We are full-time Christian missionaries in Honduras. Jesus is Lord. He is also Truth. All others must take a back seat. Brian is a writer/ video producer. Cathy is a photographer and the one who always stops for the one. We are easy to contact just message us here. God bless!
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!
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.
We’ve been full-time missionaries in Honduras for 4 years now. October will mark 5 years since we left Hawaii for IRIS Global Harvest School of Missions in Mozambique the cost of which remains the only outstanding debt that we owe. That’s ironic because the longer I am on the mission field the more I realize how priceless that experience was. And while we had a graduation ceremony, I am increasingly aware that I have yet to graduate.
I suspect that is by design.
While Rolland and Heidi Baker both hold Ph.Ds in Theology, they never formally taught on that subject. When we arrived we were greeted with,
“A lot of you came here to learn how to do missions. The truth is you came here to die.”
I have often wondered about that and it occurs to me that we’d probably have something called Bakerism today with Bakerists arguing with other “ists” over other “isms” had the school tried to condense the sovereign will of God into a university-style syllabus. Instead, we began and ended with the idea that missions flow from intimacy with, and dependency on Jesus. The implication was that intimacy must be sought.
It can not be humanly imparted or taught.
There was also an underlying motif regarding the inseparable connection between intimacy with God and suffering. This seems counter-intuitive when you consider the theological streams where the Bakers are most often embraced and those that reject them. Whatever you may think about them, the fact remains that the revival that so many crave was birthed out of suffering in Mozambique and has been the norm for the better part of two decades. Until recently most of this suffering was the direct result of storms, flooding and resulting famine. As of this writing, people have been beheaded in a village where we did an outreach. Untold numbers have been shot. Tens of thousands are fleeing radical Islamists who have created yet another internal refugee crisis. We are praying for Mozambique and expect more revival.
The rest of the church would do well to observe and learn while it prays.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any teaching. There was a whole range of teachings from various celebrity pulpits from around the world that may or may not have been endorsed by the staff. As for the Bakers themselves, Heidi modeled more than taught and always emphasized that “love looks like something.” She would occasionally give a hermeneutic on a specific passage of scripture like Jesus’s approach to the woman at the well as a model of her trademark “low and slow” “honor those we serve” approach to missions. Rolland was more the mystic and taught like Miyagi from The Karate Kid. His lectures resembled a cross between a stand-up comedy act and a Zen Koan possibly designed to leave people scratching their heads for years. He would lob one-liners like hand grenades into the crowd and then giggle as student brows collectively knit together.
“Ah yes, pray the money in they say”. “Well…hehehe what if God says no?”
“Lots of people argue about what God is or isn’t.” He’s a God of this.” “No he’s a God of that.” They say. “Well what if He’s a God of this and that?”.
He’d talk about miracles and missionary tales but mostly about the miracle giver in a way that sounded like a Song of Solomon 2.0. It definitely made the “macho” in me squirm. Then he’d run around the pavilion shouting “BOOF!”, pretending to shoot people with his microphone while hundreds of twenty-somethings fell down consumed with what I viewed as sheer bandwagon fallacy laughter. I wasn’t having it. I was mad. I’d come here to learn how to do missions not act like a stupid drunk kid. I remember Rolland paused and looked at me for a moment before deciding to forgo the “Boof”. My offense immediately melted into a conviction that I had failed the “become as a little child test”. I then experienced the rejection of a little child deemed unworthy of the “Boof”. Mission accomplished. I know it sounds silly. But God has different ways of tearing our old wineskins apart and causing old wine to flow like blood and more often tears on the floor. I have since learned that silly is often an easier path through ears and into hearts than are hardcore theological arguments. That is not to say that theological correctness isn’t important. It most certainly is. Anyway, Heidi addressed getting knocked down in a later session, “If you don’t get knocked down, just get down.” she said.
Turns out – nothing quenches Holy Spirit so much as pride.
Those who regularly read my blogs may have detected that I am always repenting and reforming as I am being conformed. I am fully aware that I will always know in part and see in a glass darkly until the perfect comes and I am known as I am fully known. Still, I thirst for righteousness and have very little patience for blatant fraud and heresy. I am not a cessationist. Rather I am passionate about “testing everything while holding fast to what is good.” 1 Thess 5:20-21 There are some false theological streams in which some Harvest school graduates are immersed that I find downright scary if for no other reason than they and their disciples are going to melt like snowflakes in a flame amidst the call to endure what is coming. I want to know Him far more than I want anything from Him. I think Rolland and Heidi would agree. That said, If I never see another miracle, sign, or wonder again and it would have absolute zero impact on my faith.
Both Cathy and I experienced full supernatural deliverances when we surrendered to the Lord. We know that we serve a personal God who actively intervenes in His creation according to His sovereign will. We’ve seen God cast out demons in people and seen tumors disappear. Twice we saw the miraculous replication of food. Once in Honduras when we didn’t ask for it,
and once in Mozambique after Heidi had a group of five-year-olds pray. We’ve seen cataracts dissolve, deaf ears opened and lame people dance when they previously couldn’t even stand. We’ve been delivered from what should have been sudden death at least three times while on the mission field. Only God knows the actual count. We’ve seen the other side in action as well. Still, most times we don’t see anything happen when we pray. Some would call that proof of stupidity.
