The Persecution Line

“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

2 Tim 3:12-13

This is a discussion prompt, not a declarative blog per se. I want to know what you think. The heat is being turned up as people debate Afghanistan, COVID, and the best way to manage threats to public health and civil liberties. Lots of people, Christians especially are viewing it through the lens of persecution for which there are varying definitions. We know that the church is being persecuted in places like Afghanistan, China, Iran, Ethiopia, Mozambique Nigeria, etc. And while it would seem that the seeds of similar future persecution have been sown in the 1st World West, the fact remains that people are not being incarcerated, blown up, and beheaded for preaching the gospel. Given that we still have the freedom to debate whether or not we are being persecuted, I figured now might be a good time to ask, what qualifies as persecution and

what is the correct biblical response to it?

You may have heard about James Coates and Aurter Pawarreski, two Canadian pastors who were arrested for continuing to hold regular church services.

It’s almost old news now but it sparked a fiery and ongoing public debate. 

James Coats remained respectful while claiming the government has no authority over worship before turning himself into police. Artur Pawlowski is a Polish immigrant who repeatedly kicked health inspectors and police out of his church calling them “Nazis”.  He was still screaming ” Nazi!” and “Gestapo!” when they arrested him in the street. His supporters did the same from the sidelines. Artur Pawlowski is from Poland and his family suffered under the Nazi occupation and then Russian communists. 

He may understand more about what is coming than those of us raised in the entitled west.

Then there is the 71-year-old Pastor Sherwood arrested in London while  delivering a message on the sanctity of marriage.  His message was viewed as  homophobic.

There is no Biblical basis for homosexual marriage. Still, Sherwood wasn’t attacking homosexuals. He was defending the sanctity of biblical marriage on the basis that is a representation of Christ’s relationship to His Church.  He wrestled with the police a bit before they got him in handcuffs. Sherwood was preaching the word of God in a public square as it has been preached for the last two thousand years. It always has and always will anger certain people. Apparently the police were trying to defuse a volatile situation and he was later released. The Canadian pastors were incarcerated. In this case they claimed their authority superseded that of government officials based the constitution and Heb 10:25

“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

They view this passage as an absolute command rather than an exhortation to endure persecution. Hence they adopted Peter’s defense in Acts 5

“We must obey God rather than men.”

I could be wrong but the historic context of Hebrews 10 where believers risked imprisonment and death to gather, seems more akin to what is happening to believers in places like Afghanistan than those protesting COVID measures in the west. That’s not to say that I like or in anyway agree with what it happening in the west.

Only that the scriptural argument seems rather weak.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government and the pastor’s detractors insisted that it was a public safety issue and that no one told them they could not meet. They just had to comply with COVID health standards. That meant no more than 15% of capacity at a time. After all, there are fire safety regulations related to the size of public gatherings in buildings. The Pastors replied that this would require them to do an impossible eight or more back-to-back sermons per day. They asserted that censorship of their preaching was the real agenda. I understand and empathize with their passion as well as skepticism regarding COVID data on both sides. Still, what is the biblically correct response to authority when I do not agree with it? Where exactly is the boundary, the proverbial line in the sand that I must not cross?  

What is the deal-breaker, the proverbial hill upon which I must be willing die?

There have always been evil people who abuse scripture for the sake of an agenda. Jesus versus Satan in Mat 4 is a good example. Another would be how Adolf Hitler duped the Catholics and most of the German protestant church with  Rom 13,

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…”

The standard argument against blind obedience to this passage today is rooted in verse 3

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 

Our obedience is contingent upon the Government doing good. Otherwise, Peter’s declaration in Acts 5 applies. Yet context matters. Peter and the other disciples were specifically ordered to stop preaching the Gospel in Acts 5.

While the proverbial jury may still be in session regarding vaccines, there is a difference between bad, albeit well-intentioned public policies and carefully planned genocide.

Today we have places like China, Afghanistan, and Iran imprisoning, torturing, and killing Christians. China was officially exposed for harvesting the organs of  Falun Gong and Uyghur Muslims in 2019 when even the UN had to acknowledge it. I don’t see anyone protesting it apart from Uyghurs and Falun Gong themselves. The western Church acknowledges persecution but hardly anyone is on the streets engaging in civil disobedience. We also have the abortion genocide taking place. There have been a minority of fools using physical force to oppose it, the strongest opposition has been in the form of legislative battles and churches preaching the gospel while providing an alternative path to adoption.

I can not help but wonder if those supporting and or protesting COVID measures are genuinely concerned for the well-being of others, the violation of God’s law, and the persecution of His image-bearers.

Or does persecution only matter when it is happening to them?

In any case Mat 16:25 Mat 10, Mark 13:9–13, Luke 21:12–17 are worth considering.

Today more and more people in the west seem willing to go to jail or worse over masks, social distancing, and vaccine passports. Again, I’m not saying that I agree with government policy and MSM narratives. As I have said in the past, I DO NOT! I could be wrong but as time goes on I am increasingly convinced that whatever the actual agenda may be, our health and well-being are NOT it. I am also convinced that at least fifty percent of the global population, and I’m being generous, has ZERO ability to discern and filter fallacious arguments. Most simply choose a political tribe, open their mouths, and swallow the corresponding narrative like baby birds in a nest. I guess this affords them the illusion of safety and inclusion.

If I were the devil I’d be giddy as hell.

Hence, we must contend with the fact that Jesus beat the devil through submission as exemplified by the cross. As for us we have hard truths like that proclaimed by Peter in 1 Pet 2

“Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul. Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, (unbelievers) so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.  For it is God’s will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.  Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1 Pet 2:11-17

Candlesticks of Christianity

I say “hard truth” because Nero was the emperor to whom Peter would have been referring at the time. Among other abominations, Nero is known for burning Christians as human candles to light the streets of Rome. It was under Nero that Peter was ultimately crucified.

He was killed for preaching the gospel not demanding his rights.

Whether or not the current global trajectory will be interrupted by opposing social and political forces is anyone’s guess. If I were a betting man I’d be all in on NO. Meanwhile, MSM narratives are becoming increasingly absurd. I’m not sure if this is indicative of their desperation or their arrogance.  Still, the fact remains that left unchecked, our current trajectory can only lead to Mat 24:1-13. I know people are cheering the new abortion legislation in Texas and rightly so as it is a dent in the ongoing genocide.

Still…

I suspect that any small victories on our part now will mainly serve as fuel for what is coming in verse 9.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”

People hate us now for our biblical stand on abortion when we have little to no power over it. Imagine if Roe V Wade were overturned. Hence, our first, but certainly not our only concern within the body of Christ today should be verse 10.

“And then many will fall away (be offended) and betray one another and hate one another.”

The temptation for believers to be offended at one another on political grounds and deceptive MSM narratives will only get stronger. Offense is “Skandalon” in the Greek.

Skandalon means “trap”.

Perhaps you think this is hyperbole. Maybe you are still holding onto hope of the imminent return of the comfortable norm. If that is the case then old existential reality has yet to I for one believe we need to prepare the body of Christ to endure the coming persecution in a way that most glorifies God. Our sermons and conversations with one another should reflect that.  According to Voice of the Martyrs when a Muslim in the persecuted middle east surrenders to Jesus it is with the understanding and condition that they are willing to be persecuted and martyred for the sake of the gospel.

They are given zero hope of experiencing their best life now.

Perhaps you have already embraced this reality. If so, great. Now help to prepare others.  Still, I invite everyone to take an inventory of their lives and ask, “what evidence is there in my life that would suggest that I am prepared?” “What if anything needs to change?” “What is stopping me?” It’s no coincidence that Richard Wurmbrand the founder of Voice of the Martyrs saw persecution coming long before the Russians invaded Romania, long before he was thrown in prison and tortured for 14 years. He memorized 365 scriptures, one for each day of the year countering fear.  He went into persecution prepared to glorify God. That is exactly what he did.

His preparation continues to bear fruit today.

