Have it your way..

“I’m part good,
I’m part bad,
But,
I’m redeemed”

Johnny Cash


(Burger King Whopper)

I made this confession sadly before but once again, I must confess that I’ve not had
the time that I have wanted, in these past many months to spend reading,
studying and sharing the most insightful thoughts and observations of two of my favorite
across the pond Chrisitan clerics…
those being the former Church of England Bishop Gavin Ashenden and Free Chruch
Presbyterian minister David Robertson.

Both of these men, to me, speak what I call the Gospel Truth.
No mincing the facts nor the words.
I liken it to a small spin on the Popeye mantra…
rather than “I am what I am and that’s all that I am”
they speak in terms of “It is what it is and that’s all that it is”

As in God said it…therefore it is.

They look at this world of ours through the lens of The Gospel.
They look at a post-Chrisitan, progressive left culture that is slowly dying unto
itself, as it is totally unaware of its own demise, while they each continue proclaiming
the saving Grace of Christ…

This as each man is met with the hate-filled rhetoric, the threats of decreased income,
the threats to the detriment to their own safety as well as threats against their
own well being…threats made by those within our oh so post Christian,
progressively liberal culture…
It is a very vocal form of public shaming…
As if such will actually shut up either man and his individual proclamation
of Christ risen.

I actually had some time yesterday morning to thankfully read David’s latest offering,
“Pray for the Nation – Why Should We Be Concerned About The Sins Of The Nation?”

(full link here: https://theweeflea.com/2018/11/27/pray-for-the-nation-why-should-we-be-concerned-about-the-sins-of-the-nation/ )

With the upcoming of St. Andrew’s Day…a day that the Chrisitan Chruch in Scotland remembers
her patron saint and in turn prays for the nation as a whole,
David offers a very telling reflection of life not only in Scotland or within the UK
but rather of our collective life in general in our own Western Civilization.

(oh and by the way, in case you were curious, it is Mary herself, the mother of Christ,
who holds the role of patron saint over The United States of America…
with her feast day being December 8th.
Seems that we most certainly need a nurturing and compassionate mother to care for our
oh so selfish and lost ways…but I digress)

David’s reflection is accompanied by a nod to the writings of John Owen…
a nod he’s shared before.
Owen being a 17th century English Nonconformist church leader,
academic administrator at the University of Oxford and a one-time member of the British Parliment,
was also a prolific writer, sharing his own observations for a wanton style of living that was
just as prevalent in his day as it is ours.

Despite the centuries time difference between Owen’s mid-1600’s and our own early 21st century,
Owen speaks of two distinct ills of society that are both alarming and destructive…
ills that are not only still prevalent but are rather rabidly rampant today.
That being irreligion, or what we define as atheism, and secondly the immorality of a nation.

So what say you?

I say those are the ills that have beset man and his various societies since the dawn of time.
Generation before generation has all bemoaned the same illness.
It is, in fact, a generational ailment.
That being disbelief and an arrogant turning of the back to the Sovereignty of God.

Yet it is vitally important that the clarion call is still to be sounded…
rung loudly for each generation to come as Hope must never be forgotten.

We continue to pray that the scales will fall from the eyes of the foolish and arrogant.

Here is what David had to say…

“Today I want to take a look at the deeper cause of this confusion –
of which Transmania is only a small part.
It is tied in with Romans 1.
The greatest punishment that God could ever inflict upon us is to leave us to what I call
the Burger King version of society ‘have it your way’.
You could call it the Sinatra version (I did it my way),
or the Fleetwood Mac (Go Your Own Way).
But whatever you call it – the assertion of human autonomy and sovereignty is disastrous.
God as man recreates.
Man as God destroys.
John Owen in his ‘Sermons to the Nation’ (Works vol 8) and
‘Sermons to the Church’ (vol 9) is insightful and helpful on this.

Owen asks the question:
“What concern have we in the sins of the day wherein we live?” (Discourse III, vol. 9 p.365)

Irreligion itself can be divided into atheism and false worship.
Atheism is found in the heart (it is not primarily a matter of the mind or intelligence).
Owen identifies four signs of atheism in the nation:

“By horrid, cursed, blasphemous swearing; which is a contempt of the name of God.
And when did it ever abound more in this nation?”.
The answer is today!
I cannot switch on the TV, walk down the street or speak in schools/universities without
hearing coarse, ugly and blasphemous language.

By reproaching of the Spirit of God.

By scoffing at all holy things; as at the Scriptures –
at everything that carries a reverence and fear of God;
so that a man who dares profess a fear of God in what he does, makes himself a scorn.

