of posts need passion, time for research and even valid
documentation…all of which does the subject matter justice.

And so when I read the words of authors such as Mr. Fiorazo, I feel those fires igniting—
as in it’s time to get cooking with some really flavorful meat and potatoes.

Mr. Fiorazo continues in his introduction:

Just as Jesus wept for Jerusalem while acknowledging its judgment,
should we not weep for America as the signs clearly point to God’s impending judgment on
a once-mighty, blessed Nation?
So we expect God to stay His hand of judgment and continue blessing a rebellious and
narcissistic people with His protection and provision?

One might argue, “But God is still on the throne.”
Sue. I agree He is sovereign over all events and circumstances.
He remains all-powerful, but He does not control us or force people to love Him.
God was also on His throne when we legalized abortion,
and soon America will be closing in on 60 million babies murdered in the name of “choice.”
Chrisitan helped elect the most pro-abortion,
anti-Christian president in our history–twice.
Do you suppose God cares how we vote?

God is still on the throne–
and He is preparing to judge a complacent people who continue ducking the issue of sin.

So with all of this simply found in the first few pages from a book’s introduction,
I can only imagine what might be waiting inside the book itself.

And so as I begin the slow picking apart and digesting of what it is I will be reading,
I will certainly, time and life cooperating, be sharing some important words for all
of us who call ourselves Believers.

Hopefully offering up a hearty portion of delicious meat and potatoes.

Yet I am mindful that time is not our friend.
Our time is running nigh as God’s judgment will not remain at bay forever…

Wake up!
Strengthen what remains and is about to die,
for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.

Revelation 3:2

The Truth versus that of silence…speak on

“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you,
remember Christ crucified and be silent.”

St. John of the Cross


(the week’s gathering / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours,
so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company,
that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him…
God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people,
by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways.

Sometimes He calls souls by means of sickness or troubles,
or by some truth He teaches them during prayer,
for tepid as they may be in seeking Him,
yet God holds them very dear.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.26
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

Ok, I admit that I’ve been a bit remiss in my reading here in blogland as of late.
As I’ve been here, there and yon for quite some time—
really, if the truth be told, I’ve been running willy nilly since February
when the ‘wee one’ was born.

And I will be out of pocket once again starting today, on and off throughout the week
and weekend as I scoot back and forth babysitting.

Yet sadly, all good things must come to an end as next week a new routine is to
be established.

With our son’s position and hours soon to change and our daughter-n-law beginning
a new school year teaching in a new school, the ‘wee one’ will be going to a lady
who keeps about 8 kids in her home—two of whom are the ‘wee one’s’ cousins.

So it will be an all in the family sort of home care situation that is the best and
more viable solution.

The other option…

my husband and I sell our house and move…
Not exactly practical but don’t think for a minute that I’ve not entertained the idea.

But I digress…

So back to the issue at hand…
I’ve been noticing a rather alarming and running theme amongst many Christian bloggers.

Frustration.

For there is a growing and rising tide offered by non-believers, nay-sayers and
even from within the ‘family fold’ to silence those who continue to hold true to
the Word of God.

Not some watered down Word.
Not some rewritten Word.
Not some progressive liberalism mishmash of The Word…
Not some uber feminist militant anti-male bashing blatant denial of The Word.

But rather an adherence to the authentic Word…
as in Words that are a couple of thousands of years old, Holy in inspiration, and stated
as is for all of eternity…

As in God said it and therefore, it is.

Be it an Aramaic text, Greek text, Jewish or Latin text…His authority does not change.

I AM remains I AM.

His Words, His tenents, His commands have not changed nor evolved with the times.
We are the ones who are evolving with the times and those various cultural norms and sins…
sins that we continue to claim as new truths…

And no, I’m not talking about the argument of evolution of monkey to man or
anything to do with Darwin…
I’m simply talking about us not being a consistent lot.

We are fickled and we like to have our cake and eat it too while eating everyone else’s as well
or telling others how and what to eat and when they shall eat it.

Now my dear friends, Bishop Gavin Ashenden and Pastor David Roberston, have each been quite
busy as of late posting various observations and articles…as have most of my
dear blogging family…all while I’ve been torn for time.

And one thing I’ve noticed while playing catch-up in my reading of blog posts is the
same theme…that being the theme of frustration—

And I should know….as I’ve had my own share of frustration from those who come
around pretending to want to engage in dialogue when their main objective is to belittle,
malign and obliterate as they are frothing and rabid with atheistic zeal.
So much so that they cannot nor will not rest until they feel as if they can silence
a Believer’s words.

