and the winner is…

“Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth,
I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what
Thou hast done already.
God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums
I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.”

A.W. Tozer

Ok, so maybe we don’t exactly have an exact “winner”—not just yet…
maybe it’s more like a photo finish…

As a teacher, a facilitator, who encourages open classroom discussion and dialogue,
I asked a question in yesterday’s post.
A question, or perhaps a challenge, posed to those who often gather here to come up with
a focused prayer…a focused prayer prayed by those of us who wish to join together
in order to implore our God…
imploring for grace, mercy, forgiveness, and help.

Unified voices lifted upward in unison for an exact detailed request.

Given our dire straits in this world of ours…prayer is needed more than ever.

And yet the responses have been slow to trickle in…

And as the consummate educator, that I once worked hard to be, I take responsibility for this.

So now we need to pare down and whittle away the broadness of all of the thoughts and ponderings
that came in today, working out the verbiage until we have a laser-focused and precise
offering to God the Omnipotent.

But with all of that being said, I will say that Wally gets a smiley face participation sticker
for his quick and enthusiastic response this morning!

And we must always give Vincent a good citizenship sticker for his generosity and desire to
always share.

Plus Citizen Tom will receive the communication sticker for his shared call to prayer.

And to Jeff, Kathy, and Fran…well each of them shall receive a gold star
for their excellent suggestions…

And Jim, well, Jim will get a lightning bolt sticker for his high achieving energy!

You know us teachers…we love our stickers! 🙂

So with all kidding and fun aside, I will now share what I think we’ve come up with
in regards to a specific prayer…

However I will say that when I first mentioned praying for our Nation,
I was actually being too limited with that notion…

It’s not quite fair to be praying for just our Nation and our Nation alone…
as we have a lot of members to this little blog family of ours who are not
from this Nation…
And so, therefore, it is not right to say that we must pray solely for the US…

Of course, it’s not!

What of England, France, Germany, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Canada
Egypt, Israel, India, Ukraine etc…those who also gather here..?

So no, we won’t be praying solely for the US.

A process of elimination…now we have a start.

Remember we want to be precise and specific…nothing overtly broad and sweeping
but rather focused and specific.

So here is Kathy’s initial comment:

There are so many topics, but if we pray for a return to God and place our trust in Him alone,
I believe the door will be opened for all the other prayers to be answered.
The only way our land will be healed is if we do so.
Part of the problem is that the nation doesn’t want to acknowledge sin and because of that,
it has created a selfish, spoiled, entitled population that has little or no care for others.
Prayer will link us as Christians as well.
When we all pray to the same God – the Only God –
we become more and more united and great things will come from it.

And now Fran’s initial comment…

Julie, I agree with Kathy.
“Let’s start at home.” ~ meaning our own hearts and households? It must begin here.
We all have beams in our own eyes. We, as His people, are the light in the darkness,
but as Jesus noted in the Sermon on the Mount, our eye must be single,
returning our focus upon Him for anything lacking in our own lives and the life of His Church.
I pray for the Lord to turn HIs people in repentance first for our own sins,
and guidance for the Holy Spirit to intercede for us. When the world sees a difference in us,
they might be inclined to listen to God’s direction. All is according to the power of His Holy will.
He must show His presence among us to lead. We need a revival among HIs people.
(Sorry to take so much space. You opened a flood-gate.)
Blessings. 🙂

me:
no, Fran—a flood gate is great!
but tell me…
what is the specific prayer—–for our own eyes and hearts to be opened–-
or for our nation’s return to God??
It’s the teacher in me to ask the specifics 😉

Fran:
Julie, you quote 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people humble themselves.” Then, “if two agree.” What should be our prayer?
Should it not be that we humble ourselves with all God’s people,
seek HIs face and “turn from our wicked ways.”
The prayer was for God’s people, not for other nations.
The church as God’s people must return in obedience to Him.
We are the only light, the only nation that belongs to Him.
America is not a nation that will return to God.
It is alien to God.
Even Isaiah asked how long things would be under God’s judgment upon Israel..
God answered him in Isaiah 6. We do well to read and heed God’s working in the past,
so as to know what to pray.

me:
then shall it be for a unity of God’s people?

