The old grey mare ain’t what she use to be…

When we learn from experience, the scars of sin can lead us to restoration
and a renewed intimacy with God.

Charles Stanley


image courtsey the web)

Remember the song from childhood?
The Old Grey Mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…
Meaning that a once fine horse was no longer the fine swift steed she once had been.
Her prime past as she was now old and sluggish…

I could be talking about myself or…
I could be talking about something else entirely.

Apostolic or Apostate…
What say you?

Apostasy:
1 : an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith
2 : abandonment of a previous loyalty

Apostolic:
of or relating to a succession of spiritual authority from the apostles held (as by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox) to be perpetuated by successive ordinations of bishops
and to be necessary for valid sacraments and orders

I received the following e-mail posting by our friend the Wee Flea but oddly it wouldn’t show up
when I clicked on his blog nor did it show up in the reader.

Odd indeed.

So I had no choice but to copy it pretty much word for word in its entirety…
as I found the words important.

Most folks reading these words probably wouldn’t really think anything written about the
Episcopal Chruch in Australia or the Episcopal Chruch of Scotland by an Evangelical
Scottish Presbyterian Free Church pastor of much importance.

The fact that the Episcopal Chruch, be it in Scotland or the US or anywhere
else for that matter—or even her Anglican parent counterpart in the UK…
is each slowly unraveling—however, such a fact is most likely not of any real concern or
relevance to those outside of these said denominations…
but here’s the thing—–
it is vastly important.

It’s important to all Christian Believers.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden, a former UK Anglican cleric, knows first hand the truth behind
David Robertson’s observations…as it is a large factor that lead him to leave his
post as Chaplin to the Queen as well as to leave the denomination he had severed since
completing seminary.

I myself have watched this same ‘observation’ unfolding since the mid-1970’s—
a slowly evolving insidious shift within my own Episcopal church.
At first, the shift was subtle…small and seemingly innocent.

But then it became bold and blatant and oh so defiant.

But when a church body takes God’s tenents, His commands, His words and rewrites them
in order to appease the masses, well, we all have problems.

And so goes one denomination, so goes her sisters.
Much like a domino effect.

The United Methodist Chruch is currently scheduled to hold a special council in order to
set straight its stance on gay marriage and openly gay clergy.

And so whereas some folks would find it rather strong wording to call a church body
an ‘apostate’, David raises the question—do we wish to be apostolic or apostate…
that is our real concern…

The following is the majority of the text body from David’s emailed posting:

The Apostate SEC
So it was with a heavy heart that I was reminded by my friend and brother,
David McCarthy of the other St Thomas’s Anglican –
(this one in Corstorphine Edinburgh) –
that there is another kind of Anglicanism.
One which is more apostate than apostolic.
Sadly as a proud Scot, it is embarrassing to have to confess that it is
the Scottish Episcopal Church which is leading the race to the bottom in
the worldwide Anglican church (although the Americans are not far behind).

The Australians recognised this.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia passed a motion on 7 September 2017,
condemning SEC’s decision to approve same-sex marriage as
“contrary to the doctrine of our church and the teaching of Christ”,
and declaring itself in “impaired communion” with the province.
It also expressed their
“support for those Anglicans who have left or will need to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church
because of its redefinition of marriage and those who struggle and remain”,
and presented their prayers for the return of SEC
“to the doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired relationships will be restored”

1) The Scottish Episcopal Church is Apostate.

It’s not just that in typical Anglican fashion it tolerates heresy and unbiblical practice.
If you belong to a mixed denomination you take that as a given and hope to see it reformed.
But because as a denomination it has now mandated a new view of marriage that
specifically goes against what God has said in his word.
In altering the canon on marriage to exclude gender,
the Scottish Episcopal church condemned Christ, divided the Church and mocked
the Scriptures.

Please note that saying a Church, as in a denomination, is apostate,
does not mean that everyone in that denomination is an apostate.
But nonetheless, why would a biblical Christian want to stay in an apostate denomination?

2) The SEC is dying.