Slaughter the lambs as it were.

There are many in the fold of the Faithful who have also come across these rabid foxes and
wolves…each on a daily basis…

Our dear Oneta over on Sweet Aroma became “embroiled” in my absence with a younger
whippersnapper on FB, who was bashing the social media of her day…
that being handwritten letters and autograph books.

Not one to be on FB, I don’t know the 1, 2, 3 of her tale but I have gleaned that
somehow the conversation turned,
or perhaps it was an entirely different conversation with an altogether different
commenter, but the gist was that Oneta challenged someone for stating that John McCain
was a traitor…she wanted documentation to back up that statement but
somehow it came across that Oneta was echoing that notion of McCain as traitor…
but the thing is, Oneta never said such.
She merely stated some negative observation against the dear senator while also wanting to
see documentation as to his acts of treason.
(see, I have no idea of how it went from social media to traitors)

Oneta responded that she had not labeled Sen. McCain a traitor but rather her
negative observations regarding the good senator could stand as negative without
her words being twisted around that she was now calling the senator a traitor.

I admire McCain as much as the next person for his service to our country and for being
an American war hero, but his time representing the Republican party in a strong positive
light is rapidly spiraling outward and downward as are all of his kith and kin of the
old guard on both sides of the aisle.
And last I checked, we are each entitled to our thoughts on the legendary senator along
with his colleagues…

Oneta is a positive and well-learned person who engages with a wide and diverse audience.
She is a woman of deep faith and conviction.
And one whom I greatly admire for her life lessons, knowledge and the teaching of that very wealth
of knowledge.

I don’t think Oneta would mind my sharing her observation.

“Just called it off with my FB “foe.”
It was fun.
You know I would enjoy that.
The issue was that someone posted that John McCain was a traitor.
I challenged by asking for documentation.
I couldn’t seem to get through to my responder that I was not calling McCain a traitor.
But I did have plenty of negative charges to pass on.
He said he was 56 and a history buff who had read three books about McCain.
I told him I was 84 and I didn’t need history. I lived it.
I would say we parted as almost friends.:D
Have a good rest, dear friend.”

Oneta is 84 and is not new to this world’s rodeo—she’s ridden her fair share of bronking
bucks and has lived to tell about it.

So to be silenced when it comes to God’s Truth and tenants or to be silenced when challenging
the observations of those who turn personal notions into sweeping accusations…
accusations which ring of falsehood…accusations without any sound basis…
well none of that is going to be happening around our tenacious little octagenarian who expects
nothing but the sound Truth…because there is no need to quibble over Truth.

And of course, we next have IB.

Insanity Bytes is a woman around my age who resides in what she likes to claim to be
the 9th circuit of hell…
or so I think it to be the 9th circuit as most of our current ‘circuits” are none too friendly
to certain political leanings nor to that of certain faith leanings these days…
so it’s not surprising that I can easily get my circuits confused.

IB actually seems to stay embroiled whether I’m around to
read about it or not…and she lives not only to tell about it but to actually
laugh about it all…like it or not she finds the last word and her last word is
build on that notion of Truth.

IB mixes it up with those who are unbelievers as well as many who actually confess
to be believers…it’s just that their beliefs are more of that rewritten Word business.

IB knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to say her peace…
a peace I might add that is steeped in that same unrelenting ancient Word of Truth that I was
talking about earlier.

And as for our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Roberston, notes in a recent posting on his blog
“Keep silent or speak out?” that…
“As an undershepherd of the Great Shepherd,
it is my job to counter such error and to protect the flock of God.”

Keep Silent….or Speak Out?k

David has been taking a really rough beating by the Scottish press as well as from
those progressive liberals and atheists who troll his blogs, his speaking engagements,
his magazine columns, etc.

And yet he does not waiver…never wavering from the Truth no matter how hard the beating.

Yet David has expressed his frustration and exasperation with what he sees playing out
against the Chruch from both within and without her sacred halls.

Of which brings us next to our good friend and rouge Anglican bishop, Gavin Ashenden—
a non-wavering soul who has also been lambasted for his firmly rooted stance within
the Word of God…a stance constantly hounded by the British liberal press.
Bishop Ashenden challenges the powers that be within the Anglican Chruch over their growing
acceptance of all things transgenderism as well as all things of homosexuality and the ever
growing liberal theology…The Chruch of England’s continuing push for the total acceptance
and teachings of all things that run counter to God’s Word.