It also occurs to me as I write, that I have several competing points of view within my own mind. Maybe you can relate. There is the old man, the satanic fleshly former US Marine ready to throw down for “My rights damn it!”.  Then there is the logical, argumentative, apologist that abhors skewed data, logical fallacies, and especially the cult of scientism.  This part wants to believe that given enough evidence and a clear enough argument, most people will make the smart decision. Then there is the new man, the born again, spirit-filled, Acts 17:11 Berean style believer who stands on the 2 Tim 3:16-17 God-breathed truth that the word of God is the objective standard of all truth and conduct.

I discipline myself to choose the latter. 1 Cor 9:27

I am convinced that the body of Christ is at a crossroads today. It is increasingly marked by 1 Cor 11:17-19 division in the spirit of “choose this day whom you will serve”. Joshua 24:15 We need to clarify and commit to what glorifies God amongst ourselves rather than argue and divide over politics. There are a lot of heresies between WOKE and the Qanon cult. The most heretical typically sound the most loving in worldly terms. Every great-sounding heretical position and false gospel narrative is easily identified by the near or total absence of sound scriptural arguments. It seems to me that the only way for Christians to obey Jesus’s command in Mat 24:4 and choose wisely now is to make certain that our worldview and subsequent choices conform to the word of God.

Psalm 138:2

So what do you think?

Where is your persecution line?

Maranatha

You Will Never See Their Eyes

“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:2

Recently I posted a blog regarding two Christian families trapped in Afghanistan with redacted photos and a promise that I will one day show you their eyes. I regret to inform you that

I will not be doing so.

If you didn’t see the post, one family consisted of a father and mother with six daughters and a newborn boy. The other was of two parents and their adult son. All surrendered to Jesus when they visited Pakistan. All are fearing for their lives now. I can not even imagine how a father with six daughters in Afghanistan feels right now let alone how other men could be licking their proverbial chops in hope of having sex with them.

Unfortunately, the only response on my blog was from a sex trafficker in Lahore Pakistan. 

This pig is also allowed to advertise on Twitter

He is now following my blog. My old man, the former street scrapper/ US Marine in me wants to rage.

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Cor 9:27

My first prayer is that this evil pimp would have a road to Damascus moment and repent like Paul. My second is that he follows Jesus’s milestone recommendation in Luke 17 and Mat 18:6.

In any case, I can not risk sharing anything more publicly and I have unpublished the blog post.

The good news is that I did make a connection with another group in a completely different part of the middle east. Whether or not they will be able to help is anyone’s guess.

To those who answered the call to prayer. Thank you!

Please continue to pray.

Maranatha!

Doing Shots

Surviving Sophistry

Sophistry– the use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

Anyone who knows me or my testimony has heard my trademark response anytime a person asks me to drink with them.

“Sure, just as as long as you understand that when I do, you and I are both going to jail!

Its been near a quarter century since I’ve been to jail.

Tell me if you notice anything strange about the GIF below.

Viral Sophistry
Click on the image to read.

You can read this blog for the sake of the biblical message and conclusion at the end. Those who appreciate sarcasm might read between lines and enjoy the humor. Or you can simply view it as my personal note pad and evaluate the linked sources on your own.

Don’t worry. Peter had a hard time thinking outside of the box.

Recently a missionary friend observed that 2020 seemed marked by a growing challenge in discovering the truth about anything. In that respect 2021 is 2020 on steroids. While my current prophetic outlook remains the same as what I highlighted in “God Chose Joe Biden”, I am absolutely willing if not desirous of being proven wrong. A willingness to be wrong is the best defense against sophistry and fallacious conclusions rooted in normalcy bias, anecdotal evidence, and “appeals to authority”

Given that I have been vaccinated for just about everything with zero side effects, you’d think I’d be biting at the bit to get this one too. I was all in when the “_?_demic” began. In fact some of my conservative friends blocked me on FB when I praised Hondurans for being so compliant with Government mandates. However, I have always believed that one key in overcoming normalcy bias is to defend the opposing argument and see if it holds water.

Let’s see what holds water.

As for appeals to authority, these are most easily seen in fact-checker claims that such and such is untrue because

“Scientists or some government agency says.”

Keep in mind that the primary issue is that these arguments require faith in a source rather than our understanding of concrete evidence and data.  The sophistic mainstream media counts on this.

2 minute video.

If I were to take today’s headlines and FB discussions at face value I would believe the human race is on the verge of extinction. Of course human extinction is not biblical. Meanwhile, we have had one or two cases of the alleged extinction catalyst in our village with zero hospitalizations or deaths. Given new data emerging out of Israel regarding young adult mortality, it will be interesting to see what happens now that people in our community have access to vaccines. 

A fair number of Doctors have expressed concern about this.

From my perspective, the current narrative is the latest and greatest example of the orchestrated division generated by fallacious arguments and “slothfully induced” conclusions. Jesus said that a divided house can not stand. That said, all I have at this point are questions about the extinction catalyst and the unapproved miracle vaccines. For example,

  1. Dr. Fauci disagrees with people like Former Pfizer VP Dr. Mike Yeadon (You should listen to this one) and Dr. Robert Malone. Dr. Malone is the inventor of the mRNA vaccine. On what basis should I side with one argument over the other?
  2. What happened to the flu?
  3. It is true there are zero clinical samples of the viral culprit?
  4. Why are the total yearly deaths for all causes virtually unchanged between 2018-2020? 
  5. Is the spike protein benign or is it the primary cause of COVID related complications? If so, then why are we turning human bodies into spike protein factories?
  6. Isn’t it an oxymoron to declare an FDA unapproved vaccine safe? Won’t the FDA have to violate its own standards if it declares them safe before at least two years of human trials are completed?
  7. Given that correlation alone is never proof of cause, how many possible vaccine-related deaths are acceptable before we halt vaccinations pending a full investigation?

I am told anti-vaxxers are dumb and or evil. Anyone questioning the safety of vaccines is just uneducated and unsophisticated evil, right-wing rednecks. If that is the case as so many snobby snowflake leftists assert, then how do we explain this?

While I am open to non-fallacious arguments that support my taking a vaccine the only evidentially based arguments not rooted in appeals to authority that I can find support concerns about their safety. Many of these arguments are linked here. Meanwhile fear, mockery, censorship, and threats seem to be the most popular pro-vaccine selling points.

By the way, you may want to open the hyperlinks before you can’t.

A PATHOLOGIST SUMMARY OF WHAT THESE JABS DO TO THE BRAIN AND OTHER ORGANS
I downloaded this before it was removed by Youtube. Bad arguments can and should be disputed with logic and data not censorship.

Lots of people dispute the concerns that I’ve sourced here. That’s fine, especially since I haven’t reached any conclusions yet. My issue is that almost none have done so logically. Clown emojis and hominem-type attacks only prove immaturity and abject stupidity on the part of commenters. Also, it is my opinion that trusting media sources owned and controlled by now two corporations strikes me as the antithesis of logic. You are free to call that a conspiracy theory after you explain this.

1.5 minute video

I think it’s important to point out that none of the sources cited here are anti-vaxxers. Still, it has become utterly pointless to even try to have a reasoned discussion with passionate pro-Covid vaxxers because people are terrified of losing their lives.  Terror has a way of invoking stupidity even in the smart making them easy to indoctrinate. I’m not exactly sure when Americans became so cowardly. But then, cowardice is courage in an Orwellian Isaiah 5:20 world. In any case it seems the words of God to Jeremiah will soon apply.

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” Jer 12:5

While I could obsess over all the nastiness, and ridiculous ad hominem arguments that come my way, become bitter and frustrated and fire back in return, I am asking God to help me to walk in gentleness, kindness and self control and simply see the growing division as confirmation of the times.

Unfortunately not everyone sees it that way.