Others would say we need to grow in faith. Luke 17:6
I just listened to a podcast featuring Dick Brogden. He told a story of when in his twenties he had fervently and faithfully prayed for a Kenyan woman to be raised from the dead. Suddenly her body jerked upward. “Praise God!” he exclaimed. Then he realized a particularly large woman had just sat on the end of the stretcher and the leverage had jerked the body upward. He felt stupid and angry at God and asked the Lord why? The answer he got was that God would trust him with His power when He could trust him with His glory. Dick had to admit that if God had raised the woman from the dead he would have written newsletters and given testimony thanking God but also making darn sure that everyone knew that Dick had been heavily involved. I think a lot about that when I write about what we do. I am absolutely convinced that if anyone is ever raised from the dead when I pray it will be because enough of Brian has died and been flushed away. It will not because of any grandiose growth in my faith.
The miracle of suffering
I recently read about David and Svea Flood a Swedish missionary couple who went to the Congo in 1921. Long story short the village chief prevented them from witnessing to anyone for fearing of angering the village spirits. Only one young boy who was allowed to sell them chicken and eggs heard the gospel. They felt like failures and then lost everything. Svea died, another couple adopted their young daughter Aggie, and David returned to the West where he deconstructed and fell away from the faith. Aggie grew up in South Dakota. Long story short she eventually learned what had happened in Africa. She did more research and found that the boy to whom her parents had ministered was now a pastor that led his entire village to Christ. At last count, 110,000 people had been baptized as a result of that single seed. Aggie then sought out her 73-year-old birth father who was alcoholic and still very angry with God. He cried when she told him that his efforts had not been in vain. In the end he reconciled with her and with the God of this and that.
So why does God do miracles sometimes and not others? Better yet, why does God do miracles at all?
One reason is for unbelievers to take notice. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” John 4:48 Signs and wonders follow the preaching of the gospel. Mark 16:20. As for sign chasers, I always imagine Jesus shaking His head and rolling his eyes just before He performed a miracle.
For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?Mat 9:5
Yet even Jesus could do nothing apart from His Father. John 5:19 Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. John 15:5. It would seem to me that in addition to dying to self, miracles are contingent upon our alignment with the will of God. True alignment with God looks like people weeping on their faces not men in thousand-dollar suits in celebrity pulpits boldly declaring a self-ordained anointing, power and authority to align God’s will with theirs.
I have a hypothesis.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Mat 7:21-23
Have you ever stopped and really considered that passage? Better yet, have you ever scrutinized yourself in accordance with those three verses especially in the context of your most treasured assumptions about God? That passage is in my opinion the scariest one in the entire bible. It is entirely possible to be doing all the right things even supernatural things for all the wrong reasons and not even know it. The remaining question is, “how can I really know if God knows me?” Even more, “do I even want to be known by God, or do I just want a cheap fire insurance policy and freedom from the anxiety that we used to call conviction of sin?”
“…If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” 1 Cor 8:1-2.
That’s encouraging. But then “who loves God?” I mean – I feel like I do. Still, Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” John 14:15 I just murdered the same guy ten times today, coveted my neighbor’s stuff and committed a host of other sins in my mind. Mat 5-6 Now what? Do I redact the scriptures that make me uncomfortable, find a teacher with a more palatable hermeneutic or face the truth – “oh what a wretched man I am!”? Sigh…I guess I’d better head on back to the old throne of grace and say “sorry”… Yes, I know my wretchedness is covered by the shed blood of Jesus and that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Rom 8 Of course, I am saved by grace through faith that is not even my own so that I can’t brag about it. Eph 2:8-9 Still, the fact remains that I don’t always obey His commandments. Not only because I can not but because I choose not. Again, I don’t have self-esteem or identity issues. I’ve heard countless feel-good sermons over the last fifteen years explaining my identity and why I am the righteousness of Christ… The fact remains that Mat 7:21-23 is still there in its unredacted form declaring that not everyone who thinks they are saved and doing the will of God will be saved in the end. Maybe I just need to sing “I am a friend of God” and “Reckless Love” until I believe it. Or maybe as George Mueller wrote I need the simultaneous recognition of my utter depravity with the grace and miracle covering of the blood of Jesus. Maybe I need a full and realistic view of my filthy rag works and the offscouring of all things that I am in the context of His righteousness in which I am so miraculously clothed. It doesn’t matter that I am a missionary. Any time I take an honest look at my reflection in the dark glass, the truth of ME strikes Acts 2:43 (Phobos) terror in my heart. It is, I think, a fruit of sincerity in that it produces “a broken and contrite heart that God will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 That in turn yields a return of the joy of His salvation. Psalm 51:12 It results in wisdom Prov 9:10 and genuine life application alignment with God Prov 3:5-8 the verification and validation of which some times but not always, maybe, just might be confirmed by a sign or a wonder.
It was during our first trip to Honduras that I also made my first trip to a third-world dump and saw children eating raw garbage.
Meanwhile, Cathy went to a river baptism where she and three girls got covered in gold dust. Previous to this I saw a video featuring falling gold dust and people who claimed to awaken with divine dental work in the form of mysterious gold fillings and gold teeth. All of it sounded ridiculous to me but I kept my mouth shut. All I knew was that I’d just witnessed the worst, most heart-wrenching poverty I’d ever seen. I told Cathy I felt like I’d been hit upside the head with a cement block.
Now she was ranting to me about pixy dust on her cheeks?!!
Still, I had to admit it was pretty strange. It disappeared the moment we tried to remove it from her skin but it stayed on the three girls for days. A picture of them hung on our wall in Hawaii for years.
Pretty soon gold dust testimonies were rampant throughout charismania until some big-name megachurches notorious for hosting “glory clouds” got caught pouring gold glitter into air ducts.
“Gold dust mold dust. Whatever!” I thought and dismissed the whole thing.