In a recent offering on the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted, with the sad reporting of
a horrendous incident committed by a once beloved bishop along with the apparent cover-up from
a former Archbishop of Canterbury, the good bishop notes that “there must be a moral independence
of the Chruch such that She is to say to the State (the government at hand) that “you’re getting
it all wrong”—
yet sadly we are reminded that the Chruch of England and the State of the British Government
just happen to walk hand in hand without separation…so rather than holding each other accountable,
there is actually a deeply obvious collusion.

As I paraphrase the good bishop, he goes on to say, ‘if we set ourselves up as saints then
all is lost. But if we admit to being sinful creatures, the Lord can and will pick us up…
and it is in that picking up where Hope actually begins…

There is forgiveness but that forgiveness is predicated upon our asking for it and then admiting that
we must now live with the consequences of our actions…yet we will live with the knowledge of
redemption.

Naked disaster in the Church of England. Anglican Unscripted. IICSA, Carey & Ball.

And so I’ve found a rather interesting book that I’ve just ordered…
“The Cost of Our Silence: Consequences of Christians Taking the Path of Least Resistance”
by David Fiorazo.

This one excerpt grabbed me:
Christian in name only, America has become an epicenter for the culture war as too many of us
keep ducking the issue of sin.
Due to decades of Christians being silent,
failing to preach the gospel and speak the truth in love,
we’ve reached a tipping point in which political correctness refuses
to coexist with religious freedom.
Why do you think Christians who defend God’s Word are often called hateful,
intolerant, or judgmental?
There are consequences in this life and for eternity,
when Christians take the path of least resistance.
We cannot reverse the moral decline, but we can choose to stand for righteousness
as we pray for revival and be the salt and light Jesus called us to be while we’re still here.

Hide the light of Christ and retreat,
or let it shine and expose the darkness; live an inconsequential life,
or bear fruit that will last. If most Christians remain silent,
fewer people will be saved, society will collapse,
and we will continue to be part of the problem.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.
God will not hold us guiltless…”

And so we are slowly learning the cost behind remaining silent in a
world that is so opposed to the Truth…
the cost is much greater than most of us are willing to imagine.
Yet thankfully there are those voices who continue speaking…refusing to be silenced.

And we are all the better for it.

Speak on…

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 16:13

The Inferno

“When it became clear that the death warrant for hundreds of thousands
of Irish babies was about to be signed, it broke my heart.
When I saw the grotesque pictures of people dancing in the streets in
celebration it was like a scene out of Dante’s Inferno.”

David Robertson


(Dante)

Dante degli Alighieri was a 14th century Florentine who is most remembered for the epic
poems he composed into a collection known as The Divine ComedyInferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso
in other words, Hell, Purgatory and finally Paradise.

The collection of 3 poems are as epic as they are brilliant.
An allegory for what Dante believed were his own dark days and yet sadly for us,
during these trying days of our own, his words are most timely as they remain as a
reflective mirror—reflecting the emptiness of our own darkness.

As noted by a description on Wikipedia,
“it [hell] is the “realm…
of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites
or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice
against their fellowmen”.

Our friend the Wee Flea, the Scottish Pastor David Robertson, continues in his most
recent post which piggybacks off of the post he wrote just following the passing of the
referendum in Ireland rescinding the ban on abortion, as a most troubling sign of the times.

David likens much of what we are witnessing coming out of Ireland, in particular
what is coming out of the capital of Dublin, with its now jubilant party-like atmosphere
following the passage of the vote,
as something that could be straight out of the pages of Dante’s Inferno.

David notes that the vote, which is in itself bad enough in its own right, almost pales in
comparison to the near-hysterical celebratory mania that has followed the referendum’s passage…
a frenzied jumbled hoopla that is more than disturbing, it is downright barbaric.

Think about it…
a vote passed with an overwhelmingly large percentage in favor of the right to
terminate pregnancies up to 12 weeks…meaning that a mother can decide to
legally kill her unborn child, and the people are celebrating as if some massive
and oppressive enemy has just been finally and thankfully defeated.

Some sort of David and Goliath moment but so utterly far from such.

Prior to this vote, women in Ireland who wished to terminate their pregnancy
had to travel to Britain.

Yet today, women from around the globe are now proclaiming this latest referendum as
a giant victory in the way of women’s rights.
It’s that whole notion of ‘it’s my body, it’s my choice’ nonsense.

But what of it no longer being just your body involved?
Technically it is no longer the choice of a single individual because there are
actually, two bodies now involved.

And if the truth be told, it is not merely a singular choice or even a choice of two…
but rather it is a choice that truthfully involves three…

Yet oddly we never seem to hear about nor count the male who was involved
and assisted in the occurrence of this now rather ominous choice that is proclaimed as
being a singular choice.

