all roads…do not lead to Heaven

I want to be a more serious-minded Christian, more detached from this world,
more ready for heaven than I have ever been in my whole life.
I want an ear that is sharp to know the voice of the enemy,
whether it comes from religion, politics, or philosophy…
I would rather stand and have everybody my enemy than to go along with the
crowd to destruction.
Do you feel that way?

Aiden Wilson Tozer


(massive trees fall across a dirt road / Troup Co / Julie Cook / 2017)

About a month back, following Hurricane Irma, this is what my husband and I found
on a piece of property located in the western Georgia area.

It’s a piece of property he’s enjoyed and maintained for the past 30 years for hunting, fishing, hiking, etc.

Nearly 400 acres of woods and former pasture land with a criss crossing maze of
trails and dirt roads…
Irma saw to it that one of the main roads to the backside of the property should be
blocked by downed trees.

The trees fell across the road from the adjoining neighbor’s land.

Removing the massive oaks would require some major equipment of which we didn’t have,
so the only option was to cut a new road.

Where I saw an impossible passage, my husband saw a brand new opening…
but one that was not readily available.

A new passage that would require some time and hard work on our parts….
Not to mention destroying a large yellow jacket’s nest underneath a massive rock
as well as battling ticks, mosquitoes and watching carefully for snakes.

Yet it was all part and parcel of a massive undertaking if we wanted to
reach the other side.

It took the two of us the better part of the day to first clear a path using
clopping shears, and a chainsaw…
eventually allowing for the tractor and bush hog to make a clear path.

I was reminded of this recent road cutting adventure yesterday after reading
the words offered by a dear friend from Ireland…

A wise friend who admonished me…warning me to be wary of words now being offered
in the name of God…
As in not all words that are currently being claimed by some seemingly knowledgeable individuals are words, as given in scripture, being that of God’s…
Words that are not God’s word to man….but are rather words man is taking as God’s
and twisting them to his own.

He reminded me that the world has a new gospel…
and with its new gospel the world has decreed that any and all roads will lead
to Heaven..it matters not.

My friend noted that it would behoove me, as it would behoove all the faithful,
to see and to understand that the world is now claiming its gospel path as
the road of inclusion…which is a very dangerous gospel at that…”

He encouraged me to trust no one with God’s word.
For the amount of false teachers is growing at such a fast and alarming rate with
this current new notion of the gospel of inclusion…
such that scripture and prayer are to be our only true guide…

Because these false teachers are each readily claiming that any and all roads lead to God..which is a very dangerous gospel thought.

As I am reminded that Jesus, not man, clearly taught us to…
“Enter through the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads
to destruction, and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
By their fruit you will recognize them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons
and in your name perform many miracles?’
Then I will tell them plainly,
‘I never knew you.
Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:13-22

a tisket a tasket, pears in a basket…or the tale of misplaced desire

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus


(a basket of wild “wood” pears / Julie Cook / 2017)

Late September, here in Georgia, is no more reminiscent of what Fall should be
than that of a palm tree currently living and thriving in Alaska.

It just isn’t happening.

Granted the weather gods are telling us that “it’s going to feel like Fall
come tomorrow, yet they preface that with,
but we are still well above the typical highs and lows this time of year….

Sigh….

Throw in the recent sightings of rabid foxes in our county,
the continued proliferation of the fire ants,
this being the most active time of year for yellow jackets, along with the increased chances of running into a copperhead or rattlesnake while working in the yard and most
sane folks would continue hunkering down indoors hoping that
October may be more of a welcoming month for outdoor adventure.

My husband, I know, would have told me “no, don’t do it.”
He would have said stay out of those woods, especially wearing those sandals,
not unless you want to be covered in ticks and bit by a snake.

But he wasn’t home to say those things so it was an out of sight out of mind sort
of moment.

I had to get outside and start the process of digging up and removing the dead,
dried up remnants of summer.
I had to cut back, dead head, and just rid my visible world of the reminders
of what was once vibrancy and color…all of which is now just hot dried up death.

Living on what was once mostly pasture land surrounded by woods, I usually haul my
“debris,” aka cut back dead things, to the woods….to a “compost” pile that never
composts like it should. My husband calls it a brush pile. I like to be cutting edge…
hence, a compost pile…

I also happen to know that there is a lone pear tree deep in those woods
that, this time of year, usually bears pears…albeit every other year—
but I was pretty certain this was the year.

Leaving the safety of my yellow wheelbarrow perched along the edge of the woods,
I gingerly picked my way into the woods….very conscious of the recent tale of
rabid foxes, active snakes and hungry ticks.
As my shorts, tank top and chaco sandals would be no match for the briars let alone
rabies, deadly venom or Lyme disease.
Did I mention the giant spiders?