One thing seems certain, things are going to get harder. The good news is that there is a blessed hope at the end for those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.  Still, if you want to understand the dynamics of what happened to the Jews in Germany beginning around 1938 just watch the public comments on social media today and then project the future of our current trajectory.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim 3

2 Tim 3 is deeper dive into some of the things about which Jesus warned in Mat 24.  Again the point here is that we are on a trajectory not just a passing point in history. If this were only happening in the USA I might believe we are in another Fourth Turning and that what is coming can be stopped. But it’s happening globally. Lots of people are wishing and hoping and believing that things are going to get better. I hope it does but I rather doubt it. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” There are moral and religious people among us, several of whom read this blog. Yet as a nation, we are anything but that. Globally speaking we are in many ways worse off because of our original covenantal roots. As a nation we are subject to God’s judgment.  Paul’s warning to the Corinthians applies to us today just as it did to Israel.

“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1Cor 10:11

I suppose there could be some supernatural move of God that brings heaven to earth as some believe. I’d be ok with that. I’d also be ok with being taken up in a cloud before the tribulation. I just don’t see any of that happening before Mat 24:29-31. The sooner the body of Christ realizes that we are not returning to the previous, prosperous status quo, and instead focus on enduring that we might become a spotless bride, the better off we will be. Mat 25:1-13

Meanwhile…

“Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” Dan 12

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess 2:11

I don’t know what the right course of action is regarding the current crisis. I only know that being wise a serpent and gentle as a dove is more important than ever, as is Jesus’s first warning in the oliviet discourse Mat 24.

See that no one deceives you.

The sophistry is only going to increase.

Now I realize that almost no one wants to hear any of this least of all those with a preterist, postmillennial view of eschatology. If you believe the church will Christianize the proverbial 7 Mountains of society then I suspect your error will become clear soon enough. If a pretribulation rapture represents your eschatological view, please don’t freak out if it looks like you have been left behind. You are not rejected and the wrath of God is not upon you. Just endure as Jesus instructed with the understanding that Rev 12:11 and Rev 13:10 are there for a reason. Understand that your true survival may not include surviving in this life.

In the meantime,

Sidestep the sophistry.

Repent and preach repentance with  Rev 21:8 in mind.

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all LIARS, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Maranatha

Postscript: Here is an addendum to the original publication regarding pregnancy risks.

To Yoga or Not

Recently I was involved in a dialogue regarding progressive Christianity, Yoga and whether or not Christians should participate in it. I’m not going to say much about yoga because yoga is not part of my worldview.

Here’s a shorter video version. That, said the text has the links.

I am a Christian

For the record this is not even about Yoga but how we reason.

The validity of any argument is always rooted in its coherence and correspondence to its stated worldview and supporting presuppositions.

The presuppositional roots of most Progressive Christian arguments are almost always found in Pelagianism and, or Pragmatism. In contrast, Biblically sound arguments are always rooted in 2 Tim 3:16 “all scripture is God-breathed…”. Hence the first key in identifying a false argument within the context of the Christian worldview is the absence of scriptural references.

A second key is found in the underlying intent of a truth claim. Is it pointing us toward greater holiness or simply easing our conscience by confirming the minimum requirements to be saved?  Some people want to get as close as possible to God. Others want to know how close they can get to the devil and still avoid hell.

In my opinion, most arguments for Yoga practice on the part of Christians are based on the latter. Therein lays the problem. People tend to focus on what Yoga or another secular practice is not. Our focus should remain on what Christianity is. But what about movies, music, and Christmas trees bro?  Well, what about them? The leaven of Herod of which Jesus warned in Mark 8:15 represents the often very pragmatic trappings of the world. Namely depending on the material world and rooting our arguments in the natural.  It only takes “a little”. Gal 5:9

Paul was clear in 2 Cor 6:14-18 “do not be unequally yoked…what fellowship does light have with darkness…?”

Many if not most so-called “common grace”  arguments are based on the 1 Cor 8 “meat sacrificed to idols” argument, Peter”s vision in Acts 10:9-15, or 1 Cor 6:12 and 1 Cor 10: 20-23 “All things are lawful for me…”. Will people go to hell for doing yoga? Probably not. That’s really not the point. Still, context matters. “Yoga” means “unity”. The question that remains is, unity with what? We “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.”  1 Cor 10:21.

Why would we want to? 

Of course, there is the 1 Cor 9:22 become “all things to all men…” argument.  That’s fine if your goal is to evangelize an unreached group of yoga practitioners. Still, the question remains, who is teaching who? Are they becoming more like you or is the reverse the case?

At the end of the day we are talking about gospel integrity.

False gospel narratives always begin by minimizing, rationalizing, and justifying sin.  Ironically, these are known as “criminal thinking errors” within the realm of secular counseling. The double warning in Gal 1:8-9 should be enough to ward off any complacency in this area.

Sadly it is not.

All that being said, our first job as believers is to love God Mat 22:37-38 with all of ourselves, not just part. Then grow in our knowledge of him. 2 Pet 3:18 and obey his commandments. John 14:15, Ecc 12:13-14.

What is your position and why? Did you react based on emotion? Or did you suspend your judgment for a moment, search the scriptures and base your decision on God’s word. Remember, this is not about Yoga. It’s about how we decide.

Acts 17:11

Maranatha!

  1 Cor 16:22

Choose Your Yoke

Every once in a while I like to go back and review things I’ve written to see anything has changed. Recently Cathy and I reviewed Character from last March where I talked about prophetic teaching I gave to our GAP year squad about the 4th Turning. It was not well received by the Gen Z audience. I wrote that while I didn’t know the truth about COVID at the time, or the nature of the emerging crisis, it represented one of two things. Either it was a predictable crisis based on identifiable cycles in history that would eventually usher in another 20-25 year period of peace and prosperity. Or it marked the beginning of birth pains that Jesus prophesied in Mat 24. In either case, I said that the final outcome for individuals and people groups will be largely determined by the character of those affected. Romans 5.

“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Today I remain inclined to believe that Mat 24:3-8 birth pains have ensued. I explained this in greater detail in the Gospel of the Kingdom. While I am not certain about the exact timing of the millennium, I remain convinced that preterists and pre-tribulation rapture adherents are dead wrong about the last days. There have been multiple tribulations and days of the lord. Isaiah 13:8 Yet the final Tribulation and Day of the Lord is still to come and the true remnant Church must endure through it until the end to be saved. Mat 24:13 If in fact, we are in Birth Pains and not just another 4th Turn, then the next point to be watching for will be the Ezekiel 38-39 / Dan 9:24-27 war and the reinstitution of the daily sacrifice in Jerusalem. This may or may not include the actual construction of a third temple on the temple mount.

Where does the USA fall into the end of days? That’s easy. It doesn’t. If we are in a Fourth Turn we might expect for the USA to reemerge as a great nation. Otherwise, the USA is done as a superpower and depending on your perspective; as the last remaining bastion of freedom and prosperity in the free world. The proverbial line in the sand has been clearly drawn. You will either support a Marxist and therefore Satanic agenda that proclaims “whiteness” as the original sin while supporting, the pedophilic grooming of our children in public schools, LGBTQ+ as normal and healthy, abortion, and the elimination of free speech to name a few. Or you will reject it instead of God’s word and accept the consequences.

Most professing Christians will compromise instead.

In the meantime, we are to “Set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then we also will appear with him in glory.”…We are to “Put to death therefore what is earthly” in ourselves. Col 3 is the actionable foundation of Christian character.

Putting to death what is earthly begins with dealing with our Sin.

Why do I keep mentioning this?

Because I don’t see or hear anyone else placing at the forefront such that people would be driven to repentance or driven out the back door.

After defining the futility of struggling with sin based on human ability alone,  Paul declared,

“Oh, what a wretched man I am! Who will save me from this body of death” Rom 7:24

Paul’s depiction of sin was based on a particularly gruesome form of punishment whereby a murderer was yoked to the corpse of his victim. Having a dead body hung from one’s neck as it decomposed was a death sentence to be sure and a slow painful one at that.

It’s been two years since the dump in which we used minister closed down.  We just found another that brought old memories into the present.

The old dump

The first thought most people have when they see dump scavenge for the first time and after the shock subsides is,

“Why would anyone choose to live here?”

There are various reasons that include mental illness and addiction. The most common one is opportunity. This is where people work. The only rule at the dump is that the first person on the truck gets the load. While they are mainly looking for recyclables, there is always the chance of finding a yet to be defined treasure.