David startingly notes that the whereas the politicians and the media have each
joined in the festivities proclaiming this referendum as a victory for the people…
the collective body of Church families has remained eerily silent.

The Catholic Chruch, silent.
The Anglican Chruch, silent.
The Chruch of Scotland, silent
The Free Chruch, silent.
The Baptist Chruch, silent.

A few clergy members here and there have voiced their sorrow but as far as a collective
Christian body response, the voices remain silent…

My favorite quote by Dante:
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis,
maintain their neutrality.”

Perhaps the Chruch needs a reminder of the volumes her indifference speaks…

The Irish Referendum – the Repercussions

Matt. 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked,
“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be
drowned in the depths of the sea.

weedling it out

“Awake! arise! the hour is late!
Angels are knocking at thy door!
They are in haste and cannot wait,
And once departed come no more.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


(weeds found amongst the rocks / Julie Cook / 2018)

The word weedling has a variety of meanings and uses…
all of which are more or less of the urban slang variety versus that of the Queen’s
English variety.

I use it when talking about sorting through things…

A cross between, digging, weeding, sorting, discarding that which is non-essential
cluttering junk as compared to that which is essential and necessary.

A task of tossing or keeping.

And as I scan our headlines, our world events, our markings and our recognitions…
I’m beginning to feel as if we must be about the task of weedling when it comes
to what is real, what is really important and all of that which is not.

I’m having to play a drastic game of catch up with my viewing of Anglican Unscripted…
that of our dear friend and favorite rouge Anglican bishop, Gavin Ashenden and host
Kevin Clausen as they meet weekly to discuss the latest in the way of Anglicanism and that
of the Chruch as well as life for Christians in general within our Western Civilization.

I’ve just now gotten to watch the episode from the Tuesday of Holy Week.

And what an enlightening episode is has been.

Bishop Ashenden explains to Kevin a little about his online ministry and his initial
reluctance to actually “offer a homily” online.
It is only a small portion of the good Bishop’s current clerical duties but he felt very
much that God had spoken to him about offering such a service to interested Christians
out there somewhere on the internet.

He speaks of the awkwardness of “preaching” into a camera of a faceless audience but
that God had been very specific in His demand.
And who are we to disagree when God speaks or demands??

It has been slowly revealed to the good bishop that the faithful are demonstrating
an almost monastic need for direct worship as Christianity–
that of the true Christian faithful…those who are very much wanting,
if not needing clerical guidance and ministering–is becoming alarmingly apparent
due to the sensed pressure of having to go more and more underground with the
practice of their (our) faith.

And why you may wonder are Christians feeling the need to head underground?

Well this is where we stop and take a look at how our Western Society and Culture
is currently dealing with Christianity and the Chruch and its take on sin versus
that of choice by the masses.
While we watch the body of Christ slowly being squeezed more and more by a polarizing
Marxist leftist society and a radically liberal culture.

The good Bishop admits that he believes true Christians…
those Christians who believe in God’s word as sacred will be literally driven
underground in the near future. As freedom to worship God according to God’s word
will be a crime because our society does not like the notion of sin, sinfulness
or culpability for that sin.

This as we see more and more Christians being labeled homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic
all because they, they being you and me, believe God has been very specific in what He has
stated as a sinful lifestyle as well as that which runs counter to Holy Scripture.

Living life as a true Christian will soon be deemed living life as a true hate crime violator.
As disagreeing with Homosexuality, Transgenderism or anything of the LGBTQ communities
is indeed considered very much a hate crime.
Of which will push true Christians further away from what will become a “state”
sanctioned church.

We are actually already seeing this take place in our mainstream denominations…
Should a minister or priest say anything publically against or to the negative
about homosexuality or even refuse to conduct same-sex marriage…
that minister/priest is ostracized, demoted or even relieved of his duties.

And whereas the notion of moving underground may all sound rather Orwellian or paranoid…
I for one clearly see the writing on the wall.

Bishop Ashenden recalls a time when he was actually smuggling Bibles into the
then Soviet Union as well as theological books into what is today the Czech Republic,
all before the fall of Communism.

This was because the Communist Regime in the Czech Republic had decided that the best way to
crush the Chruch and Christianity would be to simply ban all clerical ordinations…while
destroying seminaries and all theological books of study.
As the thought was that by doing so, the Chruch would shrivel up and die within a
generation’s time.

