it’s all making sense…or maybe not

“God will judge us not according to how much we endured,
but how much we could love”

Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ

Well, I sat down late Easter afternoon…worn out, exhausted and thankfully thought I might be
starting to actually be feeling a tad bit better…but I
certainly didn’t want to say that out loud.

I wanted to shift my thoughts to something from what I had just finished reading.
It’s a book about a story…the story includes my own yet fully compiled story
oddly intertwined within…
so any talk about all of that is going to have to wait…

Therefore I opted to pick back up a book that you may remember that I had been reading…
reading until things went a bit skewed.

That Hideous Strength: How The West Was Lost
The Cancer of Cultural Marxism in the Chruch, The World and The Gospel of Change
by Melvin Tinker

And I had every intention of offering another tidbit today that really struck me as to
how Mr. Tinker, and in turn, C.S.Lewis, foresaw what was to be the catalyst for
so much of our cultural troubles today….but, something else caught my attention.
Something that required me to put that thought on hold a day or two longer.

I’ve written about Christian Persecution before.
I’ve actually written about it a great deal.

But the trouble is…the persecution keeps escalating.
Not lessening, not keeping an even keel but growing

Now it’s not that I would ever think that my tiny little words could make
much of any sort of difference, it’s just that I feel it important to
speak out—just like I do about abortion.

These things don’t get any better, so I just keep trying to shine a little
light in the darkness.

Since Sunday, nearly 300 people have died from the terrorist bombings which took place in Sri Lanka
during Easter services.
8 bombings total rocked the country with 3 churches full of worshipers, along with three upscale
hotels, being purposely targeted.

The attackers were Islamic extremists.

Western leadership outrage hit the twitter waves…

Hillary Clinton offered condolences
“On this holy weekend for many faiths,
we must stand united against hatred and violence.
I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers
and travelers in Sri Lanka.”

Barack Obama offered condolences for Easter worshipers….
“The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity.
On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal,
we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka.”

But wait…

What exactly is an ‘Easter worshiper’?

Christians go to Chruch on Easter in order to worship…so might they be what the former president
was painfully trying to acknowledge?

Yet last I checked, no one worshiped Easter.

Christians worship, on Easter, the Risen Christ…The Redeemer.

So I think we’re seeing one piece to this puzzling problem…
American leadership never likes to use the “C” word….that being the word, Christian.

But I’ve written about that before.
I’d actually written about President Obama having a very difficult time voicing the fact
that there is actually real persecution against Christians.

And for all his grandiose rhetoric and eloquence of speech when speaking or addressing
a crowd, he could never call a terrorist attack what it actually was…
an attack by Islamic Extremists.

According to a story offered on Fox News back in Janurary,
“An international Christian organization is warning that the persecution of Christians
worldwide is set to rise in 2019 — and it’s calling on the United States to do more to help.

Release International, a U.K.-based charity that helps supports persecuted Christians
around the world and a partner organization of Voice of the Martyrs,
warns that this year, particularly in China, India, and Nigeria, persecution
against Christians is rising.

The story continued…
“These are countries that have long been on the list but we’re seeing
an upwards curve, an alarming rise in persecution,”
Andrew Boyd, Release International spokesman, told Fox News.

“Release has been doing this work for 50 years,” Boyd added.
“I have no doubt that persecution is increasing and it is alarming
and the contexts are different. You have militant Islam in Nigeria;
China, which is communism; India, which is militant Hinduism;
North Korea which is a weird blend of communism and Emporer worship.
There is an increasing intolerance and it’s being played out in violence and
we know it because of the reports that are coming from our partners on the ground.”

https://www.foxnews.com/world/christian-group-warns-of-sharply-rising-persecution-in-these-countries-in-2019

And yet our leaders continue to turn a blind eye while refusing to use the “C” word
or the ‘I E” words…

It was way back in 2014 when I first started writing about Christian persecution.
A year later it was to be a post about Islamic Extremists.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/ostriches-and-ducks/

Tomorrow I hope to tie in what I was reading regarding the catalyst that has lead
our culture into its current abyss and rising attacks on Christianity…

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
2 Timothy 3:12

Lord, I stand in awe

“Lord, help me to make time today to serve you in those who are most
in need of encouragement or assistance.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Fear of the Lord does not mean to be afraid of God.
St. John tells us that where there is love, there is no fear.
Rather, fear of the Lord is to stand in awe and wonder before the greatness of the Lord.
It is to recognize that God is the creator and we are the creatures.
Fear of the Lord should lead us to praise and worship.”

Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM, p.95
An Excerpt From
Daily Meditations with the Holy Spirit

ailing?

“Sin separates us from the presence of God”
David Fiorazo, The Cost of Our Silence


(image of a WWII medic’s bag found on pintrest)

Slowly picking my way through David Fiorazo’s book The Cost of Our Silence,
picking as if I was walking ever so slowly and ever so carefully through a thicket of
freshly ripening blackberries…
eyeing the bushes just so as I closely look for the riper and juiciest berries…
so goes my reading.

And whereas time is also a contributing factor to my lack of speed, I seem able only to
take in a page here and a page there…

I’m jumping around a bit as yesterday I offered a look back to our nation’s backstory
as we took a peek back in time to examine the ideals that the pilgrims had brought with them
as they left family, friends, and home an entire ocean behind…
risking everything, including their lives, in search of a place where free worship of
the Creator would be paramount.

Today I’m going to skip ahead in our story, just a tad before I backup again another day
as there is still much that needs to be shared historically as to why we are the nation we are…
or perhaps that is,,, the nation we were…

However, today, as I was taking in a page here and there…
the following quote really jumped out at me…

“We can (and should) talk much about the love of God,
but we are doing the gospel and those who hear us a disservice if we do not also talk
about sin and the wrath of God.”

For you see this is a bit of a recurring theme of mine…
the theme that there is both sin and wrath…
God’s wrath to be precise.

But no one wants to hear about sin, sinful nature, repercussions, a wrathful God, consequences,
etc…
Because instead, we’ve turned all of that into political correctness and tolerance.

David goes on…
“There are many symptoms of the disease (sin), but God has provided a cure (Jesus Christ)
for the cause and has given us a written prescription (the Bible) to follow.
The Great Physician is always on call, so let us speak about the only remedy and
keep referring people to Him!”

Our culture has no idea that it is ailing…no idea that it is truly sick.
It ignores the symptoms, denies the disease, and discredits the Physician
more and more each day.

Any psychologist will tell you that it is human nature to run through some very basic
emotions when confronted with something really bad and or tragic…
with denial being right up there in the earliest stages.

Churchs today are so desperately wanting to cling to dwindling congregations or to a
youthful generation that is heeding the call of the world, so much so that the Churchs are
compromising the entire concept of sin and God’s wrath. Going so far as to offering a
desperately needy and thirsty people a watered down Gospel narrative…having turned it
into a feel good placebo.

No one ever really wants to hear that they are living wrong, immoral, sinful lives…
they’d rather be patted on the head, handed a sucker and told to go scoot off
and keep playing.

But that is not the reality of our world.
It is not the reality of the Chrisitan faith.

If we do not accept sin for what it is…
If we do not admit that we are in need of healing and saving…
then we will incur wrath…

So rather than deal with such, myriads of folks have opted to simply deny any such thing.
No God equals no sin, equals no illness, equals no need, equals blisful ignorance.

And so we, those remnants of the faithful, who understand that sin is sin, death is death,
Satan is real and that healing and saving are paramount… must speak.

We must speak up, out and loud.

David reminds us that opposition to such talk will be a given.
There will be pushback.
There will be ridicule.

But we must remember from whence comes that pushback and ridicule and to where it is actually
directed.

“Most of us understand in today’s culture that living our faith in public will attract
resistance, ridicule, and even hatred.
If we remember our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12),
we will not take it personally when people come against us.
Their problem is with Jesus Christ, not us.”

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces
of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12)

Palm Sunday and the Copts

“In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt,
and a pillar to the LORD at its border.

Isaiah 19:19


(a Coptic Cross…it reads, Jesus Christ, the son of God)

While Christians gathered around the world to pray, worship and celebrate the
beginning of the most revered and holiest season’s of the Church’s calendar,
two Coptic Churches and their members in Egypt were attacked.

Despite being outfitted with metal detectors, two suicide bombers joined the Palm Sunday
worshipers detonating their explosive packs near the altars of the two crowded churches.
In their wake two holy and sacred places were transformed into grisly crime scenes comprised
of splintered woods, crumbled stone, blood and body parts while lives and families were
transformed forever.