No one wants to miss out on the big score.

Living nearby increases their odds of a better life or so they hope.

Heidi Baker tells a story about one of her original ministries in Mozambique. It was in a garbage dump. She wasn’t there very long before she was assaulted with a broken bottle that a man held to her throat and threatened to kill her.  Ironically she wasn’t robbed.

Instead she was accused of conspiring to steal their garbage.

Assuming that heaven is as undiscriminating as many believe, I figure a lot of us are going to be amazed when we realize the abject lack of difference between the Porcha for which the stockbroker strived and the empty beer can be fought over by dump scavengers in the third world.

We will all realize that every last one of us was a dump scavenger and that what the world thought was abundant life

is really a rotting corpse. 

The word “Yoke” is mentioned more than 50 times in the bible and is usually associated with bondage or slavery. Today the world recoils at the idea of being yoked to anything or anyone especially rules. “Love is Love”, “My body my choice!”…  That’s to be expected among nonbelievers. As for Christian

You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. 1 Cor 6:18-20

Still, some people can’t even handle the idea of oxen being yoked.

Yet Jesus instructs all believers to,

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mat 11:29-39

Paul explained that Jesus’s yoke is true freedom and that of the world is slavery.

“For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Gal 5:1

Many people claim to have free will.  Yet Paul is clear that apart from Christ all are slaves to sin. Sin blocks free will such that

“All we would do; we don’t – all we would not; we do.” Rom 7

No amount of intelligence, ingenuity, talent or human strength will free us. Don’t believe me? Try putting sin to death on your own. Maybe go one week without telling a single lie to anyone including yourself.

On the other hand, there is complete freedom in Christ.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Rom 8:1-2

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Cor 3:17

While it is true that no yoke is free of requirements, the “yoker” is always the sustainer and taker of life for the yoked. 

The ultimate deception lies in the idea that it is both desirable and possible to free of all yokes.  

It is not.

Choose your yoke.

Maranatha

From What Am I Saved?

One of the biggest errors we make as Christians is to present the love of God apart from His wrath.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Eph 2:1-3

How many people come to the altar to be saved from their earthy circumstances and or trials they attribute to the devil?

The root is…

God warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil in Gen 3. It was the one and only thing they could not eat. If they did God said they would die. This was an objective truth given by the source of objective truth. Many people argue over the fairness of this. Yet they can only do so subjectively.

In the end, it amounts to arguing about the fairness of gravity.

Adam and Eve ate the fruit. Then their focus went from God to themselves.

Self-centeredness was born.

While the devil is the adversary of all true believers, he is NOT adverse to the earthly well-being of unbelievers. Think about it. Why would he give them more reason to flee into the arms of God?

“You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

The enemy baits people with earthly good, things that serve, and inflate our pride and sense of self-importance. Then he attempts to invalidate the goodness of God based on subjective earthly reasoning.

“How could a loving God allow_____?”

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.”C.S. Lewis

That’s right. The pain and suffering that drive us to God are caused by God or at the very least allowed by Him. To say otherwise is to give something or someone else more power and authority than Jesus. Mat 28:18. Healing doesn’t happen because God wants us to bring heaven onto earth. Supernatural signs and wonders are real and necessary because people are stubborn and refuse to believe unless they see proof. John 4:48. Even then many refuse to believe. Matthew 8:28 Others only believe for a while. Mat 11:20

There are consequences for unaddressed sin both individually and collectively as a nation.

Think of it as a friend who punches you in the face because you refuse to get out of the path of an oncoming train. Or the dog you want to teach to ride in the back of a pickup truck. Maybe you drive 10mph in a grassy field, let him jump out, and feel the pain in the grass instead of perishing on the pavement at 60mph.

By His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Just to be clear, the context of the word “Healed” here is primarily in reference to the restoration of a people group. Hence, it is through Jesus alone that we are restored to our original right standing with God.

How does that work?

There is an African tale about a King who was confronted with the fact that someone under his rule was stealing chickens. He ruled that anyone caught stealing chickens would receive 100 lashes; enough to kill most people. Soon after, the thief was caught and brought before the King. Much to his surprise, the chicken thief was his mother. The King ordered that she be strapped to the whipping pole. “You will give her the full 100 lashings,” said the King. ” “And one more thing,” he said standing to remove his shirt. “Do not diminish the severity of these lashes or you will be executed.” The king wrapped his arms around his mother and covered her with his body. “Proceed!” he said.

We are saved by God from God’s own wrath.

Today people hate Him because of the original sentence.

As for the suffering endured by believers…

“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” Heb 12:5-8

Suffering produces character and hope. Rom 5:1-5 Testing of our faith produces patience. James 1:1-4 The end game is that patience will have her perfect work so that we become complete, desiring “NO THING” but “knowing Christ and Him crucified”. 1 Cor 2:2 The Kingdom of heaven is upside down from the subjective system of values and standards on earth. Jesus beat the devil through submission when He could have just kicked butt and taken names. “A student is not above His teacher. “We win the same way. Mat 10:24-25

“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.” Mat 7:13-14

That word “narrow” means “with persecutions”.

We are saved by God from God’s wrath. We must endure to the end. Mat 24:13

He is God. We are not. Isaiah 55:8-9

Anything else is a counterfeit Christianity.

Unfortunately, 94% of Americans prefer the counterfeit .

Maranatha

Lament of a Speed Bump

I was at my first missions conference in Honduras and feeling a bit out of place amongst a slew of veteran missionaries when an old man alone in the corner beckoned me over. I can’t recall his name and I never saw him again. But I’ll call him Jeremy.  Jeremy had been in Honduras for over 40 years and was pushing 80. He looked me up and down and asked, “so what do you do?” then cut me off before I could speak.  “You see all these people here? All they talk about is themselves and what they do! No one talks about the Bible! They couldn’t care less”. I just stared not really knowing what to say. After all I talked a lot about what we do. “You know what? You’re a speed bump too.” I can see it in your eyes.

No one likes a speed bump.

I was in prison the last time I’d heard something like that. People imagine all sorts of things about prison. But prisons have their own culture where merchants artists and musicians thrive in a booming underground economy. You can get almost anything you want from heroin to shampoo provided you know the right people. Shampoo especially Pantene was a primary obsession and status badge.  I never did grasp the obsession with Pantene shampoo. It seemed the compulsion to barter and hoard was just innate. They called it “running store”. Running store was forbidden and could get you thrown in “the hole”.  The hole is jail inside a prison.

It seemed absurd to me that the rich and powerful were determined by the ability to stockpile shampoo in a footlocker. There was tremendous pride among store owners and the inmate leaders that allowed them to operate. It was as if they were building a legacy. Legacy is important in the criminal world. Cash was prohibited of course and therefore useless. Cigarettes and porn were the primary currency in which most products were trafficked. Porn was technically forbidden but most guards simply turned their heads. Individual pages from porn mags were placed in plastic document protectors and traded like baseball cards.  The only rule in conducting business was an implicit agreement to live by lies. That’s how trust was built. Prosocial behavior was always embellished especially in front guards. The nicer and more respectful the inmate the more bad was concealed. “Good morning sir. How’s the family? Is there anything specific we can pray for you today?” meant the guy probably had a shank or drugs under his mattress.

“No need to look here, sir. I worship Jesus.”

“It’s us against them so shut your mouth.” was the number one rule.  If there’s a shakedown and we get caught someone has to take the fall. Volunteer to get thrown under the bus if you want to move up in rank. Be a “stand up guy” and people will respect you. But “Snitches get stitches.” Other than that anything goes. At the end of the day assenting to this culture amounts to walking in quicksand.

The further one steps, the deeper one sinks.

Those who step in rarely get out.  I was one of the few who realized that the only way I would escape the revolving door of recidivism would be to reject every aspect of the culture in which I was immersed

and resolve to live not by lies.   

Obviously, this put me at odds with everyone around me including some of the guards.  And don’t think for a minute it was because I prayed and talked about a loving Jesus. Everyone in prison knows that Jesus. You might get mocked or ignored but there is rarely a problem with sharing  “God so loved the world…” “The joy of the Lord is my strength”, Or He has plans to prosper you to give you a future and a hope… Inmates love that Jesus.