This was very much the mindset of Nazi Germany in Poland during WWII—as I am reminded of
a young Karol Wojtyla studying for the priesthood in a very clandestine fashion as
ordinations within the Catholic church were strictly forbidden under Nazi rule.
He would literally meet in the basement of a building under the cloak of darkness to study for
his ordination…
Should he or the priest who was conducting the lessons been discovered,
both men would have been immediately shot for treason against the state.

Bishop Ashenden believes that our very own state-sanctioned authorities will begin to weed out
people before they have a chance to be ordained because of the state demanding like-minded
folks preaching their idea of the gospel of all-inclusiveness versus the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As any sort of belief system or gospel will be prevented from containing the notion of sin
or of sin’s repercussions but rather the said gospel of self-rule, along with a belief that all
things, all lifestyles, are to be deemed acceptable, will be the only tolerable view.

And so if you think all of this sounds utterly far-fetched or perhaps even over the top in our
most modern civilized society…
I would caution you to think again.

This as I am once again reminded of Mark’s comment from the other day about when a
generation is silenced, God will indeed have the stones cry out…
(Luke 19:40)

Anglican Unscripted…Gavin Ashenden

what is prayer

“Why must people kneel down to pray?
If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do.
I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep,
deep woods and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if
there was no end to its blueness.
And then I’d just feel a prayer.”

L.M. Montgomery


(the quince are slowly forthcoming / Julie Cook / 2018)

According to Merriam Webster prayer is:

1. a (1): an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought said a prayer
for the success of the voyage

2. a: set order of words used in praying
b: an earnest request or wish
2: the act or practice of praying to God or a god kneeling in prayer
3: a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers —often used in plural
4: something prayed for
5: a slight chance haven’t got a prayer

Books have been written, lectures have been given and the search engines are endless…
Everyone has an idea, a thought, a notion…
as to what prayer is…
Both personally and publically

For you see prayer can be both.

There are the: ‘what types’, ‘which ways’ and ‘how-tos’…

Gandhi, a Hindu, offers one nice thought on prayer…
“Prayer is not asking.
It is a longing of the soul.
It is the daily admission of one’s weakness.
It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

While Mother Teresa, a modern day saint, offers another thought —
“Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition,
and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

Yet both saint and Hindu offer similar thoughts along a similar line…

Asking or not asking
Longing yet nothingness
Listening versus hearing
Words or silence.
Knees or standing
Thoughts or shouting
Loud versus quiet
Individual versus group
Need or praise
Hope or hopelessness…

We know that Jesus both wept and prayed..much as many of us do to this day.
He also implored…as in an earnestness that almost borders on begging.

Moses prayed and implored
Abraham prayed and implored
Just as every prophet, every apostle and every saint on down the line has done since.

I saw a sign outside of a church not long ago that read ‘to worry is an annoyance to God
As in God tells us not to worry…and yet our prayers are so often overflowing with
the very worry that this sign tells us is an annoyance to God–for it is a manifestation
of our doubt…our lack of faith…
and to some, it is even considered sinful…as in a lack of trust….and did not God state
to us to pray without ceasing, and to trust.

So I suppose I’ve annoyed God considerably over the years.
Sometimes more than others.

Sometimes I’ve known Him to listen, other times I’ve been left to wonder.

This is where the nonbeliever loves to pounce…taking hold of that latter notion with a
sneering “see, I told you so”…”for there is no God.”

But none the less, I pray.

Because none the less,
I believe.

Silence and frustration
Sound or emptiness
Annoy or implore
Wordless or shout
Anger or sorrow…

I pray.

“In the silence of the heart, God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa

Silence, authentic and evil

“The Islamic State’s genocide of Christians in the Middle East is well
documented. Yet this modern atrocity is often judged less newsworthy than the
jihadists’ destruction of the region’s cultural heritage. What are the roots
and human realities of this unfolding tragedy in the birthplace of three
great religions?”

back cover offering of the book The Last Christians by Fr Andreas Knapp


(one of our trees in last week’s snow / Julie Cook / 2017)

Speaking of books arriving via the post….
another bookmailer showed up in my mailbox yesterday…

Dare I say that this most recent book will take us in a vastly different
direction than the children’s book seen in yesterday’s post
If My Moon Was Your Sun by Andreas Steinhofel….
Not to say that there won’t be both poignancy, sorrow and loss…
but such will be on a scale that will touch all of us rather than some of us….

This recent book does not look to be an easy read.
Not that there should be great burdensome amount of academic depth but rather simply
the hard tale of human loss and suffering on an epic and historic proportion….
and yet mostly on an overlooked and even ignored level.

Of which is actually most perplexing given the significance of the situation.