Despite the claim that there are 100,000 Scottish Episcopalians,
the reality is that there is a weekly attendance of around 7,000.
We are told there are 300 churches but most of these are tiny and dying.
According to their own figures, 57% of their congregations are not viable.
It’s not always the case that one should leave a dying denomination,
but the key question is why remain on a sinking ship?

3) Reform from within will not happen.

One of the reasons given for staying in is that we are working for reform.
This is one of the greatest and most deceitful myths that evangelicals hang on to.
The liberals love sending ‘evangelical’ bishops to congregations that are thinking of
leaving, to tell them that ‘hang on, reform can happen, –
whilst they work to ensure that it won’t.
They want the evangelicals manpower and money –
they don’t want the evangelicals gospel, Scripture or Lord!

How do we know that reform won’t happen?
Because there are almost no examples in history of it ever happening.
Because the judgement of God is upon the church –
having left it to its own devices. And because the church has so compromised with
the world that it is determined to prevent any biblical reform.
Of course, I know the answer, often expressed as a pietistic truism –
‘God is sovereign and he can bring about renewal and revival’.

Indeed he is.
And indeed he can.
But just because God can send the ravens to feed me,
does not mean that I don’t go shopping for food!
To rely on the ‘exceptional’ in spiritual matters is as daft as relying on it in material.
God has given us normal ‘means of grace’ through which he works.
The Spirit, speaking in the Church, through the Word, bringing us Christ,
is the normal way that He builds us up. When the Church rejects the Word,
quenches the Spirit and despises the teaching of Jesus – it ceases to be the Church,
and becomes a means of destruction rather than a means of grace.

4) Faithfulness to Christ is more important that faithfulness to a denomination.

I heard a tremendous sermon from Simon Manchester (Anglican!) yesterday –
on Jesus and the temple.
The words that struck him (and me!) were those that spoke of Jesus leaving the Temple.
The temple was the central symbol of Judaism and biblical religion at that time.
But Jesus said it wasn’t about the temple, which would be destroyed,
but about him (and his words which would never pass away).
Every church needs structures –
we all have our temples. But when Jesus leaves the house –
its time to get out.

5) Get out of the burning building.

Before you decide where you are going.
When your home is on fire you don’t sit down in the living room and plan a new home –
you get out.
And then rebuild.

6) There is a hope for real, genuine renewal.

I met Canon David Short.
He is the pastor of an Anglican church in Canada that left the Canadian Anglican province.
(St John’s in Vancouver where JI Packer is an assistant minister).
It is a dreadful story – they lost a $1 million lawsuit
(taken to the courts by the Anglican Church) their buildings, home etc.
They had a hard, tough time for many years.
But now there are 75 churches in their renewed Anglican church,
and they are in fellowship with the majority of Anglicans throughout the world.
The remaining Canadian Anglicans are declining rapidly, closing churches and losing members;
(it is estimated that they losing some 15,000 members per year –
although they are very reluctant to give out any statistics – I wonder why?).
The question for Scottish Episcopalians is–do you want to belong to a dying church on the
pretense that it isn’t – or would you rather be part of a dynamic, renewing church?

7) Scotland needs more Gospel churches.

Of which denomination does not really matter.
Although Australia is heading down the same route as the UK,
regressing towards a Greco/Roman/Pagan culture;
it is not doing so at nearly the same rate as Scotland.
One reason is the number of Gospel churches that there are here.
This past week I spoke to an Anglican bishop who told me that his diocese has 60 parishes –
ALL of them are evangelical (and ‘low church).
That’s 15,000 people in a population of some 1 million making a difference in every part of their communities.
I doubt the whole SEC with its 300 churches has half that number.

8) For the unity of the Church –“ don’t leave Mother Church’ is the cry.

Faithful Scottish Episcopalians will hear that cry many times –
both from liberals and evangelicals.
But who is leaving?
If people in St Thomas’s, St Silas or other evangelical SEC churches leave they are not
the ones being schismatic.
The schismatics are in the Synod and hierarchy who have voted to leave the doctrine,
tradition, Bible, and Head of the Church). For example, the TEC
(the Episcopalian church in the US) have just voted to remove the words
‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘procreation’ from its marriage service in order to make it more
‘LGBT compliant’.