Spiders who seem to think fall is the season to built profuse webs spanning the entire
expanse of woods so you can walk right into a web and have a full web and spider
stuck on your face.

The sun was cutting down through the trees, light glaring down upon the wood’s
floor, as I turned my head upward searching the overhead branches.
Squinting with my hand held over my eyes, I scanned the heavens
for the objects of my desire.

And there they were.

Giant heavy brown orbs hanging low amongst the leaves.
The tree was ladened with “wood” pears.

I’ve written about wood pears before.
They are wild pears that grow obviously, in the woods….
hence why I call them wood pears.
That is not a scientific name mind you, just an observational name.
They are as hard as rocks, never ripening like a normal pear would
and even the deer and squirrels won’t eat the wood pears.

I did read once that some folks will stew them down in an attempt to make jam,
but my husband has minced no words when quickly telling me not to bother
because he’s not about to eat something that even the wild animals find
disdain over.

Yet the pears beckoned.

I looked around on the wood’s thick debris covered floor, careful as I pushed aside accumulated leaves with my mostly exposed feet as I searched for any early
fallen pears.
The remnants of an old barbed wire fence sinisterly peeked out here and there as
I was careful to avoid adding tetanus to my list of wood worries.
A few pears had indeed fallen as the ants had also found those pears.

Finding a stick I attempted hitting at some of the lower branches,
knocking a few pears to the ground—being very careful that they didn’t hit me
on the head as they would probably have knocked me out as they are that hard.

I gathered about 10.
But the tree was loaded.

I knew I was going to have to find something else that was both long and tall in which
to knock down those low hanging pears on the branches closest to my reach, yet frustratingly out of reach for my stick.

Obviously not satisfied with a bucket of 10 or so pears,
I trapsed back to the house to gather a long rake.
I kept hearing the admonishment of my husband ringing in my head,
as I was wondering what I would do if a copperhead bit my foot while my cell phone
was back at the house.

But the tree was loaded, beckoning for me to get more.
Decorative purposes only, yet I wanted more pears.

And that’s the thing…

These pears serve absolutely no purpose other than being decorative.
And here I was willing to risk life and limb in order to gather them up.

Yet what of a quest of faith?

What lengths would we go to seek God?

Would we risk life or limb to seek Him who has called us by name?
Would we strategize and scrutinize what was needed in order to procure
Him as our own?

Perhaps it’s time we all rethink our desires….

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.

Amos 8:11

Come thou long expected….

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear
a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly
waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:28


(Cross outside Drumcliffe Parish Church, County Sligo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Our son, daughter-n-law and grand dog have all come to stay with us as a good
portion of Atlanta has been in the dark since Irma’s visit.

Atlanta is the type of city where they say a squirrel never has to touch the ground.
The trees are old and plentiful…which is such a huge part of the city’s charm and beauty, but is also a grave trouble during storms…
be it hurricanes, tornados or ice storms.

A tree fell on a neighboring street, taking out a transformer and so therefore we
now have company.

As I was busy in the kitchen last evening, I caught a bit of an interview with Bill
Bennett, otherwise known as Willian Bennett, the former Secretary of Education under
President Ronald Reagan.

I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Bennett’s sound wisdom.

Mr. Bennett was being asked about the growing violence currently coming from
the group Antifa…
A radicalized anarchist styled militant group that favors violence over anything
else as they claim to be fighting against fascism—
Yet the troubling issue at hand is that this group has decided the sitting
President of the United States is just such a person of just such a group and he,
as well as anyone who voted for him needs to be violently taken out….

Bennett notes that there is a growing and troubling support base for Antifa
now coming from a wide range of folks…
with post secondary educators being right in the middle of the mix.
While the latest vocal support is actually coming out of schools such
as Dartmouth college.

It seems this upper crust Ivy League school had a professor who had written a very
public letter expressing his support for Antifa, endorsing their violent tactics.
Dartmouth’s president in turn wrote a letter denouncing any such sweeping
support coming from his school for such groups as Antifa.

This in turn lead to a letter being signed by 100 faculty members who
expressed their support for not their College President but rather for Antifa
and the supporting professor.

And these are the very people educating our youth!!

Dejected, I turned my attention back to the dishes…
lost under the burden of thought.

Suddenly out of the blue I hear a long forgotten familiar tune…
and I’m the one humming it….

Come thou long expected Jesus….

Come, O Long-Expected Jesus
By: Charles Wesley

Come, O long-expected Jesus,
Born to set your people free;
From our fears and sins release us
By your death on Calvary.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope to all the earth impart,
dear desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of ev’ry longing heart.

Born your people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now your gracious kingdom bring.
By your own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By your all-sufficient merit
Raise us to your glorious throne.

http://video.foxnews.com/v/5574320618001/?playlist_id=5410209611001#sp=show-clips

mother and child reunion

I am the hawk, and there’s blood on my feathers.
But time is still turning, they soon will be dry.
And all those who see me, and all who believe in me
share in the freedom I feel when I fly.

