can you read between the lines or do I need to loan you my glasses?

Others have commented that it was such a powerful message and it should
get people to reading the bible.
Still others that even if it wasn’t spot on we should take the Philippians 1:18
attitude “But what does it matter?
The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true,
Christ is preached.” –
But that is the key question – was Christ preached?
Was the love of Christ preached?

It wasn’t.
David Robertson


(what will be/ Julie Cook/ 2018)

I suppose I should clarify a few things.

I do not describe myself as an evangelical, a charismatic, a reformist, a progressive,
a liberal, a right winger, a holy roller, a Calvinist, a Wesleyan, a Lutheran,
or even a Henry the VIII follower for that matter…although I was raised in his brand of
the church…

Rather simply put, I claim that of being orthodox—-
Meaning that which is “sound or correct in opinion or doctrine,
especially theological or religious doctrine.
Conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early church.”

As in God said it…therefore it is.

It’s quite simple really as there are no mincing of words.
As the mincing of words, God’s word to be exact, is a practice that so many Believers,
as well as nonbelievers alike, deeply enjoy engaging in these days.

It’s a cut and paste sort of mindset.

Meaning we cut out that which we don’t like while pasting in the parts we do like.

We embrace words such as love, inclusive, wide, happy, feel-good, acceptance, united,
renewal and even embrace itself…
all the while rejecting words such as truth, covenant, tenant, consequence, choose,
narrow, difficult, hard, fact…

My orthodoxy is a very far cry from today’s post-Christian, post-modern, anything goes,
feel good ideology that’s currently spreading like wildfire throughout Western Civilization.

And you should know that I’ve tried it my way, the world’s way, other’s way, no way…
but the only way, of which I’ve always learned the hard way, is that in the end,…
it can only be God’s way.

And so when I hear, see and read so much heightened excitement over a sermon delivered
during a wedding that has been passed off as some sort of faith grounded Christian
new age theology, I am perplexed.

In oh so many weeks I have uttered the same words over and over again…words steeped all
within the same and similar vein…
that of false prophets, false doctrine, cultural shifts, culture gods…
as I remind all of us that the Devil’s minions can recite Scripture with the most
sound theologian.

I have long stated that we are at war…

A deep and divisive Spiritual war.

I know that the battles will rage on but the actual war has already been long won…
I know this good news.
This while many of us are left here to continue the good fight.
As well as left to sound the clarion call into battle.

The sheep and goats are being separated.
There is no getting around that fact.

And that is not a gloom and doom prophesy but sound Scriptural fact.
One of those facts our post-Christian society hates to acknowledge.

So when an animated prelate delivers cut and paste words of which our culture
longs to hear is it a wonder we embrace them??
We say “see, he get’s it…”
He uses the right words…words of love, inclusiveness, union, Jesus, acceptance…

But what our itchy ears fail to hear is that the words don’t fit in sequence with one another.

Chunks of mandates are left out.
Entire tenants are ignored.
A whitewashing has taken place of the original facts.
All being passed off as an old Gospel that is actually quite new.

I could hear all of that in his sermon.
Why do so many others not hear?

Gavin Ashenden heard what I heard.
David Robertson heard what I heard.

“I don’t believe that 2 billion people heard the Gospel in this sermon.
The only people who heard the Gospel in it were Christians who already know Gospel.
Instead of rejoicing in the crumbs we get from heretics,
we should be seeking to learn more of Christ ourselves and get out there and tell the world
about the real Jesus – one person at a time!

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
David Robertson.

David has offered a reflection for Christian Today, here is a link to his thoughts with only
more to follow…

Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon – A Distorted Gospel Divides the Church

Not a pretty picture

“If you believe what you like in the gospels,
and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe,
but yourself.”

St. Augustine


(leaf-footed bugs, both adults and nymphs, feast upon the dregs of the tomatoes / Julie Cook / 2017)

Coreidae are a family of sap sucking insects.
In North America these insects are called leaf-footed because of the leaf-like
structures on their back legs.

They are a growing nuisance and attack
or feast upon, depending on one’s perspective,
various plants and fruits by sucking out the juices.