Fran:
Yes, plus an awakening to the truths of His Word that makes us light in this darkness and
an example of true Christianity.
Thank you for opening your post to comments.
Blessings.

me:
and thank you, Fran, for your Spirit-filled insight.
I’m throwing this all out there tomorrow…
bringing it all together in a concise thought—
now we just need to settle on a time

and fianlly here is Marie’s well-grounded comment:
I have read all of the comments so far.
What puzzles me is that she asked two questions…
what do we pray for and how.
I feel that we are to select a time when as believers we pray for unity and peace and
Our Lord’s blessings on our country.
No one has said when or how so this is my thought…
choose a time..say 6pm daily to come before the Grace of God asking Him to intervene
in the lives of our people and those in authority over our beloved country.
He does answer prayer. It does not take the prayers from all of us for Him to answer
but it is a way that we, as His people can draw together to ask His blessings.
Thank you Julie for your daily blog.
It has meant a lot to me personally.

Isaiah’s Commission
6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.
2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings:
With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet,
and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and
the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand,
which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
7 With it he touched my mouth and said,
“See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.[a]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”

And he answered:

“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

And so we are commissioned.

We shall pray for the unity of the Faithful first…that being us and our own hearts.
A prayer for the unity of the believers of the blessed Trinity
Then we shall pray that our hearts may be humbled…
and then we will pray that we will become the reflection of God’s light…
a light that will shine into a darkened world.

Add your thoughts or adjustments…and now…tell
me what is to be our specific prayer time…6PM as Marie suggests…or another time??

Keep it coming my brothers and sisters …

atheists ain’t got no songs…..

Do not be afraid.
Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

John Paul II


(Steve Martin appearing on David Lettermen singing Atheists ain’t got no song / 2011)

When I scanned my emails and saw that I had a notice of a new posting
from a blog I follow, I opted to investigate a bit further—

I realized there was actually a videoclip in the posting that was sitting at
roughly 42 minutes…
I wasn’t really certain I wanted to be contained for almost three quarters of an hour watching a videoclip in the middle of the day.

There were things to do.

How could I justify sitting at the kitchen table watching a video clip for nearly 45 minutes….what about the cleaning, the wash, the filing, the bills, the shrimp…
the shrimp that needed deveining for this evening’s supper….???

I am a person who isn’t one to sit around.
I am a doer and constantly moving about…as something always needs tending to.
Sitting in the middle of the day, listening and watching a videoclip is a little
hard for me to justify

45 minutes, really??!!

Yet I was curious.
And I also do quote this man all the time.

I am constantly offering this man’s teachings, his preachings, his defenses,
his proclamations…to you…and so do I not owe it to you to really
know a bit more about him????

Of course I do.
If one wants to be truly credible, one must invest time and understanding
before sharing.

Yet I’m not Scottish…well that is… not me exactly but in heritage, yes.
I’m certainly not a Presbyterian nor am I an Evangelical…
I’m still an Episcopalian by name…but just one who happens to no longer
agree with the direction of the Episcopal Church.

What I am is a conservative Christian who believes in the importance of
spreading the word about God, Jesus, sin, death, life and salvation….

So perhaps I needed to invest the time.
Something was nagging at me to give it a look.

I clicked on the video and after about 2 minutes in, I stopped it.
I knew I needed a pen and paper as there was much to be writing down.

David Robertson, the Reformed Presbyterian Minister who heads St. Peter’s Church
in Dundee, Scotland had posted his latest blog post in which he was offering
a videoclip from address given in 2010 for the Christian organization that he
is apart of, SOLAS.
And despite the videoclip being nearly 8 years old,
David had stated that if one really wanted to understand what he was about,
this was probably the best explanation.

The Christian group there in Dundee named SOLAS—was something I really had no idea
about or what it was, I just knew it was something he had his hand in…
but now know—
Solas is a Gaelic word meaning Light—and that Light is the Light of Jesus Christ….

If you visit my world here often, you hear much reference to David.
I found him via this little blog world of ours.
And when I read the things he was writing on his Wee Flea blog, I found myself
most often in total agreement, not all the time mind you, but most of the time as
I’d find myself nodding and offering a silent “Amen”

And as I don’t always agree with everything…
I’ve yet to meet a Christian who is usually 100% with another Christian—
heck most folks find something to disagree over with their own priests, pastors or minister. I don’t know any Christians who totally agree with
each and everyone’s doctrines or denominational background…but at the end of the day
if the bottom line is Jesus Christ for each of us then that is truly our common ground.

Doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or Baptist, Pentecostal or Greek Orthodox…
if Jesus Christ…His birth, his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection
is the chief cornerstone in your life—then we are all on the same page.

I had not read any of David’s books.
I hadn’t even heard of him before…but it seems he was pretty famous for
having debated and besting the avowed Atheist Richard Dawkins.

He even went on to write a book that acted as a Christian follow-up to
Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.