Of course, the SEC leadership here will say that could never happen here.
But if they do so they are not telling the truth.
Evangelicals have been lied to every step of the way –
and yet like suckers, we still keep believing from the false prophets tell us!

And then the protest comes.
But that’s not loving…and it’s not loving to leave.
It’s not loving…?
Is it loving to stay?
Loving to whom?
As for ‘unloving’ just watch how the ‘loving’ wolves turn on the sheep when
they decide to follow the Shepherd and not the thieves!
Legal threats are just the tip of the iceberg.
There is nothing more intolerant and unloving that a liberal ‘Christian’
who has been spurned or challenged!
Ironically if someone votes for St Thomas’s to remain in the SEC, they are voting not for unity – but for schism and disunity.
They are allying with the apostates of the American TEC and rejecting
the vast majority of Anglicans in the Global South.

Of course, it would be ideal if the evangelicals in the SEC all left together,
as one – but given the divided nature of evangelicalism,
the tribalistic nature of Scottish church politics and the fear factor, that appears unlikely…
Still, we can pray for the real unity of the Lord’s people!

9) For the Good of your own souls –and your families.

I meet so many people who tell me that they were once Christians but have now turned away.
Some are from an evangelical background but the vast majority are from ‘liberal’ churches.
It’s little wonder that they turn away.
Because they have not been fed or taught the glorious, beautiful gospel of Christ.
Instead, they have been fed poison.
Why would I expose my family or myself to spiritual food poisoning?
10) For the glory of Christ. That should be the Christians primary concern.
It may be that someone is able to explain how remaining in an apostate denomination
which denies Christ, his Word, and his people; promising obedience to it;
financing and supporting it; brings glory to Christ, but I just can’t see it.
Leaving because you acknowledge Jesus is Lord,
because you love him and want to serve him according to his Word,
may be costly and hard – actually let me rephrase that –
it WILL be costly and hard.
But oh how glorious! We will not give the glory of Christ to another.
That’s why we obey the command of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:14-18.
This passage was not written about marriage…it was written about being yoked
with unbelievers in worship. Hear the Word of the Lord.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be my people.”

2Cor. 6:17

Therefore,

“Come out from them

and be separate,

says the Lord.

Touch no unclean thing,

and I will receive you.”

2Cor. 6:18

And, “I will be a Father to you,

and you will be my sons and daughters,

says the Lord Almighty.”

my whole world could shatter


(Autumn / Julie Cook / 2018)

I had another post written for today but there was a nagging urge to put it on hold.
I kept trying to push through the writing, trying hard to ignore the unseen force
moving me in a different direction, but I couldn’t push it down,
keeping it from consuming my thoughts.
So somewhat reluctantly, I put the post on hold and started writing what seemed to be
pouring from my heart and thoughts.

Groovy Kind Of Love
It was a song that I first remembered hearing back in 1988…
although it had first been a hit in 1965.

The lyrics were written by Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager, both teens at the time.
It was first recorded by Diane and Annita then later by The Mindbenders.
Eventually, it was covered by The Turtles and finally Phil Collins

And it was Phil Collins’ rendition that left the most lasting impression on my heart.

My mom had died in 1986 at the ripe ol age of 53.
It was lung cancer…
and whether it was just odd or rather just an odd blessing, the entire ordeal only lasted
from July 25th until September 6th.
However, I suspect Mother had been sick much longer than any of us had realized.

In hindsight, I was very much crushed and even broken.
I was 26.
I had been teaching for 3 years plus I had been married for 3 years.
And if the truth be told, it was not the smoothest sailing marriage.
And now I suddenly found myself having to care for my distraught and very inept father
who lived in another city over an hour away.

My plate was now overtly full while my heart was undeniably broken.
And I was very much alone.