The book is entitled The Last Christians by Andreas Knapp

“For a long time Christians in the Middle East have been condemned to silence.
For centuries they have been discriminated against by a predominantly Muslim
society and, as a minority, they have been forced to quietly accept
injustice and lead an inconspicuous life in the shadows.
Even I, a preist and theologian, was for a long time unaware of the moving story
of Christians in Syria and Iraq.

Two years ago, I met some Christians from the Middle East who now live in my
neighborhood of Grunau, in Leipzig, Germany. Having listened to their stories,
I was so moved I had to write them down.
They may not be entirely politically correct, but they are correct in
the sense that they are authentic.”

Fr Andrea Knapp

It is noted from the publisher that “remarkably, though these last Christians hold
no hope of ever returning to their homes, they also harbor no thirst for revenge.
Could it be that they–along with the Christians of the West, whose interest will
determine their fate–hold the key to breaking the cycle of violence in the region?

Their’s is a story that I have actually written about before…
around the same time Fr Knapp, the German priest,
came to see with his own eyes, then came to write down his interactions
and observations…
but yet this is a story that is still exceedingly timely and necessary to hear.

My origianal post is from March of 2015 and is more informative
than what is offered here today…as it includes a 60 Minutes segment in which
Lara Logan had also gone to visit the region in order to see and hear
first hand the plight of this particular group of ancient Christians.

The post offers images and insight into the barbarism used by ISIS to systematically annihilate this last vestige of the original Christians who have existed in this
region since both the death and resurrection of Christ.

Regarding the book…I have not yet had a chance to delve into it…
but from what I have gleaned from the tantalizing tidbits…
this will be not only a very important tale to Christians but also a hugely important
story for historians, Jews as well as Muslims…as it actually determines the course
of humanity.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/blood-of-the-lamb/

And perhaps ironically today, as I was thinking about these first Christians who are
lined up to be the last of their kind, I caught a very brief, like all of 2 minute,
video clip of an interview of sorts given by the Reformed Presbyterian Minister David Robertson—
a clip where he is responding to the question of
‘How does the existence of Evil undermine the atheistic worldview?

Pastor Robertson notes that in the mind of an atheist, the existence of Evil
is a clear sign that there is no God.
As they will rationalize that if there was a God,
He would in turn be all powerful and therefore He could and would prevent all Evil….
So since there is Evil, there is obviously no God.

Yet on the flip side of all of that is how then does the atheist define Evil
with no moral absolutes?
If there are no rules, no judgements, no afterlife, no God, no way of resolving
or dealing with Evil, how does the atheist actually deal with the concept of
evil in any sort of defining way.
The answer… He cannot.

So the non believer has a conundrum…with the mindset of ‘well, since there is no
God and Evil isn’t Evil, we might as well just live it up….

This as humankind wrestles with what to do about the historic and epic genocides…atrocities which have taken place throughout all of time.

And so you are now asking as to why I would write about such during this time of
Advent—a time of all things full of Expectancy, Anticipation and Christmas…
a time that is to be of softness, love and dare we say, hope…
Why should we worry ourselves over the ugliness of reality as those are problems
not on our particular or given radar—things that are happening over there some
place and out of sight.

Why write about the annihilation of Aramaic Christians, atheists and their fight for disbelief and the very concept of Evil….

‘Please not here, not now, not at Christmas…’ we are each heard to lament.

Well it actually is because it is Advent and the Christmas season that we should be
and need to be most mindful of such….

As those of us who confess to be Believers must not find ourselves falling
into the hole of secularism and the Societal notion of Christmas…
of which we have done.

This secular celebration of all things Christmas that is currently in all
its full glory and regalia is lulling us into a time of contented ignorant bliss.

And just as I reminded us in Tuesday’s Meat and Potatoes post….
this time of year is particularly very loud and very noisy…for a reason…

Do you not think that there is one who delights in the pure distraction
from what is to be our Truth?

Advent….
yes…
be ready,
be watching,
be waiting…
for there are epic things taking place all the while as we busy ourself with
the minutia of the moment while missing the importance of the day…

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15

unchangeable

“I the Lord do not change.
So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees
and have not kept them.
Return to me, and I will return to you,”
says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 3:6-7


(a little toadstool deep in the woods / Julie Cook / 2017)

On my current path I have traveled to a place of impasse—
where the circumstances of life are changing while I am left at a loss….
I find myself now wrestling with the silence of God…

There are lies which are laced within a hot and ever-slight breeze,
whispering an ancient tale of abandon…
as the sweat upon my brow beads droplets of doubt.