Then I heard a podcast featuring a pastor who claimed to have seen gold dust in his church. He’d been in Jerusalem praying when a Rabbi approached him to ask what he was doing. “Why I’m praying for the peace of Jerusalem.” The pastor replied. That sparked the Rabbi’s interest. Somehow the conversation got around to the subject of gold dust at which point the Rabbi freaked out. “Gold dust is falling on the gentiles?! Gold dust is falling on the gentiles!!” He exclaimed. Apparently, somewhere within extra-biblical Jewish literature, there is an expected prophetic sign of the coming of Messiah involving gold dust falling on the gentiles.
The betrothal or engagement period for a Jewish marriage is one year. During this time the bride and groom do not see each other at all.After the betrothal ceremony, and just before leaving for a year to prepare a home for his future bride, the bridegroom would give her a Matan. According to the Rabbi, this was traditionally a gift of gold and signified a pledge of his love for her. It was to be a reminder, that he was thinking of her while they were apart and that he would return at the appointed time to receive her as his wife.
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Suddenly, the absurd didn’t seem quite so absurd.
Fast forward to Cerro Azul Meambar Honduras last year. It was about a week after our house was destroyed in the landslide. We had the clothes on our backs, food, and a temporary place to lay our heads but otherwise, we didn’t know what we should do. We knew worse things can and do happen. Still, there is an element of suffering in losing everything you own and finding oneself suddenly homeless in the third world. Should I throw in the towel and go home? Oh shut up, Brian! Instead of throwing in the towel, we threw ourselves into outreaches to get food, water purifiers, beds, and clothing, etc. to those most in need. It was mostly selfish.
After all the best way to cope when you are hurting is to help someone who is hurting more.
Cathy was sick on the last day and wasn’t with us as we delivered the last bags of rice and beans. The crisis adrenaline was wearing off as we headed back to our vehicle and I started to experience some oh so irrational and unspiritual feelings of lostness as waves of fleshy negativity rushed through my brain. Was God punishing us? Was this a warning? “His sheep hear His voice.” Did I not hear Him? Had I gone against his will by moving here? Did Mat 7:21-23 apply to me? Shut up Brian! Sure I could acknowledge the theological error cognitively but the emotions remained.
That’s part of being a fallen human on a fallen earth.
The post-hurricane heat and humidity were heavy that day. Suddenly a cool breeze picked up and blew on my face as the four of us approached our vehicle. We all noticed a small whirlwind of gold dust swirling by the front passenger door where I had previously been sitting. It was more than a little freakish to see gold dust-covering just my side of the car. I’d never seen anything like it. All I can say is that it brought tears to my eyes and I can not describe the completely irrational yet profound sense of relief, assurance, and peace that converged with what I was seeing. It was as if God was inaudibly speaking,
“Don’t worry. I know you.”
Since then Cathy and I have become more eschatologically oriented in our approach to the gospel. Not in a conspiratorial, “the vaccine is the mark of the beast” sort of way as so many seem prone. But in the sense that the primary task in missions is a participation in the preparation of a spotless bride for a wedding and a wedding feast.
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev 19:6-10
That preparation includes studying ourselves approved as we are commanded to do. 2 Tim 2:15 so we can be good Acts 17:11 Bereans and avoid being deceived. Mat 24:4 It also involves watching and praying and miracles, healings, signs and wonders. Some are for all the world to see. Others may be very personal. After all, the very first miracle Jesus ever performed was only known by a few. John 2 The preparation of the bride involves knowing the grace, love, and kindness of God. It also involves knowing His severity and coming wrath. It involves blessing and the experience of abundance. It involves suffering, loss and persecution. 2 Tim 3:12
Our God is a God of this and that.
If we are to know Him we must first know about Him through His word. Sorry, but reading books by people who claim to go to heaven and dialogue with the Father everyday instead is not going to cut it. Yet if we only know about Him and never know Him personally then what does it matter if we know about Him at all? Even worse, if I claim to know Him but the things I know contradict what He says about Himself in His word then who is it that I know? Hence Mat 7:21-23
Yeah, that’s a mind-bender.
As I often explain to atheists when they strive to refute Christianity, I love my wife. I can not prove to them that I love my wife. Neither can they prove that I don’t. I know that I know and that’s all there is to it. Intimacy with God works the same. By the same token, I don’t take every intimate interaction with my wife and make a doctrine of marriage out of it. Instead, I look to God’s word and compare myself, my experience and my marriage to His standard. Everything that is true, everything that matters is rooted in the fact that Jesus is the bridegroom and we are His bride. We expectantly await his return in faith with the hope that we will not be found naked Rev 16:15 and or without wedding garments Mat 22:11-14. We do so despite experiences and external circumstances not because of them. Tribulation, suffering, and persecution remain the only real guarantees for us in this age. Still, the promise of our blessed hope remains. Titus 2:13 I’m not about to make a doctrine out of my gold dust experience. And you shouldn’t use it to support or refute those of anyone else. Sound doctrine is derived from scripture alone. Still, if Jesus places His hand on your shoulder in a breeze, lights a bush on fire and speaks to you through it, or gifts you with a gold dust Matan while you wait, that’s great. I recommend receiving it the same way you are called to receive the James 1:1-4 joy of having your faith tested and with a clear understanding of its purpose. Don’t dismiss it, or worse – make it an idol of it as so many do. Just be grateful and receive His peace and the blessed assurance that He knows you. Then get back to the business of knowing Him more through His word, spending time in the secret place with Him so you can more fully obey Him, love Him and become more fully conformed to His image such that He knows you even more.
In the endyou might know this about God. Others might know about that. But none of us really know God until we know Him as the God of this and that.