Problems only arise when darkness gets exposed.

So I set up camp in Ephesians 5.

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible…” Eph 5:11-13

I won’t speak about the specific things I saw. Some of you would vomit. Suffice it to say it didn’t take long before I realized that turning one’s head is synonymous with “taking part”. My motto became,

“You want me to shut up?! Kill me!”

Believe me, they wanted to.

There were two Matson containers on each side of the prison yard. They were welded together to form “classrooms” in which we addressed our addictions and criminal thinking errors. One particularly poignant moment was the  day I entered the container and was greeted by 50+ men clapping their hands and stomping their feet chanting,

“We’re gonna eat you alive!”

There was always something. “Hey, you know – I was just thinking,” began the three hundred pound Samoan who’d just beat a former college running back turned crackhead in the 40-yard dash. “I wouldn’t want to do or say anything that would make someone want to kill me when I got out.” Coincidentally this was right about the time another Christ professing inmate was released.  They’d found him dead, shot in the back of the head execution-style in the parking lot behind his church. As always the inmates knew it before the media did.

One day a guy who’d already done 20 years for murder called me over and said, “Hey Gray, You know what my favorite part about shooting people is?” He showed me his finger. “It’s sticking this finger in the bullet hole.” he pressed his figure hard into my chest and laughed. It must have been Holy Spirit that anesthetized the fear but I just stared blankly into his eyes. “But you know what?” He continued. “Ain’t no one here gonna mess with you. I can see it in your eyes.”

There was fire in my bones in those days.

I had a fire in my bones when I started my missionary journey and proclaimed Isaiah 6:8 “Here I am send me!” Back then I thought it was a call to give stuff to the poor, sell Jesus door to door, and proclaim God’s unconditional love due to people’s inherent awesomeness.  Today I know it marked Isaiah’s acceptance of a call to proclaim a hard and unpopular word to a stiff-necked, sinful, and dismissive people. It was followed by God’s judgment.

Most people don’t believe God judges anything or anyone today.

He just wants to bless their hearts after people allow Him in.

Jerimiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” was another misused feel-good favorite of mine. It was usually spoken over people whom I knew absolutely nothing about and flowed out of warm fuzzy feelings proceeding from what seemed like obedience to Holy Spirit. I called it prophetic. It was probably projection. Like so many others I prophetically proclaimed this scripture over the lives of others without ever examining the original context let alone the condition of their lives.  Of course, God wants the best for us. That’s why He sent His son to die in our place. Tell me,

Why is that never enough?

It’s only been in the last year or two that I finally internalized that Jeremiah 29:11 is not a healing and prosperity proof-text.  Like the father who takes the time to explain why he is grounding his child for a week, Jer 29:11 is part of God’s explanation for His discipline. ‘This spanking is for your good son’  He had “grounded” Israel, meaning He sent them into captivity for 70 years as a result of their spiritual adultery and sexual sin. You see, the Israelites faithfully worshiped God in the temple as was required. That was a good thing. The problem was that they’d leave the temple and head for the hills to have wild orgies in the high places. The goal was to create a pornographic show that would excite the pagan gods Baal and Asherah into doing the same. Apparently fornicating demons were good for fertility and the harvest. The same relationship between porn and idolatrous worship today might be worth noting.

Jeremiah warned them repeatedly for years. Meanwhile, expedient positivity prophets of the day proclaimed, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ Jer 14:13.  God called them liars. Israel got sword, famine, and captivity.

To paraphrase Art Katz, ‘true prophets are the most irrelevant people in the room until the day when they are the only relevant people in the room.’

Just recently we learned that a smiling, praying supposedly spirit-filled father of multiple children at a house we repaired fathered at least one of them with his teenage daughter.  There’s another abused girl we heard rumors about months ago but have no actual proof.

As it turns out this is common in our area .

The guilty include those like me who turn their heads.

Thump, thump, discordant bump...

Like so many in Honduras, the people in the mountains near us have been evangelized to the utter brim. Most have accepted Jesus into their hearts more times than they can remember and certainly every time an American missionary showed up. There are passionate tear-filled calls for God’s anointing, power, healing, and provision, etc. There are extensive sermons on God’s power, prosperity, healing, and deliverance, from generational curses especially curses that block prosperity. It makes perfect sense. This is the gospel they’ve received from the USA.  Nothing is ever spoken about sexual sin even though a vast majority of families are headed up by single mothers.

What is the point if there is no transformation?

A drunken, incestuous, fornicating bride is the fruit of a gospel devoid of reverence, and repentance – a gospel that preaches the power and benefits of God without ever mentioning His requirements. No one was ever persecuted for preaching identity, healing, and prosperity while feeding people, building houses and handing out free stuff. People are persecuted for exposing sin and warning of its consequences. Lets face it, most of us  don’t want to be persecuted.

We want to be successful in Jesus’s name.

To be honest, sometimes I look around at the church and its culture and I don’t see a whole lot of difference between it and the culture in prison. 

Bump, bump discordant thump.

I just watched a prominent Pastor for whom I have always had the utmost respect. He gave an excellent sermon on YouTube regarding the times in which we are living and what we can expect in the coming years.  He applied Psalm 2 and Mat 10 to the events of today. He was spot on regarding the fact that we must be wise as serpents not just gentle as doves. Then he lost me.  He began outlining his strategy to save the business side of his ministry when the nations rage. He said he was encouraging other ministry leaders across the country to do the same. His idea is to have a handful of designated people who would be targets. These people should forfeit any official position or title so they can be free to say the hard biblical truths that need to be said and face the consequences on their own without endangering the business.

In effect, ministries should have designated people whom they can throw under the bus as needed.

I mean I get the “there is no greater love..” theme but come on. That’s what criminals do in prison. What about trusting God?  I’m thinking 1 Cor 3:13-15 applies.

“each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

If the business side of a ministry is worth saving then God will save it. Other wise it’s going in the fire guys. Hebrews 12 is worth considering too.

“Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” Heb 12:27

Christianity began in the context of a relationship in Jerusalem, moved to Greece where it became a philosophy then spread to the west as a business. In many cases, marketing and strategic business plans supplant scripture and prayer. Charismatic celebrity preachers inspire young people to be like them and supplant the Holiness and Sovereignty of God. Today almost anything goes. We’ve got CRT and Enneagrams, a Universal Christ, and even Christian Witches selling Christian Tarot cards. The church is a lot like Israel in Jeremiah’s time. 

Changing direction now will require a seed to fall to the ground and die.

No one wants to hear that the activity of Christianity is first and foremost about facing everything that is wrong within ourselves individually and corporately and teaching others to do the same. This is our primary function and foundation. The rest is up to God. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! 139:23-24

Christianity is not an invitation and commission to market a warm fuzzy, cute and cuddly, laughing, “love is love” Jesus who came to heal and prosper His children, and make them feel heard and seen. Its definitely not about systems, and power.

It’s about Witness not whiteness. 

Thump, thump discordant thump.

Jesus was pretty matter-of-fact in speaking about the inevitability of sin in the world. One might even say He sounded fatalistic.  Yup, you can’t fix it. But,“woe to the one through whom that sin comes.”

“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:2

Some might say the “him” in this passage is the devil, devil, devil, everything is the devil. Others think of pedophiles. I think he was talking to us.

It doesn’t matter if it’s inflated numbers of people saved, children housed and fed or numbers of sick people healed, we live by truth or we live by lies. We can rationalize in a Machiavellian “the end justifies the means” sort of way and say ministry takes money and people give to things that are working not broken. But the gospel is not a strategic business plan. It is not contingent on our success but on our willingness to be broken poured out, and utterly dependent on God.  At the end of the day embellishing the positive to conceal the negative for fear of appearing ineffective, losing support, or damaging one’s legacy is like trying to walk on quicksand with a hundred-pound pack. The stated intentions may be for the greater good.

Yet the further one steps, the deeper one sinks.