John Denver
lyrics
Eagle and the Hawk

(all images of a young immature Red-tail Hawk / Julie Cook / 2017)

I heard him long before I spotted him.
Scanning the tree line I finally located the almost frantic and very intense
commotion perched precariously atop the very tip of a pine tree.
He was “crying” loud and furious…as another hawk made its way to the tree.

Despite his intimidating size, this was a baby…well…
maybe not exactly a baby but more like an adolescent,
yet still more child than adult.
Oddly younger hawks are larger than the full grown adults.
This fussy bird wasn’t acting much better than a fledgling.
Crying for all to hear.

This immature bird was crying for mom…
who did swoop in as they traded places.
Mom took over sitting atop the tree before both birds flew off.

If you’ve never seen a bird of prey up close and personal, they give renewed sense
to simply being Awed!

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

Barking all up the wrong tree…

Don’t tell me of deception; a lie is a lie,
whether it be a lie to the eye or a lie to the ear.

Samuel Johnson


(a pine in the Agawa Canyon River Park, Ontario, Canada suffering with a massive burl
/ Julie Cook / 2017)

Have you ever seen a tree with a large growth similar to the poor pine in the picture above? The growth is known as a burl, bur, burr, knob or gall.
These burls or galls are actually an overgrowth usually stemming from some sort
of stress, fungus or infestation that the tree has experienced.

And often as in life, what is one man’s, or in this case tree’s, disease,
eyesore or infestation, is another’s treasure….
as in woodworkers, furniture makers and sculptors will seek out trees with burls
as the wood patterns inside and underneath the bark is often unique and quiet lovely.

As in actually prized.

For the fibers of the wood’s growth within a burl is very dense and
overlapping. This creates an extremely thick and hard sort of wood—
one that is prized for making bowls and other decorative pieces
as it is very difficult to split or crack and the patterns
make for a very visually appealing piece.

The notion of some sort of deformity, disease or growth being actually
considered to be of value or something quite lovely has made me think
long and hard about outward appearance verses what remains inside and underneath.

The other day when I wrote about Christianity needing her warriors, the good
pastor in Scotland, David Robertson posted on the very same day an observation
that seemed almost to be an exclamation point to my thoughts and feelings.

Now being raised in an American Episcopal Church, in a church that
was known as a high church,
it may strike some as odd that I enjoy reading and often quoting,
as I greatly appreciate the thinking of Pastor Robertson,
a man who represents the Free Church of Scotland—
And mind you his is mostly an evangelical group…
an evangelical group within the Scottish Presbyterian church that broke away
from the mainstream church body in the mid 1800’s…

There is something in his teachings that this more high church
traditionalist has found to be truthful…
truthful teachings firmly planted, grounded and rooted as there is a welcomed
dose of commonsense as well as common ground in the good pastor’s no
nonsense biblical approach…
an approach that does not try to mince or change God’s Word to suit or appease
today’s wash of secularism that is rapidly invading and seeping into
each and every church body.

For I do enjoy his teachings and points of view.
And granted I have read some things that I don’t necessarily agree with,
for the majority of what the good pastor shares,
I’m usually totally 100% on board.

And maybe this Christian faith of ours is a lot like a tree with a burl….

Our varying denominations be they Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Orthodox,
mainstream Denominational has each, at times, caused this tree of faith of ours,
to form an out of character growth.

Yet the fibers beneath the outward deformity are still rooted in the
basis of a single principle and property—
that being that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord and is God’s only begotten son…
A son who died on the cross and rose again three days afterwards…
in order to save each of us, those who so choose to accept and follow,
from eternal death and damnation…

It is our weaving of belief that has been woven taut, creating something
difficult to spilt or break no matter what over the decades
we’ve called our particular selves
nor how often we’ve foolishly tried to destroy that very weaving.

And maybe, just maybe, what is needed now in this world turned upside down…
is for those of the Christian faith to stand united in the face
of what is besieging this world of ours….

Yet the frenetic and liberal press, along with the wanton cultural demigods,
of which have been beset upon our Western Civilization, want
nothing more than to silence those who dare to challenge the unrelenting
din of cultural self promotion and death.

The following quote below is one from the good pastor’s column taken
from Monday’s posting as Pastor Robertson in turn quotes Brendan O’Neill,
an Australian journalist…
and a bit of caution mind you as Mr O’Neill does use some rather strong wording
toward the end of the quote when making reference to politicians.

Brendan O’Neill expresses it best:
“The footage coming out of Barcelona is deeply disturbing.
In terms of ideological hatred, violent misanthropy and utter contempt for
the freedom of everyday life,
America’s neo-Nazis don’t even come close to these Islamist sects.”