I just finished reading 1 Samuel and all the corresponding Psalms. I find this to be one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible with mentorship being just one underlying theme beginning with that between Samuel and Eli. God used Eli to teach Samuel to discern His voice. Yet Eli’s life was a disaster. Ironically the first message Samuel received from God and was told to proclaim was that Eli and his family would be cut off and that no sacrifice could be offered for forgiveness.
When was the last time you heard a prophetic word like that?
Samuel went on to anoint and mentor Saul and finally David both of whom committed the most abominable sins. Saul disobeyed God then made excuses to justify his actions. So God rejected him as King. Amazingly, Saul was more concerned with how people viewed him than he was about his status in the eyes of God. 1 Sam 15:30 He had zero interest in God’s ultimate plan beyond his own role in it.
David committed adultery with his friend’s wife then had him killed. His actions were not without consequences but God forgave him because he repented. Even so, a gentle displacement story did not work and David only repented when Nathan confronted him directly. 2 Samuel 12. Later David is mentioned by Paul in Acts 13 as “a man after God’s own heart.” and his faith is acknowledged in the Heb 11 Hall of Faith.
Eli andSaul not so much.
It occurs to me that I have had one or two Eli’s, a couple three David’s, and a whole slew of Saul’s for mentors since I first surrendered to Jesus. All of the Saul’s were gifted and charismatic men who exert tremendous influence over people in Jesus’s name. My immaturity magnetized me to become attached to them. Some were tremendous teachers. Others were gifted in prophecy and healing. Still, others could raise financial support in ways reminiscent of Moses bringing forth water from a rock. A few of these men behaved in ways that would result in an immediate loss of following and financial support were people to witness what lay just behind the Man of God façade. As is so often case they fell into the trap where their purpose and livelihood became contingent upon their being honored by men rather than God.
That’s a lot of pressure.
More than one of these men was prone to dishonesty, childish, and even violent outbursts when things didn’t go their way. Still, the issue was not the improprieties that can always be forgiven but the prideful refusal to acknowledge the sin and repent. Each time we parted ways. I haven’t heard from any of them since. Though I am told one of them is still periodically asks if I am saying anything bad about him.
David is the model.
I will admit that having my belief and trust violated has at times tempted me to believe that God delivered these men into my hands by exposing them like He delivered Saul onto David twice. Still, responding like David is my goal and it is not my right let alone my responsibility to expose them to the world. Hence, I will not be naming names. The relevant point that I am working toward is that Saul and all of these contemporary typological Saul’s had zero interest in eschatology. One of them loudly declared,
“Let me tell you something! I don’t give a rip about eschatology!!”
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 1 Cor 16:22
I’ve written about Maranatha before, the Aramaic word that depending on how it is pronounced means Jesus has come – Jesus is coming. It brackets the Christian life and history as a whole. All that occurs in the space between is ancillary to the truth maranatha represents. Furthermore, It is utterly impossible to comprehend the Bible and especially the the New Testament apart from an eschatological Maranatha focus.
This past Sunday I gave a message to the children and staff from our alma mater, the City of Refuge. I began with the question, “If you don’t know where you are going how will you get there?” It was a very brief, shoot from the hip outline of history beginning in Gen 3:15 with an emphasis on the origin, meaning and significance of Jesus’s reference to Himself as the Son of man and the culmination of human history in a wedding and the final declaration of victory in Rev 22:17.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
That said, it wasn’t teaching as much as a taste that hopefully inspired some to Acts 17:11 “Bereanhood”. The point that I hope everyone got is that Jesus’s declaration “It is finished!” does not mean everything is fulfilled. The gospel of the kingdom will only be fulfilled in its entirety upon His return in accordance with Dan 7:13-14, Mat 24:30, Acts 1:11, 1Cor 15:50-58, etc. Until then the primary task at hand is the preparation of a spotless bride, otherwise known as the church. Those with an exclusive focus on “Jesus has come” are usually just selling cheap grace, fire insurance, and the false promise of “your best life now”. The true gospel is at its core future-oriented. Therefore all Christians are called to a solid eschatological orientation.
How do we do that?
We can start by resolving to not reinvent the wheel by repeating all of King Solomon’s lessons in the book of Ecclesiastes. If you’ve never heard of King Solomon, he was the richest and wisest man in history. He experienced and possessed all the worldly things that a human being possibly could. Not because he was a hedonist. But because he sought the ultimate meaning and purpose of life. His conclusion? Nothing is new. Anything you think is new has already been done. Everything is meaningless including wisdom. But wisdom can save your life. Our only hope, meaning and purpose is to remember our Creator in the days of our youth, love God and keep His commandments. This is the whole duty of man.
It certainly doesn’t mean a perfect adherence to 613 rules. If you are confused about this stop reading now and go to Eph 2 and Rom 7and 8. The Old Testament proves that fulfilling the law by ourselves is impossible. Jesus’s triumph on the cross frees us from that burden. That said, I submit that
the most concise daily plan for living in preparation for the wedding is outlined in Prov 3:5-8.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
As I explained to the kids, trusting in the Lord with all your heart rather than our own understanding means believing what God’s word says. It is our map. Of course, a map is useless if you don’t know how to read it. Believing means that regardless of how external circumstances look, Jesus not Satan has all authority in heaven and earth. “It is finished!” means Satan is defeated. Whatever happens today is according to the will of God. I explained that the devil did not shut the world down last year. God did. I said I believe it was a call to repentance that for the most part went unheeded. Trusting Him with all one’s heart means believing that everything that happens is advancing His kingdom toward its ultimate fulfillment in the eschaton. Rom 8:28 That final destination appears at the coordinates Rev 22:17. Hence Paul said we are to keep our eyes fixed on things above, not below. Col 3 Things above involve God’s plans.