Here in my neck of the woods, these leaf-footers predominately “attack” tomatoes.
A tomato that has been visited by the leaf-foot bugs will have what appears to be
a severe case of the measles…or rather a massive covering of tiny discolored spots.

Not very appealing nor appetizing…
and in essence, seeing a fruit or vegetable covered with a hoard of
sap sucking insects is not a pretty picture….
something akin to a science fiction movie.

Looking at the sad end of a season, with those few reaming dying tomatoes
clinging to the brown and withering vines…
all the while as the leaf-foot insects literally cover the fruit,
sucking out the residual living juices…
I can’t help but think of the current situation of our world.

For the season is quickly fading while only a few straggling fruit remain…
All the while a scourge descends upon the land.
We’ve grown weary, even weak…while there are those who wish to use our
vulnerability to their benefit as they work to take our remaining resolve.

But we are busy, too busy fighting amongst ourselves…
fighting over things of no consequence, things that
have no bearing, things that only have us using our
remaining energies needlessly…the minutia of what is.

While a legion of vermin wait to feast upon our remains.

We’ve allowed ourselves to be preoccupied by
a limited vision as an infestation is taking place.
Before we know it, we’re covered by those who wish
to cause harm before discarding us, leaving us to wither on the vine.

If we persist on reaming within this current season, our
demise, which in essence will be by our own hands, while those who wait to
take advantage of our distraction will feast upon what remains,
will only be a matter of fading time….

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke,
and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching,
but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers
to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth
and wander off into myths.

2 Timothy 4:2-4

abundance

Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head,
and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger.

Saint Basil


(my tiny black Russian cherry tomatoes along with the gifts from a friend/ Julie Cook / 2017)

The Lord has been gracious.
He has given, without hesitation…to us,
His abundance…

Abundance which equates to infinite love..
yet have we been gracious in our thankfulness….

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness
of heart, because of the abundance of all things,
therefore you shall serve
your enemies whom the Lord will send against you,
in hunger and thirst,
in nakedness, and lacking everything.
And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48

degree of separation

“We cannot live only for ourselves.
A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men;
and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes,
and they come back to us as effects.”

Herman Melville


(the fist pickings from the 3 container tomato plants / Julie Cook / 2017)

It has been said that the citizens of planet earth are separated, one from another,
by a mere 6 degrees…
or what some researches refer to as “the small world phenomenon”

“If you just take a look at the numbers,
the six degrees of separation idea seems pretty plausible.
Assuming everyone knows at least 44 people,
and that each of those people knows an entirely new 44 people, and so on,
the maths shows that in just six steps everyone could be connected
to 44^6, or 7.26 billion people—more than are alive on Earth today.”

(excerpt from an article by Fiona McDonald for Science Alert / sciencealert.com)

full article link here:
http://www.sciencealert.com/are-we-all-really-connected-by-just-six-degrees-of-separation

We’ve seen the notion of this “phenomena”,
and it’s original test of theory dating back to the 1960’s…
as it has morphed over the years into a movie, a college drinking game and even to a
broadway play…as it appears that the notion that we are all so closely connected,
seems to hold a deep fascination with the citizens of the globe.

And yet we wonder as to the responsibility that might come with such a
close connection of kinship…..

The idea that we actually know one another by some interwoven intertwined web of
acquaintances apparently holds us captivated.
The notion that we are each one connected soul, connected to other souls,
souls of which we hold on to tightly in our own little circle of souls,
is seen as eerily soothing.
Just one big happy globally dysfunctional family.

And yet the irony found in our desire for unity is that we also clammer for separation.
We want everything about our lives compartmentalized…separated….
while at the same time we painstakingly seek a global connectivity while also
demanding equality for all and a toleration of every
imaginable choice out there…
except for those who choose the Omnipotent.

So our connectivity and toleration and inclusiveness is actually limited despite
the lies we continue telling ourselves to the contrary.

We vie to find our connectedness…one to another…
while at the same time we vehemently fight to sever our, and everyone else’s,
ties to the Creator…

We fight tooth and nail to separate Him from every aspect of our very
independent secular lives..
While at the same time patting ourselves on our backs for an overt
pride found in the general connectivity and the false unity we think we’ve created…
For we claim inclusiveness in our broad reaching connectivity while at the same time
demanding that any notion of a connection to God be erased from thought.