Contempt of all God’s providential warnings is another proof of atheism.
Never had a nation more warnings from God’s providence, nor ever were they more despised.
Owen speaks of a 17th Century England which is characterised by coarse language,
mockery of the Gospel and a refusal to listen to the warnings of God.
Sounds familiar?

Owen then goes on to speak of immorality in the nation:
“It would be an endless thing, to go over the sins that reign among us:
oppression, blood, uncleanness, sensuality, drunkenness –
all to the height, raging and reigning in the nation”.
But what really hit home to me was his description of the ‘security’ within the nation.

Occasionally there is a wake up call with some disaster and people wake as from a slumber
but soon close their eyes and go back to sleep again.
That is true in the nation – but then Owen asks why Christians should care about the sins of others.

The answer comes from Scripture – Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed. (Psalm 119:136).
Not only do we need to be free from these ‘abominations’ we need to be those who mourn for
them in our nation and communities.

“The name of God is blasphemed, the Spirit of God reproached,
a flood of iniquity spreads itself over the nation,
the land of our birth, over the inheritance of Christ,
over a nation professing the reformed religion;
all things go backward – every thing declines.

Indeed, brothers, if you will not, I do acknowledge here before you, and to my own shame,
I have great guilt upon me in this matter,
that I have not been sensible of the abominations of the nation,
so as to mourn for them and be humbled for them, as I ought to have been.
And you will do well to search your hearts, and consider how it is with you; –
whether indeed you have been affected with these things;
or whether you have not thought all is well,
while all has been well with yourselves and families, and,
it may be, with the church, that may have no trouble upon that account.”

Are we not too secure in our middle class churches, with our comfortable lives?
Have we become so comfortable in the midst of sin that we do not see it with the eyes of God?
Do we weep for the blood being shed (the slaughter of the unborn)?
the damage being done to our children in the name of ideology?
the destruction of the family?
the crass materialism and the gap between rich and poor?
the exploitation of the weak by the powerful?
the replacement of God by the State?
the destructiveness of vice and addictions?
the decline of education?
the culture of death? false religion?
misogyny?
racism?
injustice?
cruelty?
mockery and abuse of our precious Lord Jesus?

It’s a dangerous prayer but perhaps all Christians should pray that the Lord would open our eyes,
minds and hearts that we would see, understand and feel his grief….

Amen!

to be heartbreakingly humble

Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
but thinking of yourself less.

C.S. Lewis

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(the dried faded viburnum blooms / Julie Cook / 2016)

“Amid the sparkle and the color and music of the day’s celebration
we do well to remember that God’s insertion of himself into human history
was achieved with an almost frightening quietness and humility.
There was no advertisement,
no publicity,
no special privilege;
in fact the entry of God into his own world was almost
heartbreakingly humble”

J. B. Phillips

Recently reading a blog post by a Scottish minister regarding the ever growing saga
in the UK over Brexit…the UK’s vote for departure from the EU and the UK’s
courts latest counter order to halt all proceedings…
as it is a continuing sickening rollercoaster ride of will it or won’t it stay….
I was struck by the deep similarities of all things political and Governmental in the UK
compared with our own fracas over this Election…
The haves and the have nots of power elites who toil to establish their will,
the movers and shakers who forget who they are actually shaking,
the liberal biased media outlets determined to bend the will of the people,
the votes that don’t seem to count unless they favor the favored one, so revote until it’s right…

More often than not, the average citizen,
make that the average Christian citizen,
who is currently feeling lost in this political melee and
who is actually fearful of what the future might hold in either country,
now needs to hold fast to the one true Sovereign who is indeed sovereign over all…
despite what others would wish for us all to believe….

“We don’t trust in politicians or in judges who think they are sovereign.
The real sovereignty is with the only real Sovereign.
When the result of this court case came out I felt a wee bit depressed –
not so much because of it, but rather because I thought – oh no, here we go again.
But I was speaking at Abertay University that night on Daniel 5
The Writing on the Wall and was greatly struck by the phrase
“he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all
kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes” (v.21).
This trust in the sovereignty of God does not mean that we are political pietists
who don’t care about what happens.
It just means that we have such trust in the Sovereign Lord that we
recognize that we don’t rule and neither
does Trump/Clinton/Blair/Farage/Corbyn/May/Sturgeon or any of the elites.
And so we can respect those in authority and those not in authority.
We can have peace, even when we see things that disturb, anger and perplex us.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)
David Robertson
Pastor of St Peters Free Church
Dundee, Scotland

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3

“do not seek the because”

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

Anaïs Nin

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

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

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

Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we are immune from getting…
sad,
depressed,
discouraged,
hurt,
angry,
sick,
or at times, even despondent…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=j_wXcwI4IjE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/faith-in-action-why-be-joyful-over-trials/

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

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

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

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