We see this dynamic repeatedly playing out in big-name, high-dollar ministries all the time. Most recently RZIM was destroyed for hiding the serial sexual sin of its founder Dr. Ravi Zacharias. After all, Ravi was brilliant and helped to lead millions to Christ. His apologetic approach was particularly effective in the Muslim world. He even evangelized one of the Sheiks that founded Hamas. Ravi was one of my heroes and I attended RZIM academy online. It was heartbreaking when he died and sickening when he was exposed. It’s no coincidence that Cathy pulled me away in the middle of writing this paragraph. “You need to watch this!” she said. It was an old 1990s YouTube documentary about four Iranian pastors who were martyred and the resulting explosion in the growth of persecuted churches in Iran. Ironically, it featured Ravi Zacarias as an authority on the Muslim world. He was actively engaged in sexual sin when he spoke. Today his ministry and the legacy he’d built over at least four decades have been sucked beneath the sand.

Meanwhile, the underground church in Iran is the fastest-growing one in the entire world.

Today back in Babylon everyone is redefining, redesigning, reimagining, rebranding and rediscovering but definitely not repenting. One prominent Pastor just blamed his error on the understanding of his followers. Tell me, what exactly is so hard about saying,

“Hey, you know what? I was wrong.”

The answer is that being wrong is bad for business. Especially for people who’s business is dependent upon with a personality cult following.

Jesus sends us out as witnesses, not businessmen. We are to proclaim His Holiness and His Coming Kingdom. “Repent!” is our primary message without which no other message matters. Not even one. It is the job of Holy Spirit to bring conviction. People repent and are saved AFTER they realize they deserve and are destined for hell and that God wants to save them because of HIS IRRESISTIBLE GOODNESS, not ours. We are God’s enemies, children of wrath until we are saved by grace from HIS, inexorable wrath. Eph 2

No one repents because they are awesome in the eyes of God.

They just raise their hands and make a transaction. Maybe they find a comfortable church later. None of it means much. The fact remains that only 6% of Americans today subscribe to a biblical worldview. Something is deeply wrong. Maybe the church is so sick because they are taught that once you accept Jesus into your heart the deal is closed and you don’t need to repent anymore. Just help build the business…I mean kingdom. There are couple-three preachers I can name off the bat who claim they never sin. Yet Paul pulled no punches when he called out sin among believers especially sexual sin in the church of Corinth in 1 Cor 56. He was very clear regarding how we should treat those who don’t repent. Paul was a speed bump.  Uncomfortable speed bump sermons like his have never been popular in the postmodern era.

They never will be. 

Hence the Greek word for witness is “Martyr”.

Stephen was a speed bump. He wasn’t even supposed to preach. He was supposed to wait on tables. Instead, he was stoned to death after he preached the gospel and told the religious leaders,

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Acts 7:51-53

Stephen and the other disciples were loving men because they were loyal to the TRUTH alone rather than men. They were also hardened, bold, fearless men who didn’t back down and didn’t mince words to make them more palatable and politically correct by

“Speaking in love”.

Truth is love the opposite of which is fear. Get over it!

Jesus didn’t weep or scream when Herod mixed the blood of the Galileans with the sacrifice. He didn’t howl “how dare they murder my children whom I loved and planned to prosper” Instead, He told those present,

“the same thing will happen to you unless you repent”. Luke 13

In fact, he said it twice

My point is that if we really loved people more than our miracles, ministry, money, success, and legacy etc. then we’d risk being hated or even killed to warn people of what is coming. 

“Then he (Jesus) began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done because they did not repent.” Mat 11:20

Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever. Heb 13:8

To be honest, I’m not sure how we are going to address what has recently come to light. We are lone rangers up here. and believe me, I am fully aware that pointing a finger means I have three more pointing back at me. I only know that we must do something. Right now I feel like Ezekiel, as I imagine it when he discovered the abominations in the Temple. Ezekiel 8. It could be just the tip of the iceberg.

As Cathy just said,

“People will want to kill us. Maybe they will.”

Phil 1:21

I need prayer for fire in my bones like I had in the days when I was first saved and didn’t give a rip about who liked me and who didn’t. Cathy pointed out that we can’t effectively address the situation if we are angry. We need to weep for the lost and not in our flesh. Still, part of me wonders if I’m not angry enough? I mean what am I afraid of? Looking back I can see how God preserved me even when people conspired to kill me. He can preserve me now. Still, I’m older now and softer, more grandfatherly and I guess it just hurts more when the proverbial car wheels hit my edges and run me over.

Who am I kidding? I don’t ever give people a reason to run me over anymore.

I need to repent!

Thump, thump, discordant thump.

This is the lament of a speed bump

MARANATHA

Jesus King of Worms

The Passion of the Christ has become our primary ice breaker for preaching the gospel in Honduras. We just showed it in the mountains above our mountain last night.

Just like the Bible itself, the Lord seems to highlight a different point every time we watch it.  Last night was marked by the scene where Jesus receives the crown of thorns. It is the first time we noticed that the Roman soldiers crowned Jesus

“King of the Worms”.

There are at least 350 Old Testament scriptures that point to Jesus. Several involve the original Tabernacle built by Moses approximately 1500 years before the birth of Jesus. If you have ever had the benefit of hearing Cathy’s Tabernacle teaching then you know that everything down to the smallest construction detail points directly to Jesus.

Cathy teaching indigenous missionary students in the Ecuadoran Amazon basin.

When I say small, I mean small.

Kermes vermilio

Kermes vermilion or  “coccus ilicis” looks more like a Beatle than a worm. Nevertheless, it was labeled a worm possibly because it loses the use of its legs after attaching itself to a tree to give birth.

Why does this matter? 

Because Psalm 22, probably written 1000 years before His birth is one of the major prophetic passages concerning Jesus.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. Psalm 22:6

The Hebrew word for “Worm” in the OT is “Rimmah” which means maggot and is exclusively associated with decay. However, the word for “worm” in psalm 22 is Towla “scarlet stuff, crimson, a dye made from the dried body of the female of the worm coccus ilicis.” Interestingly, the word “crimson” is from a Sanskrit word KṚMI-JĀ meaning “worm-made.”

One of the most poignant points for me in the Tabernacle teaching was concerning the crimson dye that was used to color the tabernacle curtains and coverings. (Exodus 26) It was obtained from the coccus ilicis worm.

According to Henry Morris,

“When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted.” 

Not only did the worm have to die but her offspring would feed on her corpse until they were strong enough to go off on their own.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. John 6:53-55

Everything down to even the tiniest worm that died and shed its blood on a tree so that others may live was a prophetic depiction of the final sacrifice of Jesus who shed His blood for us on the cross so that all who believe and repent might be saved. It was the original act of communion whereby we symbolically eat His flesh and drink His blood in remembrance of why He came and is coming. Who would have ever imagined that in a world that idolizes fame, fortune, power, and charisma, a world where everyone is vying to be seen and heard, that the God of all creation would use a worm to point us back to Himself and the reality of Maranatha.

We never cease to be amazed at His intricacy and depth. Hence, awe remains my primary expression of worship.

It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. Prov 25:2

May you be a King.

MARANATHA

To Laugh or To Mourn

Like so many of his teachings and posts, this one by Rolland Baker (a.k.a. Mr. Miagi in my mind) resulted in a tirade of disagreement among proverbial dissenting Daniel-sans. Some were appalled. Some were confused.  Others simply assumed he was mocking Pharisees and the religion of man. He later explained that he might have been doing all of these or none of these or all of these and more. In any case, I did some Acts 17:11 research. As it turns out the word “joy” is used 171 times in the ESV. “Mourn” is only mentioned 39 times and “mourning” 51.

That ought to tell you something! 

Amirite?

Here’s the thing.  The passage in question never once mentioned “joy”- only laughter. Laughter is mentioned 9 times in the ESV.  Job 8:21 and Psalm 126:2 sound nice. Gen 21:6, Prov 14:13, Ecc 2:2, Ecc 7:3, Ecc 10:19, Jas 4:9 not so much. Especially James 4:9.

“…Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4:8-9

It occurs to me that the automatic correlation of joy with laughter may be a bit flippant. 