When I first heard Phil Collins sing the song in 1988–with that near hypnotic rhythmic
tempatic resonance, I would always catch myself singing softly along.
And every time I got to the line, “my whole world could shatter…”
the words would catch in my throat like a choking rock…
for despite it now having been two years since my mom had died,
my world was still shattered…yet no one knew it but me…
and even I didn’t actually realize how broken I truly was.

The song reminded me of my loss.

My world was shattered…

But…
I knew that I still loved my mom and she, despite being gone, still loved me.
Although it was now in a different dimension with a love that transcended time.
A thing I suppose I now felt was, as the song said, a groovy kind of love.

And so all these many years later…that song has come flooding once again to mind.
Not because I’ve recently heard it playing but rather because the Spirit brings
it to my mind.

So now as I look down upon this tiny granddaughter… I am reminded that
yes, a world could shatter, just as a rock still catches in my throat…
but there will always be that groovy kind of love that transcends time…

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When you’re close to me, I can feel your heart beat
I can hear you breathing near my ear
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love

Anytime you want to you can turn me onto
Anything you want to, anytime at all
When I kiss your lips, ooh I start to shiver
Can’t control the quivering inside
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love, oh

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When I’m in your arms, nothing seems to matter
My whole world could shatter, I don’t care
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love, oh
We got a groovy kind of love

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

It takes two baby

“It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
Me and you
It just takes two
It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby,
To make a dream come true
It just take two”

Lyrics Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston


(our lone apple / Julie Cook / 2017)

Thirty four years ago two rather young naive people said “I do.”
Over the years there would be many a time when both thought that
having said “I don’t” might have been the better option.

And so it is with anything that we do in this life that is done for any real
length of time….
There are the days you’re glad you’re in it and there are days
you wish you’d never seen it!

Marriage is just such an endeavor.

Eventually add to the mix a family…and it can suddenly become hard even
on the best of days.

One thing I know as a Christian.
Marriage is a thing that Satan abhors.

For marriage is a worldly example of God’s love and desire of and for us.
A union and a joining…that mirrors His gift to us in the form of His son.
As Christ is considered the bridegroom and the Church, His spouse…
so we come together as man and woman, bridegroom and spouse.

A union that is a rhythmic tandem of two becoming one.

And just like a tandem bike—you’ve got two very different individuals working
together to make a single bike work…making it move and steer in the direction
that both folks want to go…
because a tandem bike can only go in one direction despite two very distinct
and very different people peddling. Both folks need to be on the same page,
or nobody is going anywhere.

For there has to be just one person who steers and directs while both work to keep it going…
Balancing and moving together as one in order to keep everything level and
flowing.

Which brings me to the picture of the split apple.

Out of the 4 apple trees that my husband and I planted a couple of years ago..
Little trees that we’ve babied, watered, fertilized,
trimmed and fretted over…
we have just harvested our crop…
a lone single apple for the year.

We watched a little flower bloom then form into a tiny green orb.
The tree actually had another little apple that was growing alongside the first…
we concluded there’d be at least one for me and one for my husband.

But one night one of the two apples disappeared…
disappeared to our ravenous deer population.

However, for whatever reason, the higher apple remained….
growing into a full fledged apple.

We’ve been watching it.
Waiting to see if it would survive our midnight thieves.

So triumphantly the other evening, my husband picked the apple and ceremoniously
carried it into the house where I proceeded to wash and cut it in half…

One half for me, one half for him….
Cause it takes two halves to make a whole….

Happy Anniversary to us!!!

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself
up for her, that he might sanctify her,
having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
that he might present the church to himself in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and
without blemish.
Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:25-28

“and when my life is over….”

“Where there is love there is life.”
Mahatma Gandhi


(coconut palms at The Breakers, Palm Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

There are days when suddenly, for no apparent reason…
a song, a thought, a memory
pops into the forefront of consciousness.

While we are often left wondering why…from whence, from where and for what?

Sometimes… the whys are not to be understood.

My life is currently a herky jerky roller coaster full of emotions…
The days are punctuated by smiles and accented by endless tears.
Wandering about mostly lost.

