courage, courageous or more of the same ol’ lies…

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point,
which means at the point of highest reality. ”

C.S. Lewis


(image from the movie of Hacksaw Ridge)

Okay, so lately we’ve been reading, hearing and seeing a lot being made mention
concerning the notion of courage.

You know what I think of when I hear or see the word courage?

Hacksaw Ridge.

If you have not seen the movie Hacksaw Ridge…well you need to watch it in order
to understand the notion of courage.

It’s the courage of being both verbally and physically abused…not by some twisted
martyristic desire but rather as a result of one’s convictions.
To be beaten to a pulp because you’ve opted to stand up for your Christian faith of
pacifism because you feel deeply called to do your part against the onslaught and scourge
of fascism during a world war.

A subjugation of abuse simply because of your belief and faith.
Ridiculed and maligned because you know deep down, God has called you to serve and you
believe that serving means to do so without a gun.

And as a faithful servant, you know you must answer God’s call…
it is simply what you must endure.

And yet there are a myriad of examples of courage…
it’s just that that one example first came to mind.

Of course, you can walk down any children’s hospital across this Nation and you will
readily see courage on a day to day basis on each and every face of each and every child
in each one of those hospitals…
but that is a different tale for a different day.

However, the courage we keep hearing about these days is a different type of courage.
It is a man-made notion of courage that has been molded to fit neatly into a post-Chrisitan era.

Courage as in it is courageous to come out of “one’s closet”
Courage as in it is courageous to admit to being gay.
Courage as in it is courageous to be born, say, a man, and decide to be a woman…
or visa-versa…only to decide differently agian…and on and on…
Courage as in it is courageous to stand up for beliefs that are for all things progressive
as in contrary to anything conservative or even orthodox…

Yet it seems that this modern-day courageous business hits a speed bump when
one thinks that being courageous simply means to speak out and against middle American
conservative values…

Values such as the concept of a traditional family, sexual morality,
life versus abortion, to possess a strong work ethic versus a governmental handout,
opposition to illegal immigration, patriotism etc…

Today’s society believes it is courage to scorn traditional beliefs.

That is not courage…that is egotistical arrogance pretending to be courageous.

And so when reading our friend the Wee Flea’s latest post,
I am reminded of the importance of courage.

Well actually…it’s from reading his last two posts…
as one is a book review and the other is a piggyback from both the book and
its review as well as a rebuttal to the author.

His is a post that was written to refute the latest adulations over a former Chrisitan singer
(Vicky Breeching / Undivided)
who has let herself out of the proverbial closet and who has written a book describing her
now liberating ordeal as brave because she has been a lifelong victim of
conservative Christianity…

So that’s it now???

As a sinner, one is now simply a victim??

A victim of sin…but what of repentance?
Sin, it seems is now without a cross, without a Savior and without saving Grace…

Well, that certainly lets us all off the hook now doesn’t it…

This woman is currently making the US and UK book tour circuit and has been met with a
resounding level of applause from the liberal press, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
and those of the LGBT sector.

David reminds those of us who remain opposed to any sort of notion of a Biblical
condoning of a homosexual relationship as being perfectly fine that we are not,
in the eyes of God, wrong…
no matter how much our progressive society tries to paint us as wrongheaded
and backward in our thinking.

This new trend that seems to be known as “Gay Christianity” is actually a most
dangerous trend that is working fast and furious to drive a wedge straight into the heart
of the Chruch.

And so David, in his recent post, list points for Christians to hold to and to be
accountable to in this latest fight…
with one such point being that of courage and courageousness.
And it is with courage that we stand united against the growing assault by a
progressive post-Christan culture.

8) We must not be cowards – we respond with courage.

One person wrote and told me that after they posted a ‘like’ to my review on
‘Undivided’, they were reported to a British Government institution for being homophobic!
This is the kind of intimidation that causes many to be silent.
Vicky talks about British evangelical churches putting their heads in the sand and being silent.
She is right. We need to speak out against the intimidation and the lies…
even, or especially, when it comes from those who are pleasant and plausible.
Are you prepared to speak out with grace and truth?
And we need the courage to rebuke those who would take the same view as us but are abusive
and full of hatred.