So today’s videoclip, which I’ve attached below was indeed enlightening.

It made me think of Wally’s little meme and comment yesterday which was
“If somebody took a poll of 10 of your acquaintances and asked them the most
notable thing about you, how many of them would say:
“Oh they really love Jesus!?”

(https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com)

This really made me think.
I told Wally I’d probably get “good wife, good mom, good cook,
good teacher’…..but would anyone start with the fact that I do love Jesus,
proclaim Him as my Salvation…have I simply done that more inwardly and
just for self….??
I wasn’t sure I could answer that “thought” and even told Wally I
had been given much to ponder.

I will spend some time over the next couple of days focusing in on some of the key
thoughts I took away from watching David’s video.

He did offer something rather hilarious and that was a mention of Steve Martin singing
the song Atheists ain’t got no songs.
He said if you’d not heard it or seen it, google
it, it was worth the look….and it was!

It was a clip from a David Lettermen show and in true Steve Martin form,
it is hysterical while ringing of so much truth…

I don’t know about Steve Martin’s religious beliefs but I think he leans
toward agnosticism….but no matter, as I thoroughly enjoyed the song…
I think you will too

Plus—do yourself a favor, carve out the roughly 42 minutes to listen to David’s
address.

It matters not that his focus is the Church there in Scotland.
Scotland has a rich Christian history—and was once the loudest Evangelistic voices
in most of the world…but then something happened…just as it is happening here
in the US.

It matters not that you may be Lutheran, Anglican, Southern Baptist, Methodist,
etc…the message is the same.

And I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again…it was a quote from the
former Anglican Bishop Gavin Ashenden,
“It is the secular culture that is attracting many believers”—as more and more
people leave the Church, preferring the worship at the altar of the worldly….

There was a time when my mom, God rest her soul…my quiet, shy and very Episcopalian
mom would have warned me not to be talking about such…I wouldn’t want folks to think
I was some sort of nut, religious fanatic or “Jesus freak” or God forbid,
part of a cult…
but I would have to now say to mother, what better time then now Mom?
What better time than now….?

Give me Scotland or I die

see you at the pig….

“The paradise of my fancy is one where pigs have wings”
― G.K. Chesterton

The pig and the chicken were on their way to breakfast,
trying to decide what to have.
When chicken said,
“Let’s have ham and eggs.”
The pig then replied,
“That’s fine for you,
it’s a small donation on your part,
but it’s a total sacrifice for me.”

anonymus


(my view on the interstate / Julie Cook / 2017)

As most of you know, my corner of the world has been anything but happy.
Dad is hanging on by a thread…on a very much borrowed thread of time…
And given that it is all just a terrible time, I’ll spare you the dreadful details…

Plus, I am just very very tired…

However…

I learned long ago that it is in the little things found in life that we can truly
find a little piece of happiness and or comfort…

So while I was mindlessly moving onto the ramp to merge from I-20 to 285
Thursday morning, I suddenly realized that the happiest of faces was actually smiling…
at me!!
Nobody smiles on the interstate and to be honest,
I can’t remember the last time I actually
saw a genuine happy smile coming my way….

When I finally tuned in and focused one the back of the tractor trailer truck
in front of me, I saw the Piggly Wiggly Pig smiling and happily inviting me to visit
his neck of the woods..
It was then that I actually felt my face move…as in I too started to smile.

And naturally I had to take a picture because I wanted to share this momentary slice of
happiness with someone else who might just need a smile coming their way as well!

So here’s to happy smiles…
which in this case just so happens to be courtesy of the Piggly Wiggly Pig!
May you receive some genuine smiles your way today!!

(also, I’d like to dedicate this pig to both Wally and Kathy—sooouuuiiiieeeeee)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.

Psalm 34:4-5

bitterness

“The fiercest anger of all, the most incurable,
Is that which rages in the place of dearest love.”

Euripides

“Up from behind a sand dune close beside her rose the form of her enemy Bitterness.
He did not come any nearer, having learned a little more prudence,
and was not going to make her call for the Shepherd if he could avoid it,
but simply stood and looked at her and laughed and laughed again,
the bitterest sound that Much-Afraid had heard in all her life.”

Hannah Hurnard, Hinds’ Feet on High Places


(image of wormwood)

Anyone who spends any amount of time in a car alone… commuting or traveling…
knows that such time is spent basically as a virtual prisoner of one’s car…
yet it is time spent providing one with ample time for thought and reflection.
That is if the radio isn’t blaring or you’re not jabbering on the phone.