Rage multiples upon itself.
Anger returns to the seemingly empty silence
while God’s word proclaims it will not return void…
and yet I wonder how do I know…..

Poignantly I am reminded, once again, that He is God and I am not.
His ways are not my ways…nor will they ever be…
and in that fact resides my assurance.

He does not and will not change, despite my life’s circumstance.
For He shall supply my needs despite my pleas and questions…

“The winds of change and circumstance
Blow in and all around us
So we find a foothold that’s familiar

And bless the moments
That we feel You nearer

When life had begun
I was woven and spun
You let the angels
Dance around the throne

And who can say when
But they’ll dance again
When I am free
And finally headed home

I will be weak
Unable to speak
Still I will call You by name
Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer
Comforter, Healer, my Redeemer
Lord and King, Beginning and the End

I Am
Yes, I Am”

Nichole Nordeman
Lyrics I AM

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

we beseech thee…

“In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa


(a lone sanderling surveys the tide at dusk / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie cook / 2017)

In your still silence we come before you oh Lord….hear our prayers…..

That it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to give us an heart to love and fear thee,
and diligently to live after thy commandments;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to give to all thy people increase of grace to hear meekly thy Word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred,
and are deceived;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand;
and to comfort and help the weak-hearted;
and to raise up those who fall;
and finally to beat down Satan under our feet;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to succour, help, and comfort, all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to preserve all who travel by land,
by water, or by air, all women in child-birth, all sick persons,
and young children; and to show thy pity upon all prisoners and captives;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to defend, and provide for, the fatherless children,
and widows, and all who are desolate and oppressed;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to have mercy upon all men;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers,
and to turn their hearts;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth,
so that in due time we may enjoy them;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
That it may please thee to give us true repentance;
to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances;
and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives
according to thy holy Word;
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world;
Grant us thy peace.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world;
Have mercy upon us.
O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

(a potion of the Great Litany, prayers for General Supplications/
1928 Book of Common Prayer

Xena, princess warrior

I would rather die than do something which I know to be a sin,
or to be against God’s will.

Jean d’Arc

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war,
while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

Sun Tzu


(image of St Joan of Arc–Jean d’Arc / Joan of Arc, c.1450, Illuminated manuscript on parchment, Musée de l’Histoire de France, Paris)

No this is not a picture of the fictional character Xena, Warrior Princess but
rather an image of Saint Jean d’Arc otherwise known as Joan of Arc .

Joan was a warrior…a righteous warrior.

Myself you ask….
well, for as long as I can remember, I have often felt that I’ve been called to be
some sort of a warrior…like Joan…a holy warrior who has been called to
raise the sword of righteousness….

And adding the word princess behind the notion of warrior just seems to be
an added nice touch…
allowing any and all female warriors to still be a girly girl if she so chooses.

Yet my calling however may be more along the lines of a Queen Margaret of Scotland
or even a Queen Adelaide of Italy and the Holy Roman Empire…a role of leading
by example without the sword….as the word “Queen” simply adds a bit of umph and sophistication to the role…

For all of these were sainted women who lived virtuous and holy lives….
heeding the call of God by following the internal compass of the Holy Spirit…
be it with sword in hand or generosity of heart.

Holy warriors, be they of the literal role like Joan who led the troops into battle
or more like our two queens who opted to lead lives of holy virtue,
while living in the face of all that was not virtuous nor holy,
as each was following their gift and calling.

Yet both of these sorts of hearty holy souls heard God’s call and in turn
yielded to His instruction.
They do this by way of deep prayer, contemplation,
reflection, study of Holy Scripture as they then follow the God given
directions offered by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

They are not knee jerk individuals.
Nor are they passive pushovers.

They are tempered.
For their faith has been tried and tested and refined in a furnace of righteous indignation.

I am neither necessarily virtuous nor holy but I am willing to take my stand,
raising my sword and my standard when I see it necessary….
as I continue to learn how to bide my time, bite my tongue…
while holding my knees at bay.

Which is hard in today’s world with its current run of chaotic lunacy.
I keep telling God, “just say the word”…
and I’ll take off running and screaming into the fray like a banshee brandishing
my sword of righteousness….

Funny thing, He’s yet to sound my call into battle.

This country is currently teetering on the edge of a very dangerous precipice.
The slippery slope that our leaders, on both sides of the aisle, have chosen,
which is only pushing us even closer to the loss of balance.

Things around this nation and around this globe are an absolute mess.
The worst I’ve ever seen.