Still context matters.

I’ve experienced what is called Holy laughter amidst deep repentance and face-to-face encounters with the absurdity of my filthy rag self-importance. It is the light of God’s power and grace that causes me to laugh at the narcissistic me whom I behold in the dark glass. I’ve also seen it amidst others being delivered from homicidal rage, chronic depression, and suicidality, etc. Still, as positive as its fruits can be, this laughter seems soulish to me. Relatively speaking it is also rare in a world filled with coarse joking and foolish talk.  

On the other hand, I have experienced some of the deepest and most profound joy of, and in the Lord amidst suffering and weeping. There is a depth and a  sweetness in that place that transcends any laughter I have experienced to date.

When I inquired how many dissenters to the post are living on the mission field? One person responded with “everywhere is the mission field”  “That’s true.” I said “Everywhere is also the world. The question is; where are you living?”

Point missed entirely. 

Perhaps it’s the relative material barrenness and the utter dependency upon Jesus that barrenness cultivates.   Maybe it’s the raw testing of faith where faith isn’t normally required. Maybe it’s the nature of the third world that facilitates tribulation becoming the seed of hope that does not disappoint. Then again maybe it’s just the sincere intention to endure whatever God chooses that opens the door.  But it seems easier to encounter that paradoxical, electric, mournful joy that is so often utterly devoid of laughter and so filled with tears from a place of suffering rather than prosperity.

There’s a lot of confusion.

What I hear people calling blessing and purpose today seems contingent upon material comfort and prosperity rather than its absence. Yet Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief with no place to lay His head.  He prayed for His torturers while He hung on the cross. He cried “my God my God why have you forsaken me!” in the peak of His suffering that no one can comprehend. He did it for the joy set before Him. But we want to turn Him into a laughing Jesus, a North American prosperity Jesus who would never let His children suffer even though that is the one thing of which He assured every believer on earth. 

Hence as time goes on what charismatics typically call Holy laughter seems increasingly shallow to me and the world’s laughter evil in the face of it. Maybe that’s what these mystics whom so many mock and call legalistic were getting at. Maybe that’s what Rolland Baker is getting at too. Then again maybe they are just speaking in the context of James chapter 4. This begs the question; is the collective angst expressed on Rolland’s post more indicative of drawing close to God or of friendship with the world?

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Psalm 119:66-72

Maranatha.

CRT Genealogy and Scripture Rebuttal

I just had my first experience being interviewed by my friend Nick Franks on the Into the Pray Podcast. Cathy said I stuttered a lot. I blame cognitive gridlock. CRT is a rabbit hole with more detours than the one Alice took to Wonderland.  The final destination is at least as crazy. I figure some people need some white noise (Pun intended) to help calm themselves down. Others need to check themselves before they wreck themselves…ETERNALLY. You can listen on Apple, Spotify, Google, and anyplace else where older, cisgender, Christian, patriarchal, colonizing, white males are still permitted to speak.

I have written several blogs on the subject of Critical Theories, the WOKE movment and Christianity. While not exhaustive, this outline highlights what I view as major turning points in the evolution of the current cultural Marxist Revolution that is upon us today. It is intended as a reference for more extensive research on the part of concerned Biblically sound Christians with a desire and calling to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. It will be utterly useless in the hands of anyone devoid of the fear of God and a clear comprehension of Paul’s warning concerning any other gospel in Galatians 1:8-9

What is commonly known as Critical Race Theory, the philosophical backdrop of the Woke / social justice movement is not new.  It is a mutation of an opportunistic virus created by Satan when he rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven. It is rooted in pride and defines everything related to humanity in terms of power. Narcissism is it’s food. Just as the Bible gives us genealogies that show the origins of peoples and ideas culminating with the birth of Jesus, so does CRT have a genealogy that culminates with the current destruction of western civilization and especially the Church as we have known it until today. The list of Bible verses at the end is intended to help you frame a solid 1 Pet 3:15 apologia regarding God’s view of humanity.

The beginning

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” Rev 12:7-8

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Gen 3:1

The history of man has been one of rebellion against God ever since. It is marked by cycles of blessing, ingratitude, entitlement, rebellion and captivity.

1789-99 Rousseau – egalitarianism – French Revolution

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an 18th Century Philosopher who proposed Egalitarianism as a solution to society’s problems. It was framed by the idea that 1. A social utopia was possible. 2. This would require a dismantling of all social institutions that got in the way. 3. Once established, a totalitarian government would be required to maintain the new utopia by force.  Egalitarianism helped to fuel the French Revolution.

1830-40 Friedrich Hegel a contemporary of Rousseau is most famous for what is known today as the Hegelian  Dialectic where the thesis conflicts with antithesis to form a synthesis. It is the foundation for discourse and the principle of the “problem-reaction-solution” model employed by totalitarian regimes to gain and maintain control. Hegel is important to the extent that he inspired Marx.

1848 Karl Marx published his renowned Communist Manifesto.  While classical Marxism is economically based whereby a violent overthrow of the capitalist class by the working class was viewed as inevitable.  However, Marx did not account for the fact that while the rich indeed got richer, the poor got richer too.  The takeaway from Marxism that still applies today is conflict theory.  Critical Theories are just rebranded Marxism in that the economic, “oppressor versus oppressed” as a conflict generator is replaced by race and gender.  Hence the term “Cultural Marxism”.

1911 Chinese Revolution

Russian Communist Revolution 1917

American Communist Party forms 1919

1929 – 1935 Antonio Gramsci who was imprisoned by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was the first to define socialism as a religion and stated “socialism is precisely the religion that must kill Christianity.” He is best known for his Prison Notebooks that inspired future critical theorists and formed the basis for the theory of hegemony whereby instead of a violent and bloody revolution Marxist goals could be achieved through institutional manipulation and coercion via institutions like media, religion, and schools. His socialist religion was rooted in “trust in man and his best strengths as the sole spiritual reality.” 

1923 Frankfurt School of Economics is formed and Critical Theory is born in 1937. Theodore Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse were Marxists whose goal was to rethink and rebrand Marxism that had thus far failed to produce the projected utopian society.

Adorno believed that the authoritarian personality is the result of Capitalism, Christianity, Conservatism, The Patriarchal family, and Sexual repression.

Horkheimer took Critical Theory from being an analytical tool to one of implementing social change.

Marcuse was perhaps the most classically Marxist of the three and proposed that ideas, speech, behaviors, etc. must be disallowed.

1945-52 Chinese Communist Revolution

1960 Students for a Democratic Society, later became The Weather Underground.  Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorn participated in multiple bombings in the 1960s and ’70s. Both got off on a technicality. The concern over communism grew during these years. While conservatives went into government and the military to counter the threat, Marxists like Bill Ayers went into education to advance their agendas.  Bill Ayers specialized in curriculum.

1963 undercover FBI agent Cleon Skousen presents a 45 point plan of the American Communist Party which included a discrediting of the Bible and the replacement of revealed region with a social form.

1966 Professors Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven developed what is known today as the Cloward – Piven strategy whereby the current socio-economic system in the USA would be dismantled by overwhelming social services and other entitlements until the entire system collapses and can then be replaced with one based on socialism. Those influenced by Cloward and Piven include Bill Ayers and Hillary Clinton.

1967 Jacques Derrida develops what is commonly known today as “deconstructionism”. While it originally focused on textual criticism, it became foundational to cultural Marxist deconstruction resulting in the “cancel culture” of today. It also underpins the process whereby so many Christians are deconstructing and falling away from the faith. 

1969  Michael Foucault is best known for ideas like “power/knowledge” the idea that power is gained and maintained by producing and controlling what is accepted as knowledge. His book The History of Sexuality laid a foundation for the current gender-driven upending of society.

In the late 1960s – 70s Harvard law professor Derrick Bell develops critical legal theory.  Bell is often considered an originator of Critical Race Theory. Besides the idea that racism is normal and endemic to society he also proposed “convergence theory” that in essence says white people are only capable of operating in accordance with their own self-interest. Hence any support of civil rights on the part of whites is because it converges with their interests.