Things below involve ours.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths means not justgiving lip service to His majesty but making the pursuit of an intimate relationship with Him our primary focus in every moment. Intimacy “with” begins with knowledge “of”. This has been our aim in Honduras and we have testimony after testimony of Him guiding our steps and making our paths straight. It’s not that we don’t ever wrestle in our minds. Only that the repetition of this principle over time increasingly overrides our natural thinking especially in a life or death moment of truth. We used the landslide that destroyed our home as an example and explained how it has yielded so much spiritual and relational fruit in our community. I told them how people siphoning gas from our ministry vehicle had caused us to move it down the mountain less than 24 hours before the landslide. That we have a ministry vehicle at all today is the fruit of stolen gas.
In case you didn’t know “All things” means all things. Rom 8:28
Be not wise in your own eyes;means we should avoid casting ourselves in the role of what Oswald Chambers called an “amateur providence”. We are never to assume we have it all figured out, that we or anyone else is exclusively anointed to hear from God or that any spiritual gift overrides human frailty. Any ability we may have is contingent on our weakness and total dependence on Jesus apart from whom we can do NO-THING. The gifts may be without repentance. But our constant need for repentance remains.
But that is not a popular message to preach if for no other reason than it would require preachers to forfeit their dreams of pulpit stardom and repent in the presence of their followers. One of the most prophetic moments for me last year was when the previous Vice President sugar-coated 2 Chron 7:14 and omitted “from their wicked ways” during a MAGA rally prayer. That so many leaders fail or refuse to acknowledge the wickedness of our nation and instead declare our supreme righteousness before God is an assurance that we are a nation under God’s judgment. That so many fail to understand how that could be, is a direct result of negligent church culture. There would be no fake prosperity gospel, CRT, or Qanon Christians if the church was eschatologically focused. If that were the case “fear the LORD and turn away from evil”would apply and dominantly so.The fruit of an eschatological focus is always the fear of God. The fear of God births repentance and repentance, a further conformation to the image of Christ.
Acknowledging God means loving God. Loving God begins with learning everything we can about His character, history, ways, and plans to align our lives with Him and His end game. Not loving God means being obsessed with MY self, MY history, MY opinions, MY ways, and especially MY goals and plans such that I imagine MY goals are his goals instead of making HIS goals mine. While the most blame will be assigned to those who teach, it does not absolve us as individuals of the responsibility to search the scriptures and studying ourselves approved. But don’t take my word for it. Be a Berean and check my work.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 1 Cor 16:22
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14
It’s been over five years since I’ve seen or heard from my old best friend Jason Oyler. Our lives were a wreck when we met and we surrendered to the Lord together in prison. Jason was my best man at our wedding and he lived with us for over a year. Today he’s in a coma for the second time following two back-to-back surfing incidents. I have no idea if he will ever read this let alone if I will have an opportunity to speak directly with him again.
As personalities go, I was and still am a hammer in a world of nails. In contrast, Jason was a ten million lumen lamp that brightened the surroundings where ever he went. My attitude was and is like Paul’s in Lystra. Acts 14:19-20 Jason’s was one of “love covers a multitude of sins.”1 Pet 4:8. I would rant. He would smile. I would argue. He would diffuse my intensity with a joke.
I eventually became a school-based adolescent substance abuse counselor and then a clinical supervisor overseeing six schools on Kauai. Meanwhile, Jason became a journeyman carpenter, then a licensed contractor building million-dollar homes. I only saw him twice during that time. Once when he needed advice on setting boundaries in his relationship. The next was when his first wife died. Other than that neither one of us had the time. That’s my excuse anyway.
I’ve always been good at boundaries.Boundaries are what made me a successful counselor.
The chair was the secure and confidential place in my classroom at Kappa Middle School. It sat behind a partition next to my desk. It was a place where hundreds of hurting children poured out their hearts and souls. A place where I tried to impart hard-earned wisdom and prevent children from choosing paths that Jason and I barely survived. There wasn’t an inch of the chair that didn’t have a name. Many of them faded through the years and were signed over. Naturally, their lack of concern for their own confidentiality was a function of their being children. They were transparent, naïve to the realities of future adult life and the façades required for success in that world.
Still, I am reminded as I write that Jesus made being childlike a prerequisite for Heaven.
Jason was always childlike. He’d have been a great adolescent counselor.
I was a good counselor because nothing ever freaked me out. I could listen to the most heart-wrenching stories, often horror stories, and remain calm, rational, and detached. I lasted ten years in a field where most people burn out in less than two. I’d still be working there if I hadn’t left for the mission field.
“How do you stay so straightfaced Mr?” the kids would ask.
I got even better at boundaries as time went on and more clients died. Clients who OD and commit suicide cause counselors to quit. Yet I even videoed one funeral for the family of a child with whom I’d worked closely for years. “How do you do that and not cry?” people asked. “I’m crying inside.” I replied. I wasn’t lying. I remember the sheer number of people who showed up to grieve his death. I guess they were crying inside too. Still, I wondered, as his friends poignantly poured his ashes into the sea, where were all these people before he put that noose around his neck. Where they repenting now?