“They’re still talking about Charlottesville.

Still.

Even as the barbarism in Barcelona raises the number of European citizens
slaughtered by Islamists since 2014 to *461*.

Four-hundred-and-sixty-one people killed in Europe in three years.
Four-hundred-and-sixty-one.

Let that sink in for a minute.

By extremists who loathe liberty,
democracy and mankind far more seriously than those sad neo-Nazis in the US do.

But don’t look back in anger, eh?

We wouldn’t want to create community tensions.
“Don’t make a scene” — that’s always the response to Islamist terror.

The message is so clear now:
the political set will only give a shit about you if you’re killed by a white extremist.”

LED 5 – Barcelona, Charlottesville – Glasgow Pride – Love is Love – Sarah Champion – The Real Modern Slavery – Google’s Tolerance – Endeavour – Is the Church like an Empty Whisky Bottle? – Kris Kristofferson

With evil running rampant, no longer hidden within the shadows but rather
confidently out in the open and totally out of control…
the world’s leaders and politicians are trying their best to throw
diversions to what is actually the truth.

Now is the time that the faithful are being called to stand united as one,
in the name of righteousness, holiness, morality, values, family and yes,
even freedom and liberty…
while the culturally correct media and sea of blind political leaders
wish nothing more than to have us all barking up the wrong tree…

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?
Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane
the covenant of our fathers?

Malachi 2:10

astrological phenomenon?

The artist, like the God of the creation,
remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork,
invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent,
paring his fingernails.

James Joyce


(shadows of the river birch trees, dappling onto the driveway, during the eclipse /
Julie Cook / 2017)

Did you get to “see” yesterday’s eclipse?
If so, did you simply dismiss the eclipse as just an astrological phenomenon?
Something kind of cool but just one of those moon, sun, star, planet
kind of events?

It was definitely more than….
indeed much more than.

It was not my intention to write a post about the eclipse as I had other
things to “discuss”….but the experience of the moment was something
I felt called to share….

First, there was truly an odd look to the whole of outside when all of this began…
It was a subtle but noticeable softening of intenstiy.
It was as if the glaring August sun was calming herself down…
for just a moment’s reprieve…and I liked it.

The day began like any other August dog day in the deep South….
The sky was a brilliant blue, speckled with only an occasional puff ball of a cloud.
The neighbor’s bulls across the street were in the midst of a rather loud and
raucous serenade of who could bellow the loudest…
And it was hot.
Near 90 degrees while an overhead sun was blazing down in all her glory.
No rain and only sun and heat.
The type of day one prefers to stay indoors verses out,
especially during the heat of the day.

Shortly after 1 PM the yard…the trees, grass, plants…all began to take on
an odd coloring or better yet, tone.
Almost as if twilight was approaching, yet the sun was still
fully overhead, as there were no clouds crossing her path.
Surreal and dreamlike all rolled into one, it was as if you were standing somewhere familiar yet foreign at the same exact moment.

The sky was still brilliantly blue with a sun still glaring above…
and had I not had the pair of solar glasses that my cousin had overnighted to me
when she discovered the ones I originally had were in fact imposters, I would have
found the strange tint to the whole outdoors disconcertingly odd.
Knowing something was happening but wouldn’t have been able to understand what–
or realizing that something was now terribly wrong with my vision or presence of mind.

By looking through the glasses I could see the moon’s shadow making it’s unyielding
journey across the path of an undaunted sun.

By 2:30, just shy of the 94% fullness that we were going to be privy to, the shadows
cast on the driveway were greatly softened and arced, creating what appeared to
be not the shadow of leaves cast upon the cement, but rather that of a gauzy sheer oriental pastel painting spread out ever so lovingly at my feet.
Plus I noticed I was no longer sweating profusely…
As there was a soothing stillness in the air while even the bulls became silent.

Had I not had the glasses I still would have marveled over the welcomed
embrace of stillness,
the temporary dip in temperature and the oddly shaped shadows cast filtering through
the leaves.

Being awake in the midst of a dream is the best description I can think of–
Strange and odd while being peculiarly soothing.
I’m sure that part of my experience is because I happened to be home alone
during this event and not standing in the midst of a crowd…so I can’t
write about what it was like with the masses but rather just me by myself.

There was, for the briefest of moments, a marvelous emptiness,
as well as an all encompassing fullness…
taking place at exactly the very same moment…
no planes were flying over head, no cars whizzing up or down the road,
the bulls were quiet and all bees and buzzing critters had momentarily disappeared.
It was the silence within what seemed to be a different dimension.

Allowing me to marvel in the mastery of our Awesome Creator…

Astrological phenomenon?
Nahhhhhh…….


(images taken with my camera as I put a pair of the solar glasses over the lens)

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Psalm 19:1

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