Coptic Christianity is regarded as the oldest sect of the Christian Church.
It is a church that was established by the apostle and evangelist St Mark in Egypt during the
reign of the Roman emperor Nero in the 1st century.

Egypt and the Coptic Church is also home to the inception of Christian monasticism.
History notes that it was in Egypt that both the Desert Fathers and later, the Desert Mothers,
sought the solitude of the desert to pray and in turn build monasteries that have been
in continuous operation for the past 1900 years.

And since 2010, the Islamic State has made the life of Coptic Christians a
living nightmare.

The latest two murderous attacks taking place yesterday during Palm Sunday.
Egypt’s Copts, who have suffered repeated deadly jihadist attacks,
say they feel abandoned and discriminated against by the authorities in the
predominantly Muslim country.

But despite their fears, the Christians of Tanta said they are determined to defend
their faith.

“We’re Christian and we will stay Christian,” one woman said in a defiant tone.
AFP News

As we solemnly enter this holiest of weeks of our Christian faith,
may those of us who are privileged to worship openly and free,
be mindful of our brothers and sisters across the globe who continue to worship
under the black cloud of persecution and terrorism.

Let us pray for the victims, the wounded and the collective Christian families of these two
Egyptian churches.
Knowing that what we take for granted, that of our freedom to worship in relative
safety and security, is not the standard for many worshipers around this fractured world.
May we stand in solidarity as the family of Believers as we continue to
proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Risen Lord…

Alleluia….

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

Isaiah 61:1-3

honor

And when they had come into the house,
they saw the young Child with Mary His mother,
and fell down and worshiped Him.

(Matthew 2:11)

magi-three-wise-men-kings
(6th century mosaic of the Magi / the New Basilica of St. Apollinaris / Ravenna, Italy)

To whom and to what is honor placed…?
where goes esteem, recognition, respect?

The word honor as a noun dates to the 12th century and
to the 13th century as a verb.

Distinction,
tribute,
glorification,
privilege,
adoration,
praise.

It has been both earned as well as bestowed.

It sets apart one from both the ordinary and the average.

It denotes special,
It becomes recognition,
It is to venerate,
It is to worship
and it is to heap praise.

It is to set above.

Entertainers, politicians, leaders and athletes each receive accolades and honors galore.

And yet what of our Creator…

What of the author of all that was, all that is and all that is to come?

That unseen entity that is quickly forgotten and flippantly relegated to the periphery of consciousness?

We dishonor God most deeply when we give honor to people and receive honor from them.
We should give each other love, not honor.
All honor belongs to God alone in Christ.

Eberhard Arnold.

Truly an earth shattering thought….

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under
the earth and on the sea, and all things in them,
I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb,
be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

Revelation 5:13

altars

“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator
as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.”

Augustine of Hippo

dscn0509
(altar tomb in the Rock of Cashel, the Cathedral of St Patrick / Co Tipperary, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

A thick blanket of smoke hangs heavy in the air.
It’s not the result of burning effigies or burning communities
but rather from the woods of North Carolina and northern Georgia which are on fire…
and the winds have shifted…

The sinking grey smoke is a somber reminder that there is a dangerously severe drought…
and the parched land is now beyond thirsty…

Yet there is more to this current drought than simply a lack of rain…
for there is more that is dry than mere vegetation and brush…
And there is more to this endless thirst than a need for water….

Vehemence and anger are filling the air, accented by vile and profane sentiment.
As the mobs march toward the altars of self indulgence and guile.
Immaturity laced with ignorance stokes the fires of rage as the hate filled
smoke fills the nostrils of a nation.

Self absorption and egocentric worshipers have taken to the streets.
They have taken to their computers and to their phones…their current altars of choice.
All the while they shout vile rhetoric as they stomp their spoiled bored feet.

If you must…
Protest against atrocities,
demonstrate against hunger,
fight against killing…
but not because you’ve simply forgotten, or have never known, how to lose.

Young dismayed parents now publicly lament how are they to console their
confused children who cry in fear from the big bad what ifs of hysteria…
simply because democracy has been at work–once again…

Nay, answer with truth…
the truth that one person lost while another person won…
For that is how this game is played…one person wins while one person loses…

Yet ours is a culture currently obsessed with the win win…
because we’ve grown moralistically soft while deciding everyone should be a winner…
We cannot live with the sad notion of losing…
Never mind old adages of always trying again…

There are those who are falling at the altar of womanly feminism…
which is currently shored up by gender neutrality, resentment and anger.
Marching not for policy or real equality but rather for the notion that
the wrong sex was the victor…as the votes which were cast are ignored….