Finding myself commuting to and from Dad’s these days….
Just one way I am alone in the car from anywhere from a little over an hour to upwards
to 4 hours and beyond given the happenstance of life on Atlanta’s interstates….
One little wreck or stall or the never ending construction projects…
and I can find myself with plenty of “alone” time in which to ponder, reflect or fret…

The other evening I found myself quickly playing catch up with some of
my favorite blogs.
One of my brother’s in Christ and his wife are currently in Israel.

This blogging friend has been dutifully posting pictures of his trip along with a bit
of historical commentary as time has allowed.
I’ve enjoyed playing virtual tourist as have others who read his blog.

Yet sadly there have been a few commentators who have been very negative and even critical
of my fiend’s trip….likening such a trip to Israel, Jerusalem in particular,
as a type of Disneyland experience.

Now I understand that any sort of historic tourist draw is going to have its fair share
of those hawking to make a fast buck made on the backs of unsuspecting tourists.
Think posing with Roman clad gladiators outside of Rome’s Colosseum…paying
upwards of 20 to 40 euros for a shot and you get the idea of money being made
at historical sites.

I experienced a very similar sordid encounter at another overtly tourist site
on a trip once to Pompeii.
Pompeii being the ancient Italian city, just outside of Naples, that was destroyed in the year
79 AD by a catastrophic eruption from the volcano Mt Vesuvius.
The city is frozen in time and is a sad and eerie testament to what it means living in the
shadow of a volcano…

Pompeii is an ongoing archaeological site as well as a protected and perseved historical site.
Buildings have been identified as various homes, governmental offices, stores….
as well as the identification of even a local brothel.
Pompeii was a port town and well, one has always heard about sailors on leave…

The brothel was readily identified because of the stone carved man’s genitalia placed above
the threshold of this particular building.
It seems that the locals now capitalizing on the universal interest in sex and so
replicas of this particular “carving” are for sale all over the area outside the city gates.
Think Disney and Mickey’s ear and Pompeii has, well, male body parts for sale.

So I get the whole Disney mentality of tourism…
But there was more to this viewer’s comments than that of causal observation…
as his comments actually turned bitterly hateful.

For you see, this particular blog visitor is an avowed nonbeliever.
He is not a stranger to my friend’s blog, my blog, nor others who profess to
be believing Christians.
It would probably be more accurate to note that this fellow is a former believer now
turned ardent atheist.

I don’t know much about him but that he enjoys taunting Christians.

His taunts on my friend’s site, concerning this trip to the Holy Land, actually
began to border on almost sick…even as he alluded off color to my friend’s wife.

So naturally when I found myself in my car, alone, I began to recall those vicious words,
as well as the words of those who did not care for this
“raining on the trip parade” as it were.
The volley of insults began bouncing back and forth…

What I do know is this man lost his father several years ago—
to cancer is my understanding.
That he was a believer and also what I understand was actually a minister.

I realize that by watching those we love who suffer,
grievously suffering in anguishing pain,
can certainly test and try the faith of the most ardent among us.
And I must confess that I’ve been known to raise my fist to God during the various trails
throughout the course of my own life… so I do not begrudge anyone those emotions
of sorrow and frustration associated with heartbreak and agony.

Yet as I ruminated over those rather wicked words…reflecting even on the tone
to which they were delivered…
only one word kept coming to mind…
bitterness.

Pure unadulterated bitterness.

Bitterness, according Merriam Webster, is a deep-seated ill will caused by anger,
distress or sorrow.
Chances are we have all experienced bitterness or its fist cousin resentment, at some
point during life.

Yet bitterness which is not eventually banished, takes root within one’s being…
Allowed to fester and ferment it is easily recognized.
It is highly unattractive and the outward seeping and spewing of bitterness,
which easily bubbles up to the surface,
is readily and regrettably tasted by any observer.

Bitterness creates an isolating barrier…
Repelling anyone who dares to offer an open hand.

Bitterness is not a welcomed human trait nor is it tolerated for long by others…
It becomes a never ending cycle of brokeness….
as bitterness simply begets more bitterness…

It seems to me that more often then not, non-belivers and bitterness
often walk hand in hand…
whereas the followers of Christ are grounded in what many note as
an unexplainable settled peace…

So as I continue my journey of commuting and ruminating,
I know my friend is throughly enjoying his trip, just we are…
those of us who are enjoying reading of his travels as we
enjoy being virtual tourists…

As one thing I have gleaned…there is certainly no time for bitterness when one is selflessly
sharing with ones friends…
Happy travels Wally….

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32