Intimacy is something I mention a lot. But the truth be told I suck at it. Not with God in my secret place. I’ve got that down. But with other people. I can give the impression of intimacy because I care enough to read and listen to what people think, analyze it, ask questions, and explain exactly how and why I think it is or isn’t true. Yet I rarely go deep into the discomfort of bearing the burdens of others. I rely on Cathy to do that. When people like Jason move on and out of my life it never seems to bother me much. If I am perfectly honest, one thing I liked most about counseling was that intimacy is forbidden. Most people require years of training in how to avoid it. Not me. I’d have an easier time getting beheaded than weeping with those who weep. And don’t offer me the “man” excuse and blame it on the society in which I was raised. Society has, in my opinion, already overdosed on estrogen and gender is just another excuse. It’s even easier to shut off my emotions in a crisis, call a spade a spade, or remain cool as ice during a disaster. Sure it’s handy if you’re staring down the barrel of a gun or surrounded by spear-wielding Shuar in the Amazon. People always said I was the one guy they would want with them if they were attacked in an alley. The thing is I cried when I heard about Jason and I’m choking back tears now. Only no one knows it, not even my wife. At least not until she read this. Like most people I have all sorts of reasons for being the way I am. You’d probably agree with most of them if I laid them all out. Still, it’s just an excuse.
Somewhere in the course of the trauma that Jesus guaranteed, I made a decision.
I chose to be who I am.
“For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.”Mat 25:3-7
Every sermon I have heard on these verses focused on the oil being representative of Holy Spirit. That may be true. Yet the purpose of a lamp is not to store oil. Lamps burn oil to shine light. Biblically speaking, light is representative of truth. I always imagined that “trimming their lamps” meant dimming them to preserve precious oil. However, trimming a lamp involves cutting away the tar and impurities from the wick and shaping it to reduce the smoke and soot that dims the glass and achieve the hottest, cleanest and brightest flame yielding the most light.
Light exposes what is hidden in darkness.
A lot of people are talking about the church today. Why is it so broken, divided, and powerless? Why are there so many false gospels emerging in Jesus’s name and so many Christians deconstructing in the name of love? Why do so many millennials do “community” so well yet succumb to the most appalling and heretical theologies? The easy response is “because they were never taught.” Hence, I originally began writing and framing the problem based on the history and hypocrisy of the church, its burning of brethren at the stake in Jesus’s name before the Pilgrims sailed for Plymouth rock. I was going to focus on it’s railing against transgenderism today in defiance of Rom 2:1 while celebrating Ishtar, the god of the transgender movement with bunnies and painted eggs in Jesus’ name. Not because I’m pro transgenderism in the church but because judgment must come first to the house of God. I was going to talk about repentance, that true repentance is rooted in the right belief. Right belief comes from studying oneself approved. True as that may be belief is also rooted in a divine revelation – of Holy spirit conviction. This is what gives us the right to become sons and daughters of the living God. Not knowledge derived from study alone. Interestingly the 5th Step of 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, a group that is marginalized by many evangelicals today and whose origins can be traced back to the Welsh revival in 1904, is perhaps one of the most biblically sound descriptions of repentance anywhere. After writing out a “fearless and searching moral inventory” of oneself in the 4th step, the 5th step that comes straight out of James 5:16 says that we must admit “to God, ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”. Anyone who has done this knows the fear and humiliation that comes with reading every sin you can recollect to another. Ideally you trust the person to whom you confess based on the fact that they have undergone this same humiliating process themselves. Even more interesting is the statement in the Book Alcoholics Anonymous that one’s ultimate ability to abstain from alcohol in the future is contingent upon how thoroughly this step is done. This is consistent with 1 Cor 11:28-30 regarding our participation in Communion or the Lord’s Supper.
“A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup.For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead.”
Once again the light of the great Oiler, a.k.a. Holy Spirit is shining on me – exposing me, prompting me to repent. That it was prompted by my friend Jason Oyler is perhaps the irony of God. When Jason left our home it was with a smile on his face and gratitude in his heart. I was mad. I thought we were going to build a ministry together. My pride was hurt and I felt betrayed. Of course, I never told him how I felt and I certainly didn’t give him reason to believe I wanted to hear his heart. Deep down I knew he was tired of the incessant hammering. I don’t know if I will be able to confess my sin to him so I am confessing to all of you now.
I was selfish, self-centered, prideful and a really bad friend.
There’s a trail of people like Jason strewn in the wake of my laboring for God.
In case you are wondering I am not on the verge of deconstructing, or repenting for being a hammer. I’m just reflecting on why I am a hammer in the first place and maybe recounting the cost. There certainly is a place for not backing down, for not loving one’s life even onto death – especially today. The truth will always be a stumbling block to some. When I hear of celebrated theologians like Dr. Paul Maxwell and so many others who have publicly deconstructed and formally rejected Christianity, my initial reaction is “well I guess he never was one of us.”1 John 2:19 That’s probably true. Still, I have to wonder. Am I just making excuses for being the way I am? After all, that love covers a multitude of sins especially when loving hurts is as much the truth that Paul wrote, we only “know in part” as is boldly declaring it while haters hurl stones.
Haters hurling stones is never proof in itselfthat one is right.
Being conformed to His image involves considering these things.