Tears are being shed not because freedom has been lost
or because lives have been lost,
nor because a nation has lost all hope…
No…
rather tears are flowing because an election was lost…

And now we no longer want to play…
Because reality is simply no longer considered fun.
While we have found ourselves kneeling before all the wrong altars…

Ours are the empty altars of hero worship and of self…
the altars of gadgetry, boredom, appeasement and ignorance.
Altars of fear, anger, hostility, emptiness and divisiveness…

For what or whom has become our idol, our god?
Who or what are those hungry deities which have left us empty, sad,
frustrated, angry and resentful…
as we turn upon one another in the feeding frenzy of resentment?

We have gathered before all the wrong altars for far too long…
These altars have left us shallow and empty while also full of loathing and contempt…
We continue to march without leadership and direction…
lost and wandering…all the while lashing out at those we assume to be our enemy…
never realizing that we are all actually one.
One people…one nation…

And all the while hidden deep within the suffocating smoke of our thirst
lies the only One true proven path in which we need march…

Yet we have decided it’s far easier to wander angrily in the parched darkness
while hiding behind the vitriol sputum which oozes forth from our mouths…
spewing out upon our fellow human beings…

As it seems we’d rather choose…
paranoia to Grace
greed to Offering
ignorane to Enlightenment
darkness to Light
death to Salvation
egregiousness to Gentleness
hate to Love…

May we all fall at the foot of the one true altar,
the cross of Resurrection, Salvation, Hope and Life.

The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son,
whom he gave to us and who was born for us,
should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross.
This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made,
but for our sins.

Francis of Assisi

Should anyone be concerned?

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“. . . meekness,love, purity, these are the things that should magnify us.”
― Joseph Smith Jr.

DSC01058

DSC01061
(the mysterious silent beauty of orchids / Julie Cook / 2015)

Should I be concerned that ISIS executed another group of Ethiopian Christians over the weekend?
How many executions does this make? I think I’m losing count. . .

Yet sadly the only thing I’m hearing about such is. . . mostly silence.

Should I be concerned that Boko Haram, the violent Islamic group out of Nigeria, has vowed to follow suit, joining ISIS, creating a deadly alliance, and declaring total eradication of all Christians?
70 million Nigerian Christians most likely are not sleeping well tonight. . .
Oh, and by the way, they still have all “The Missing Girls”. . .

Again, sadly the only thing I’m hearing about such is predominately silence

Should I be concerned that last week, on one of those boats bringing “migrants” from the coast of Nigeria to southern Italy—illegally mind you, that 12 Christian migrants were thrown overboard by several Muslim migrants, all drowning in the choppy seas. . .simply for praying.
Yet with many of the migrant ships sinking on what seems to be a weekly basis, killing hundreds as it is. . .12 Christians is but a drop in the bucket. . .and anyway, this issue has all sorts of concern written all over it does it not. . .yet what does the UN, the EU, the US, Russia, China, or anyone else for that matter who matters, have to say. . .

Again, sadly, silence

Should I be concerned that I don’t hear much in the way of global outrage or concern for the worldwide Christian communities that seem to be living in harms way?
Oh wait, I think the Pope said something. . .
“complicit silence” I believe were his words. . .as in why are the leaders of the world remaining, or better yet, choosing to remain silent?

The Pope gets it.

Why are the global Christian communities, which are not in harms way, remaining silent?
Why aren’t we all standing on the roof tops saying that all of this must stop?

Did you catch 60 Minutes Sunday night?
What of the children being gassed in Syria??
Seeing those horrific images should be enough for any breathing human to utter. .
no more. . .
Are we not yet outraged enough to say a collective NO MORE??

I did, however, recently read somewhere that there is a push for some sort of solidarity in some Christian congregations throughout the US for parishioners to wear orange–a color symbolic of the infamous jumpsuits worn by the executed ISIS captives.

Yet I’ve not seen any news about such, nothing locally or nationally. I’ve heard of no ground swell over such. . .seen no orange out and about. . .

Why are we all so silent?

Why is the Jewish nation, silent?

Why are the atheists silent?

Why are the Buddhists silent?

Why are the Islamic faithful, who are not supporters of jihad and barbarism, remaining silent?

Should I be concerned?

Should any of us be concerned?