This fickleness of ours will indeed be our undoing….
for we cannot be connected to everything and everyone while pretending
to disconnect our being, our soul, our own, our all from the very One
who knitted us in our mother’s womb….

For we cannot run nor hide from His knowledge and omnipotent presence,
no matter how far we go or how hard we try….
and until we are able to see and understand and acknowledge that He is a part
of even the very air we breathe,
then we will simply continue this petty exertion of our energies while
puffing up and inflating our trite egos of self,
in this endless ongoing emptiness we find so very fascinating and captivating….

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For thou didst form my inward parts,
thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:7-13

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

always optimistic

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank


(my new tomatoes in my “containers” / Julie Cook / 2017)

All my life, I’ve tried to be optimistic.
Yet at the same time….
I am fully aware that there is a difference between being optimistic
verses being a perpetual optimist.

I am optimistic but I also know, as I expect, that the positive will be met by the negative—
as in…for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction…
kind of like a tug of war…..

I have always been fully aware of the notion that if it can go wrong, it most likely will…
It’s like Newton’s Law but more like Murphy’s…

Yet at the same time, I honestly believe that the final outcome can and will be good.
It’s just that it most likely won’t be a bed of roses getting there.

I call that being a realist.

For I can see the trials and tribulations,
the “what if” scenarios,
the “if it can go wrong, it will” sort of life’s moments….
Because I firmly believe in a great battle that is constantly raging all around us…
as in a deeply troubling spiritual battle….

Yet in the end I believe, as I know, that “all things work together for good to
them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28)…
As in the Good guy not only doesn’t finish last but in reality He wins,
And not only does He win, He actually triumphs…
In turn, making those of us who have believed,
the real winners…

So on the one hand, I try very hard to be optimistic and always ever hopeful….
yet as a realist, I know that the end result will not come readily nor easily…
but I know, without a doubt, it will come….

I think we call that perseverance…

So therefore during these day’s of doubt and despair,
in this uncertain time of anger and hate,
in these days of trepidation, mistrust and missteps…
may we each remain ever hopeful…for in the end…
there will always be the winning Love and Grace of God…

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Lessons in a basket

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci

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(a lovely collection of flowers at a street stall in Copley Plaza Boston, Massachusetts, Julie Cook / 2014)

As I still manage to find a few treasures lurking here and there in the now mostly overgrown, rapidly declining and terribly neglected garden, yesterday’s collected basket yielded a few choice items and a few items of the unexpected variety. . .

And as I am constantly reminded, Mother Nature will prove time and time again, even in a hodge lodge basket of late season goodies, that there are always lessons waiting to be learned. . .

1.If you turn your back, even for just a moment, things can certainly get away from you. Remember to always be mindful, be not forgetful and always be watchful. Remember to seize the right opportunity and certainly don’t wait nor leave things to chance.. . because if you do, the okra will get too big and too hard and the eggplant will get too long and bitter. . .

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2. Things are not always going to be perfect—so remember, “life happens”–for good or bad. Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect plan because invariably life happens, Always take the good with the bad–because there will always be good and there will always be bad. Rejoice because there is beauty and goodness even in the not so pretty or perfect–as in again, life happens–pretty or ugly, good or bad.
Remember that an ugly tomato will taste just a good as the pretty vine mate

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3.And just when you thought you had it all figured out, something comes along, putting you back in your place and reminds you that no matter how long you live, you’ll never truly figure it all out. Remember to always remain humble, full of wonder and don’t let the surprises throw you.
Who knew that a gourd of such could be produced along side a nice yellow summer squash—go figure.

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4. And just when you thought it was over, finished, dried up, washed up, dead and gone—life seems to thankfully keep coming. When all the other vegetables have run their course and are drying and dying on the vine, the eggplant is coming on strong! Remember, never ever give up HOPE!!!