I know that God will show me as I continue to pray and ask Him to “search me”Psalm 139:23-24. Jason and I used to pray that together during Cleansing Stream seminars as we brought our filthy lives before the throne of grace in a more evangelically approved version of the 5th Step. I don’t necessarily agree with their theology now. But one thing is certain. They’ve got James 5:16 down
More truth be told, this past year has been an ongoing cleansing stream for us, a time of deep searching and repentance for both me and Cathy. And while it may not be a twenty six page catalogue of abominations like my first humiliation, it was none the less profound and in many way more powerful. I’m not talking about the typical “oh yeah I did that, sorry God” and move on entitled type of repentance. I’m talking about deep “Oh what a wretched man I am who will save me from this body of death!” repentance. The kind of repentance that makes the fear and humiliation of telling another human your dirt seem absurd. Many in the church believe it shouldn’t apply if you are truly saved. Yet I submit that it is evidence of sanctification and deep calling to deep. A divinely appointed encounter with Acts 2:43 “awe” that more correctly translates to TERROR like one experiencesthe first time in the ocean when your not a great swimmer, the tide pulls you out and your feet can’t touch bottom. Long story short God showed us where we had been apathetic toward His word in the past and redacted it to make it fit what we wanted it to say like getting married after both being divorced. No we are not going to go all legalistic and try to fix a sin with another sin by divorcing again. But don’t go trying to make excuses for us ether. The words of Jesus are the words of Jesus. It wasn’t as much the physical sins that can most easily be taken before the throne of grace, but rather the flippancy with which we had regarded parts of His word and His commands. It was the kind of repentance where we stood confidently clothed in the righteousness of Christ one minute and the fear of God was upon us in the next. It happened separately and months apart. On one hand, it was the most terrifying experience in which we didn’t know how we could go on. On the other, we were saddened when it’s intensity receded. I say receded because it is still working in us now. In my case, it was a clear view, and recognition of who God is and exactly what I look like in contrast with His Holiness and most importantly apart from the shed blood of Christ. I know it’s all the rage to worship a self-esteem-affirming God today. The “ME in him” God who “chases ME down and fights ’til I’m found” and who erases every bad feeling I might ever have about myself. But I’m not talking about a middle school giddy, glory cloud and gold dust blowing from air ducts to the beat of “No Longer Slaves” kind of encounter. I am talking about a supernatural revelation of His holy severity without which His grace and love are impossible. A 1 Cor 3:10-23 dross burning, Heb 12 shaking by the “consuming fire” who’s discipline we dare not refuse!
Here’s the point. I can not claim to be a missionary let alone a minister of the gospel and not walk my talk. That’s why I’m sharing my faults instead of promoting a false image of super missionary moral perfection in pursuit of a celebrity pulpit. Transparency, confession, and repentance are foundational to not only our faith but our salvation. They are better modeled than preached. And while I know my friend Jason will probably just smile because love never keeps a record of wrongs, I hope and pray I get the opportunity to repent to his face, to say I’m sorry for taking our friendship, our brotherhood in Christ for granted. I want him to know I am grateful for the lessons God taught me through him and is teaching me now. I know that “God causes all “things” to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” And while some might argue that those “things” are predestined by God. I can not help but wonder if some might be better if we made different choices along the way and didn’t feel so darn entitled to have God to clean up our mess.
Finally, if we are going to fix what is broken, weak and sick, and dead and bring hope and salvation to a rapidly dying world we have got to begin by dropping our façades. That starts with a concrete, real time practice of James 5:16.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
And don’t tell me you don’t have a façade. That’s like smoking a cigarette then telling a former smoker you don’t smoke. Do we want the revival everyone has been praying for and prophesying for years? The only way it will happen is if we are broken before God and each other. And as much as I’d like to frame it in the context of “don’t do this – do that!” I don’t think what is required is going to come by the usual charismatic conjuring or knowledge or any other act of human will but only by the sovereign hand of the God who was crucified for our sin, was resurrected, predestined us for adoption and will judge us in eternity.
That said we can make our hearts willing and we can pray.
Lord let your holiness, severity and the fear of you fall. Shake us Lord. Burn off the dross and grant us the gift of repentance in Jesus’s name.
The majority of my time in Honduras is spent bringing food to the foodless, roofs to the roofless, school to the schoolless, and hopefully sparking people to ask us “why the heck are you doing this?” so that we can tell them who sent us and thereby bring hope to the hopeless. Still, I am by nature, if not appointment a watchman on the wall. Hence my blogging usually takes the form of warnings to the body of Christ, and those who mock us. I sometimes wonder how I happen upon the information that I do as certainly don’t go looking for it. This week my wife listened to a sermon by one of America’s most prominent pastors who gave a sermon where he explained that it was NOT God’s will for the Apostle Peter to be martyred.
He said Peter died because no one prayed.
The longer we are on the mission field the more grateful we are that we took the time to go to a missionary school in Africa before coming to Honduras. We learned from so many different teachers with different points of view. One particularly poignant moment during this time was when Indonesian evangelist and author of Like a Mighty Wind Mel Tari walked into our classroom pavilion occupied by two hundred young student missionaries sprawled out on the cement. Some were on their faces in prayer. Others lay slain in the spirit. Still, others sat uncontrollably twitching and rhythmically proclaiming “Woah!” – “Woah!” as evidence of some deeply intimate interaction with Holy Spirit. None of this was happening to me as I stood skeptically watching while at the same time double-mindedly chastising myself for my lack of faith. “Who am I to question God?” I thought as I quenched my internal dissent. Imagine my surprise when this pastor who had verifiable experience with seeing people healed and raised from the dead when he prayed, suddenly began yelling
“Get up!” “Come on! Knock it off!” “You know what you are doing! Get up!!
Mel seemed quite unperturbed by their offense as they scrambled to their feet and he began to teach from the Word of God about the importance for missionaries to both know it and rely upon it.
I am tempted to call him a modern-day Paul, yet given the current wave of exposed sin among celebrity leaders within the body of Christ, I should probably point out that this is not an endorsement of Mel Tari beyond what I saw and heard him teach that night. I am passionate about the Word of God. That being said 1 Cor 2: 14-15 is clear. Do we serve a supernatural God who expresses His love, power, and sovereignty through giftings in His people today? Most definitely! Are fake signs and wonders rampant today? Most definitely! No one counterfeits a counterfeit. Bottom line; there is no room for the real if we are satisfied with the counterfeit. The problem as I see it is that amidst a shift from dead legalism to renewed spiritual authenticity sparked by the Jesus People movement in the ’60s and ’70s, at least two generations inadvertently ended up with an epistemology based on emotion, experience, and appearance instead of scripture.