Not even during WWII followed by Korea which beget Vietnam,
or even the psychotic Cold War…because in each of those incidences, we
pretty much knew the enemy or at least what we were fighting for and against…
Western Civilization rallied together to stand united against blatant
evils and tyranny.

Not so in today’s world…for today we have seen the enemy and he is
actually us…as in ourselves

It is us with our ungodly choices of liberalism, socialism, Marxism, materialism,
anarchy, along with a free and open society..
all of which are not working…

Why isn’t it working?

Because we are a nation, we are a Western Civilization, that has turned
our backs on our God….
and there are repercussions for a people who turn their backs on God.
As we are living those very repercussions and they will only grow in
severity as we continue down this road of self destruction.

The global Christian family has become not only the whipping boy to an
out of control society, but the sacrificial lamb for all the worlds ills.
Well, maybe the first blame usually falls to our sitting President, but
eventually it comes around to those conservative, moralistic Christians.

(This is where I wrote about 4 more paragraphs that I had the presence of mind to
go back in and cut due to that pesky problem of knee jerkitis….)

Because the intolerant and childish behavior of the
‘oh so pious pseudo tolerant, materialistic, human rights, anarchist, liberal
loving, socialist blind ignorant progressives who clump everyone they can think
to blame, other than themselves,
into a single basket of their own perceived ills as they’re working fast and furious
to be our own true demise….

And just to make certain folks “get it” this “new” no holds bar liberalistic
society will riot, picket, protest, sue, demonstrate and demand capitulation…
and just incase you don’t get the point, they’ll break some windows,
block the streets, threaten your livelihood, scream and kick until you
bend to their will.

Yet during all of this, many Christians are simply turning the other way hoping
it will all just go away.

Yet the picture however has been painted and the die has been cast…
as the masses are demanding a head on a platter…
and that head is Christianity.

So they proclaim that the teachings of the Church, the words of Christ,
the teaching of the tenants of our very God… are in a word… passé…
as in no longer suitable,
no longer relevant,
no longer tolerable.
and therefore are no longer allowed.

And if you think such talk baseless or extreme or fanatical…
then you have failed to see the headlines from around the globe.

As we the faithful passively sit silently watching while allowing the masses to
chip away at the footings of the very structure that has upheld the life of our
monotheistic Western Civilization since Emperor Constantine conferred
the first council of Nicaea and Gregory the Great in 590 set the western
Christian Church in motion.

So I’m standing,
with a nervous hand upon the hilt of my sword,
as I await the call.

As our dear friend Citizen Tom so eloquently stated in his comment on yesterday’s post…the time for being nice is over.

(If you want some Christian perspective and wisdom regarding our nation, her history
and how God’s hand is a part of each and all, please visit Citizen Tom…. https://citizentom.com/2017/08/20/what-you-must-learn-from-white-supremacists/)

For we are not contending against flesh and blood,
but against the principalities, against the powers,
against the world rulers of this present darkness,
against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

in the sound of silence

“On Good Friday last year the SS found some pretext to punish 60 priests
with an hour on “the tree.”
That is the mildest camp punishment.
They tie a man’s hands together behind his back, palms facing out and fingers pointing backward.
Then they turn his hands inwards, tie a chain around his wrists and hoist him up by it.
His own wight twists his joints and pulls them apart…
Several of the priest who were hung up last year never recovered and died.
If you don’t have a strong heart, you don’t survive it.
Many have a permanently crippled hand.”

Jean Bernard, Priestblock 25487: a Memoir of Dachau


(worn grave marker, Rock of Cashel / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook)

“Despite our earnest efforts, we couldn’t climb all the way up to God.
So what did God do? In an amazing act of condescension, on Good Friday,
God climbed down to us, became one with us.
The story of divine condescension begins on Christmas and ends on Good Friday.
We thought, if there is to be business between us and God, we must somehow get up to God.
Then God came down, down to the level of the cross, all the way down to the depths of hell.
He who knew not sin took on our sin so that we might be free of it.
God still stoops, in your life and mine, condescends.
“Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” he asked his disciples,
before his way up Golgotha. Our answer is an obvious,
“No!” His cup is not only the cup of crucifixion and death,
it is the bloody, bloody cup that one must drink if one is going to get mixed up in us.
Any God who would wander into the human condition,
any God who has this thirst to pursue us, had better not be too put off by pain,
for that’s the way we tend to treat our saviors.
Any God who tries to love us had better be ready to die for it.
As Chesterton writes, “Any man who preaches real love is bound to beget hate…
Real love has always ended in bloodshed.”

― William H. Willimon,
Thank God It’s Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words from the Cross