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV

knowing when is when and when enough is enough

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Lao Tzu

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
William Blake

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(the image of a dying tomato bush with a leafleg bug ready to take the remains / Julie Cook / 2014)

The air is sticky thick with humidity, it is as if the waning weeks of Summer are doing their best to suffocate the life out of every living creature before she is vanquished from the calendar.
Can we hold on until Autumn?
Until the air changes with a lightness, with coolness, with crispness?
Can we muster the strength to head out into the relentless heat of the final blasts of August’s furnace one more time to water a parched lawn, to walk an exhausted dog, to practice the quintessential game of Fall? Are we ready yet to throw in Summer’s beach towel in exchange for Autumn’s brilliant blanket of color?

As we are now left with the same nagging question. . .when is enough yet enough–when is when when?

Back when I was preparing to throw in the towel to my career in education, deciding it was time to walk away from the classroom I had called home for 31 years, there were those who clamored for me to stay. I dare say there were also those who clamored more quietly for me to “go, please go. . .” but the question more often than not asked was “how did / do you know it’s time?”
How does one know when when is when and enough is enough?

I’m not sure if my answer would be the right answer for someone else wrestling with a decision of knowing when is when but it was one that worked for me. My decision was certainly expedited by my Dad’s failing memory, but it was also hurried along by my oh so very stress ridden and tired body. I had spent a lifetime shoring up my physical self, patching here and there, swallowing this and that just so I could keep going. You know the old saying, a sick teacher is better than a substitute any day.

It helped to some degree that I had also witnessed first hand other individuals who had stayed longer than they should— those who had long lost their charisma, their passion, their vitality, their stamina, their enthusiasm, their enjoyment, their patience, their “love”. I did not want to be that person.
I needed, wanted, to go out on top—not just for my own sake, but for the sake of the program I had spent a lifetime forging.
So, after 31 years, the time had come, when enough was truly enough.

I say all of this as I find myself sitting on the cusp of one season slowly waning, soon to give way, thankfully, to another season. I forged a valiant fight in the garden this year. I documented the journey starting back just shortly after Easter, when the soil was still cold from a lingering winter.

We journeyed, you and I, throughout the early harrowing attacks of wandering and maundering deer, armadillos and raccoons. You read of my battles to stave off a keen and cunning enemy armed with nothing more than Irish Spring soap. You read of my frustrations and wonderment as you shared the images of the emerging fruits of my labors, as well as the later heavy laden baskets of the plethora of the harvest, along with a recipe or two.

Yet I must say, that the time draws nigh as it is soon time to cut and till under the dregs of this season’s work. It is soon time to put away the trappings of this year’s garden, as we will merely wait until the time arrives for next year’s garden—the very garden my husband says, once again, will not be happening.

I know it’s time when the weeds outnumber the plants. When the ants threaten to make off with me as their mounds could possibly swallow me whole, when the maypops sprout, when the tomatoes “fire up” as a slow drying and dying begins to take place. . . and when, most surely, the leaf legged bugs arrive.
And yes that is their common name. . .

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They are the Coreidae–members of the hemipteran, suborder Heteroptera—kin to the stinkbugs but thankfully, do not seem to emit an odor or perhaps it is overcome by the decaying stench of rotting tomatoes wafting heavenward.

Each year, late August, these alien looking insects descend upon my remaining tomatoes with a vengeance—with this, more or less, being a direct result of my having allowed them to move in. Days may pass before I venture out to what is now an overgrown and overrun patch of land that once held great promise. The heavy heat and humidity, and the endless battle against weed and insect, all by late Summer, has witnessed my having thrown in the towel, allowing Mother Nature to take back what is rightfully hers.

As I pick through the dried and dying vines, seeking the dregs of remaining ripening tomatoes—those spared black rot or still intact and not bursting on the vine from the ill effects of late rains, I am nearly knocked over by the ariel assault of leaflegs fleeing my encroaching presence.

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The official end of Summer is upon us next weekend with the annual return of the long Labor Day weekend’s last hooray. This is our signal, our beacon, our cue that change is forthcoming.
I for one do not need a calendar to be reminded. I have the leaflegs. These alien like insects who act as either harbinger or hearalder of the change of things to come.

The time for when is now as it is more than time that I’ve had enough—

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“The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.”
― John Adams