1971 Herbert Marcuse postulates that radical feminism is the best platform for launching the Critical Theorists cultural Marxist nonviolent revolution.

1971 Saul Alinsky a Barrack Obama mentor publishes Rules for Radicals. It becomes a manual for community organizers. It is prefaced with praising Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom.

1979 the atheist Post Modernism of Jean-François Lyotard is not taken very seriously outside of academic circles. It ultimately turns the idea of objective truth and especially objective moral law on its head.  The result is that two generations were educated based on a system of thought that now teaches 2+2=5. 

1986 the Standpoint Epistemology of Sandra Harding is often correlated with Critical Theories but is more a product of postmodernism and feminist philosophy.  This has been called Ethnic Gnosticism because it asserts secret knowledge on the part of the oppressed. Truth is based on individual lived experience.  Hence a black woman knows things that can not ever be known by a white man. One result we see today is the idea that a white male must listen but not speak when it comes to subjects involving a black person or a female or any other oppressed person or group.    

1989 Kimberly Crenshaw – Intersectionality essentially monetizes the victim stance by identifying oppressed and oppressor groups.  Power is determined according the number of oppressed groups to which one can claim membership. A black female has power.  A black lesbian has more. It is possible to belong to both an oppressed and oppressor groups e.g. a white Christian female or a gay male. However, a white cisgender Christian male can only be an oppressor. One’s only hope within the context of this world view is that new oppressed groups are being added daily to include “overweight” and “introvert”.

2001 Richard Delgado is often credited with condensing and formalizing CRT in his book Critical Race Theory – an Introduction.  Among other things he planted the seeds of the current proposed anti-hate speech laws and outlined the basic framework upon which current CRT is based.

1. Racism is embedded in society and is normal.  CRT begins with the assumption of racism and then searches for it until it is found. Real-time application: “anti-racism work” whereby white people are taught to seek out ways in which they are racist.  They are taught there is no way not to be racist and this will be a lifelong endeavor. That said, only white people can be racist because they have all the power.

2. Convergence theory: Whites are incapable of doing anything except in their interest.  Real-time application: Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is accused of attempting to conceal her racial bias by adopting black children.

3. Racism is systemic. All systems eg. Education, Law, religion, etc. are racist. Hence the very foundations of society, language, history, and culture must be deconstructed (dismantled) and rebuilt from the ground up.  (See Egalitarianism)  Hence racism is an identity, not an action. Real-time application: a black man assaulting an Asian woman results from “Whiteness”.

4. All knowledge is socially constructed.  Language forms the building blocks. What you say matters more than what you do. Real-time application: Today looting and burning by oppressed groups are “peaceful protests”.

2008 Barrack Obama is elected POTUS. The teachings of his primary mentor’s Marxist pornographer Frank Marshal Davis,  Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky, and Liberation Theologian Jeremiah Wright have provided the philosophical foundation for his radical transformation of America.

2011 the Occupy Wall Street movement emerges seemingly out of no where and is ironically funded by billionaires like George Soros.  The emerging classical Marxist narrative seeks to marginalize the 1% in and threatens to “burn it all down”.

2013 BLM is established by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in response to Travon Martin being shot by George Zimmerman. 

2014 Michael Brown killed in St. Louis MO

2016 Donald Trump elected POTUS.

2017 ANTIFA emerges as a formidable presence in the USA.  while the group traces its roots back to 1936 opposition to the Nazis its reemergence might be traced to the Occupy Movement. ANTIFA might be termed an anarchic-communist group with no discernable leadership structure.  However, the extent of their operations, organizational and communication sophistication are evidence of both financings and some form of centralized leadership.  These are the jackbooted brown shirt-type thugs that along with BLM are what Vladimir Lenin called “useful idiots”.  As has been the case in every Marxist revolution, these will be the first to be lined up and shot if and when the desired Marxist regime is achieved.

2018 “White Fragility” published by Robin DiAngelo essentially creates a Kafka Trap for white people who deny being racist in that their denial is taken as proof of guilt.

2020 Ahmaud Arbery shot by vigilantes in GA.

2020 George Floyd dies while derrick Chauvin kneels on his neck.

BLM and ANTIFA loot and burn business districts in cities across the US.  BLM raises at least 90 million dollars much of which goes ActBlue a democratic Super PAC supporting the Biden campaign and other Democratic candidates.

2021  Patrisse Cullors purchases four homes for 3.2 Million dollars.

While Marxism purports to seek justice for the oppressed it has always been and always will be used to gain wealth and power and then consolidate it into the hands of the few. Even the most cursory internet search that bypasses tycoon-owned fact-checkers will show where the money has flowed since the onset of the current social upheaval seemingly driven by racial and gender-based injustice and COVID quickly reveals that the world’s wealthiest people have only consolidated more wealth and power.  Businesses looted and real estate destroyed by young entitled and Godless mobs will only be bought up by the world’s financial elite.  Meanwhile, big box stores and online robber barons like Jeff Bezos who helped finance the chaos will control more and more of the market and with it the lives of these useful idiots.

One thing is certain.  We know a tree by its fruit. Woke, Social Justice based rhetoric is neo- Marxist at its core and, therefore, the spirit of anti-Christ. If your church or Christian organization insists on embracing it, then leave.  Paul is clear in Galatians 1:8-9. 

These people are accursed. 

Bible Verses

Again, Critical Theories are a world view and even a religion. They have multiple epistemologies (how we determine truth), multiple ethical frameworks (how we determine right from wrong), and multiple metaphysical views (how we determine what is real). As Christians, our worldview is determined and articulated by scripture.  If you are a true Christian your worldview must line up with Scripture Acts 17:11 or you are in sin and possibly not a Christian at all.

Here are some thematically arranged scriptures that will help you give a solid 1 Pet 3:15 apologia for the Christian worldview that is under assault by Marxist sociological theories.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

Gen 1:26 all of are His image-bearers

Gen 3 we were all born into sin as a result of the fall.

Isaiah 64:6-7  “But we are ALL like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags;

Rom 3:10-18 Paul quotes Isaiah “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 

Luke 13 Unless we repent of OUR OWN sins our fate will be the same as the Galatians.

2 Cor 4:4 god of this world has blinded unbelievers.  Know where you stand.  Know that world opposing world views are not argued away without a proverbial road to Damascus type experience.

Gen 11 The only division between peoples took place at the tower of Babel.

Acts 2:5-12 That division was dissolved by Holy Spirit.

Eph 2 Defines the valid dividing line between people.  Those in Christ Jesus verse 6 and those who remain children of wrath verse 3.  Denial of this core biblical truth is a subtle key to the growth of false CRT / social justice-based gospel narratives.

Righteousness is only possible through the blood of Jesus. That’s His righteousness, not ours.

Rom 3:25-26 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at present so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

2 Cor 5:16-19 “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Gal 3:28-29 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.,

Rom 2:11-16 For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many, as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Col 2:8  “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good…

Gal 1:8-10  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

9  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preaches any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10  For do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Rev 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 

The word for “accuse” in this verse is katēgoréō from which the word “categorization” is derived. The devil is constantly attempting to divide and categorize us. Those adhering to Critical Theories are doing the same. They represent the spirit of anti-Christ.

Biblical justice is based on our individual actions not the actions of those assigned to the same category.

Deuteronomy 19:15 on the basis of two or three witnesses.

Lev 19:15 no preference for the poor (or anyone else) injustice.

2 Tim 3:12 those living Godly will suffer persecution. There is no God-given plan to eliminate it before He returns.  Hence justice will be determined by Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3 “He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.” This is the only verse that declares anything about Jesus’s appearance.  The declaration is made 700 years before Jesus was born.  Those who proclaim that Jesus was a racial minority have no basis for this argument.  He was somewhere on the scale between albino and black.

2 Cor 4:14-15 The true gospel says that one of God’s purposes in blessing us is that our thanksgiving (should) abound to the glory of God. Gratitude to God for His blessings is a form of worship. But the social Justice gospel demands we atone for God’s blessings.

Finally we have the issue of racism addressed in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. You can read about that here.

MARANATHA