David concludes his post with a lesson…

One final lesson I have gleaned from Vicky’s book and interviews.
In her woundedness and hurt, she has become a very intolerant and demanding person.
She won’t attend churches that hold non-affirming theology, like HTB.
She demands that churches she goes to should never have someone in the pulpit who says
that marriage should be between a man and a woman –
because otherwise she might be triggered.
(I note in passing that there is not a great deal of humility or tolerance in her approach…’
do what I want or I will condemn you’ is the mantra.
She has also ‘unfollowed’ me on Twitter…which kind of gives the lie to
‘lets have respectful discussion’ –
I find that most liberals are like that –
we have to agree with them, or we are beyond the pale).
She wants the warmth and friendliness of the evangelical church –
just without the evangel.
My fear is that there are far too many of us evangelicals who are dangerously
close to a similar position – in private if not in public.

Liberal evangelicals want a God without judgement, a Cross without atonement,
a Bible without hard things and a church without the Jesus of the Bible.

Those of us who believe in that Jesus must hold fast and not be intimidated or deceived
into giving up on him.
I leave you with these apposite words from that Jesus to the church in Thyatira –
Words that today would see him accused of ‘hate speech’ and condemned by the liberal
evangelicals of being ‘unChristlike’!

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet
are like burnished bronze.
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance,
and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

Nevertheless, I have this against you:
You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet.
By her teaching, she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of
food sacrificed to idols.
I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
So I will cast her on a bed of suffering,
and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely,
unless they repent of her ways.
I will strike her children dead.
Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds,
and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”

An Open Letter to the Evangelical Church about Vicky Beeching and ‘Gay Christianity’

power balance in the middle between Love and Hate

A strong contender for word of the year for 2018 is already ‘hate’.
Every day we hear about hate speech,
hate groups and numerous slogans along the line of ‘love trumps hate.’

David Robertson

I think this time of year, the lead up to Easter, is always a perfect time for those of us
who profess to be followers of the one true Savior, to stop, taking time to reexamine the
notion of both love and hate…that age-old polar opposite condition—
the duality of man.
That constant struggle and fight of the inner being as it is connected to its outer world.

Because if the truth be told, love and hate were, when the dust actually settles,
the true culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

It is the concept of ‘no greater Love’ versus the hate of Satan made manifest in man…
all of which actually goes back to the Fall of man…
of which brings us directly to the foot of the cross…
and will eventually bring us to the final coming again of Christ.

A continuum of the fractured nature…of which Jesus is the ultimate restorer.

And as man so often does, he ebbs and flows with this counter opposite nature of his…
that being hate.

Man spews out hate while shouting all about love…making totally no sense.

Our Wee Flea friend David Roberston points this out in an article written for Christian Today,
The Power of Hate

David writes…
“The relationship between love and hate is very close.
One of the observations I would make is the way so many people use ‘love’ as a badge that
justifies their hatred.
Go on an anti-hate march and feel the hate!
Dare to question any of the current shibboleths in our culture and watch how
the online mob expresses their hate for you, in the name of love.”

You may find the full article here…

The Power of Hate

As we all find hope in the cross of Christ…

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar,
because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the
Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:10-13

a vision of Lent

“Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in
my seventy-five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

dscn2555
(Bonaventure Cemetery /Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook 2016)

Lent…
giving up
sacrificing
doing without
fasting
denial
hard
difficult
arduous
abstinence…

But what is it about this Lent…this entering into the desert…
this time of isolation and self denial….
What brings us here?
Why are we here at this crossroads…
Where is it that we are now bound…
What will be the point of this…
longing,
introspection
and intent of focus…

As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs.
We see his blood as he dies.
We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.
He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were,
in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you.
His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind:
as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you,
so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.