And then a song from the recesses of time percolates to the current..
bridging a time that was to the time which is now…
That a random tune from a different season
triggers a memory, a feeling, a thought…
existing now to help assuage the current moment….

“A Song For You”

I’ve been so many places in my life and time
I’ve sung a lot of songs, I’ve made some bad rhymes
I’ve acted out my love on stages
With 10,000 people watching
But we’re alone now and I’m singing this song to you

I know your image of me is what I hope to be
I treated you unkindly, but darling can’t you see
There’s no one more important to me
Darling can’t you please see through me
‘Cause we’re alone now and I’m singing this song to you

You taught me precious secrets
Of the truth, withholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
But now, I’m so much better
And if my words don’t come together
Listen to the melody, ’cause my love’s in there hiding

I love you in a place where there’s no space and time
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song to you

But I love you in a place where there’s no space and time
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you
We were alone and I was singing this song for you
We were alone and I was singing my song
Singing this song for you

we didn’t start the fire

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Billy Joel


(image courtesy ABC News / Santa Clarita fire of 2016)

I agree we didn’t start the fire,
but…..
I’m not so certain that I agree with Billy Joel that we’ve really tried to fight it.

I see the current images of protesters, marchers, demonstrators…
full of contempt and vile discord.
I see the looting, the vandalism, the cars overturned,
the broken glass, the fires started…
once again, in the name of cause.

I hear the rhetoric of anti this and anti that…
the blaming, the finger pointing,the divisive dismissal of one human to another…

Maybe your mindset is that none of this is your fault.
You didn’t cause any of this to happen.
For better of worse you and me, we’ve merely inherited this mess….
right?

As each generation bemoans the generation before it while present generations
opine about the future…

Rather than igniting new fires, fueling fires or fanning fires…
all of which this country has gotten really good at doing,
perhaps it would behoove all of us to simply start extinguishing the fires…..

The one who sins is the one who will die.
The child will not share the guilt of the parent,
nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.
The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them,
and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

Ezekiel 18:20

“Who will save your soul?”

“To save all we must risk all.”
Friedrich Schiller

“poor boy! I never knew you, Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you”
― Walt Whitman

‘You are no saint,’ says the devil. Well, if I am not, I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Sink or swim, I go to Him; other hope, I have none.
Charles Spurgeon

DSCN0801
(Timoleague Friary / County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Who will save your soul…..?”

A lyric trapped inside one’s head, playing over and over and over…
Had it been the background song at the grocery store?
Newly imposed on some uptick television commercial?
Something playing in the distance of one’s small world….?
As it appears to have been picked up at some point during one’s day…
and is now forever stuck on constant replay, deep inside the recesses of the subconscious.

The same line running around and around inside the brain.
Unconsciously hummed, muttered, softly sung…
When suddenly, unable to remain on the periphery…the words come crashing into focus.

More than a simple lyric to an older song.
More than a folksy balard offered up by a young woman long ago
More than a simple soulful melody caught inside your head…

“Who will save your soul…?

It is not merely a lyric, a song or a random musing…
It is rather one of the most deeply profound questions ever to be asked, pondered or entertained.

It is a question that spans the very inception of both time and space.
A question queried for both life as well as death.

If it is to be agreed that each being, each life, does indeed have a soul…
then the question certainly begs to be asked, who or what will save each and every soul?
When all is said and done…who is the savior?
When life, as it is currently known, has come to its conclusion and ceases to be…
be it suddenly and unexpected, stolen simply by time… or be it slow and simply accepted…
What then of the soul?
Does it extinguish itself with the last living breath?
Will it simply be left to float upon the whispers of others?

Will this soul be claimed
Or
Is it all mere nothingness?
A fabrication?
A myth?
A fable?

The question is being asked…Who will save your soul?

Yet the answer, this answer of both life and death, remains for many something oddly to be ignored, left uncomfortably unanswered….

So….
What say you then my friend….
Who will save your soul….?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast
Ephesians 2:8-9