St. Augustine

img_0373
(detail/ painting by Julie Cook)

a vision of Lent

“Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in
my seventy-five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.”
Malcolm Muggeridge

dscn2555
(Bonaventure Cemetery /Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook 2016)

Lent…
giving up
sacrificing
doing without
fasting
denial
hard
difficult
arduous
abstinence…

But what is it about this Lent…this entering into the desert…
this time of isolation and self denial….
What brings us here?
Why are we here at this cross roads…
Where is it that we are now bound…
What will be the point of this…
longing,
introspection
and intent of focus…

As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs.
We see his blood as he dies.
We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.
He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were,
in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you.
His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind:
as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you,
so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.

St. Augustine

img_0373
(detail/ painting by Julie Cook)

Atonement

God may not accept a person to forgive him his sins, without an atonement,
else he must give free license to sin both in angels and men,
and then sin were no sin, and our God were no God.

John Wycliffe

agnus_dei_the_lamb_of_god_by_francisco_de_zurbaran_c-_1635-1640_-_san_diego_museum_of_art_-_dsc06627
(Agnus Dei by Francisco de Zurbaran 1635 / Sand Deigo Museum of Art)

“To be a Christian is…to be a man”;
But what makes a Christian a Christian and a man a man is
“participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life.”

In Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Cosmos, all created things have their origin, goal, and essence;
through the command of the cosmic Christ all creation is set free to fulfill its own laws:
that is, to be genuinely worldly.

However, it is the cross of atonement that sets men free for life before God
in the midst of the godless world:
[The cross] sets men free for life in genuine worldliness.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Reality and Resistance
Larry L. Rasmussen

And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain,
and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Revelation 5:9

limeaide?

Since you cannot do good to all,
you are to pay special attention to those who,
by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances,
are brought into closer connection with you.

Saint Augustine

DSCN4191
(my first limes from my little lime tree / Julie Cook / 2016)

I certainly know all about that seemingly simplistic little adage…
You know the one…
when life hands you lemons,
make lemonade…

Sometimes that seems so much easier said then done…

Plus it sounds somewhat childlike, sappy and far too sweet for the more caustic moments of life.
For it is a far cry from the reality of the nitty gritty lives we are living.

It’s kind of like saying, Life just handed out a pile of crap and now you’re suppose to turn it into something sugary sweet and oh so refreshing…

Not happening.

My lemons on my lemon tree aren’t ripe yet, but the limes are.
Or so I thought they were…
So I wanted to test them…
Turns out they are good and ripe…

DSCN4190

Life right now is anything but a time for sipping a nice long, tall and cool glass of lemonade.

Now granted I did grab a lemonade from the drive through at a Chick-fil-A yesterday,
in-between taking Dad here, there and yon…
and their lemonade is the best I’ve found….
but it’s just that somedays even the thought of a refreshing lemonade falls flat on our hearts….

For life is now hard.
It is pulling while pushing.
It is relentless and frightening at the very same time.
While there is both physical and emotional pain.

A friend of mine recently confided a haunting confession…
that he’s been feeling as if a steel curtain had been drawn between him and God.

I think there has been an almost palpable distance and or dryness.
That there has not been that usual deep spiritual connection between him and God.
His feelings have been dried up and most likely rusted tight.
He’s been going through the motions but simply not feeling the Love as it were.

I think St John of the Cross called it the dark night of the soul.

I don’t know a single Believer who has not experienced living in that dark vacuum at some point of other during the course of their life as a follower of Chirst.

Mother Teresa recounted that she had actually spent the better part of her life
living in that darkness.

And yet we see what she was about doing, during the course of her life,
with that feeling of distance and longing heart…
trudging through the darkness, always moving forward toward the Cross.

The naysayers and militant unbelieving will immediately jump on the
“God is maniacal, mean and even evil” train.
Mocking all who dare to believe…yet seemingly struggle and hurt.
Sharply pointing out that this God of ours sits upon His lofty throne
sadistically watching us squirm in our suffering…

And that’s the thing.

Even when it gets hard, dark and painful…
Even when our hearts and bodies are broken.
With or without feelings…
we muster on toward the Cross…

because we were given the very same Divine example….

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5