Instead of calling a spade a spade like Mel Tari we pretended the fake was real. Instead of raising Bereans who tested everything and based truth on the inherency of scripture regardless of how it feels, we gave our children a post-modern poetic license to “have it your way” provided no one’s feelings get hurt. Our failure to teach truth has produced a celebrity pastor-driven trans-truth that soothes itching ears where everyone is confused. Today Christians either condone or quietly recoil from what society has has become all the while denying the church’s complicity in leading our children straight down the path of Romans 1:18-32.
Sin is a path not an event.
Ordinarily, I would have been surprised when I happened upon BiteLabs.org a company that has been in business since 2014. But I’d already heard Bill Gates say that everyone should shift to eating synthetic meat as a means of fighting climate change.
In their own words, Bite Labs plans to,
“start with top-quality ingredients and time-honored recipes for the creation of fine cured meats. We mix celebrity and animal meats, grown in the house through a proprietary culturing process, into curated salami blends. Starting with biopsied myoblast cells, we grow our healthy, rich, meats in Bite Labs’ own bioreactors. Our process yields high-quality, luxury protein, in a sustainable manner that eliminates the environmental and ethical concerns associated with traditional livestock production.”
No, it’s not the Onion or the Babylon Bee.
While I don’t think they are cleared to produce human meat for your consumption just yet. The point is they are seriously trying and are thus far mostly unopposed by the public at large.
Science fiction buffs over 50 might remember the 1973 film Soylent Green set in a future NYC in 2022.
“Soylent Green is people!!!”
The seeds of the past seem to be germinating everywhere today.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a book written by a Marxist Brazilian educator named Paulo Freire in 1968. For some reason, I still have a clear mental picture of it sitting on my parent’s bookshelf. I was maybe 8 at the time and never gave it a second look. That such an obscure memory is still fresh in my mind seems weird enough. It’s even weirder because my dad was a mechanical engineer for the military-industrial complex who worked on nuclear submarines and other top-secret projects during the Cold War.
Back then an imminent Soviet nuclear holocaust was almost as scary as COVID is today.
In 1963 FBI agent Cleon Skousen presented a 45 point American Communist party plan to congress. In the decades that followed the best conservative minds in America went into government, law enforcement, and the military to fight the emerging communist threat.
“Better dead than red!” they used to say.
Meanwhile, as Mary Graber explains, in Bill Ayers: Teaching Revolution real communists suspended their bomb-building and assassination plots and set their sights on the nation’s youth. Education became their primary field of battle. Bill Ayers focused on school curriculums. Of course, education would also be important when they took control of the government because millions of Americans would need to be placed in reeducation camps in the southwest. Interestingly, the Weather Underground whom Bill Ayers was a founding member, estimated that approximately 25 million Americans would cling to capitalist ideals, and would subsequently need to be killed. As I explained in my previous post. Critical Race Theory and all its Social Justice stepchildren invaded academia, culture, the church, and now government in that order and is nothing more than rebranded Marxism dressed in a suit of pseudo compassion.
For the record, I am going to beat that horse until it turns to dust or I do.
“For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.” Luke 16:8
We Christians are supposed to be wise as serpents. Too often we are dumber than doves.
In related news, California is scheduled to vote on a statewide proposed Ethnic Studies Curriculum that calls for the “decolonization” of American society and includes having students chant to the Aztec god of human sacrifice asking for “a revolutionary spirit” and the power to become warriors for social justice.
Will it pass? Who knows? As in the case of Celebrity Sausage, the mere fact that it is being seriously considered should be enoughto qualify as a serious concern.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that this Ethnic Studies Curriculum, is based on the book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” and instructs students to “challenge racist, bigoted, discriminatory, imperialist, colonial beliefs” and critique “white supremacy, racism and other forms of power and oppression.”
One of the program chairs R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, labels the United States a “Eurocentric, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal, heteropatriarchal, and anthropocentric paradigm brought from Europe.”
The programers assert that whites began by “grabbing the land,” “hatching hierarchies,” and “developing for whiteness”. This resulted in “excess wealth” that “became the basis for the capitalist economy” and subjected minorities to “domestication” and “zombification.” White Christians committed “genocide” against indigenous tribes, destroyed their gods, and replaced them with Christianity.
If the curriculum is passed 10,000 public schools, serving 6 million children will be taught to “name, speak to, resist, and transform the hegemonic Eurocentric neocolonial condition” and engage in “transformational resistance” that includes a final solution of…
“Counter genocide” against whites.
Obviously, there is some truth to claims regarding ancestral sins. Isaiah was clear in chapter 64 and Paul quoted Isaiah in Romans chapter 3.
No one is righteous. Not one.
That’s why Jesus came.
That Mat 24:7 ethnos versus ethnos has been a recurring motif since Cain killed Able is a no-brainer. While Cain is ironically the originator of the victim stance that drives today’s CRT and intersectionality, ethnos against ethnos is not a systemic issue. It is a sin issue. That said the problem with Critical Race Theory is not so much in its identification of relational errors and exposure of ancestral sin but in its eternalizing them for the sake of retribution, reparations, and power. Mostly it’s power. They call this justice. The insistence that Western civilization and culture ARE its previous sins is a strawman. Critical Race Theorists ignore positive contributions while framing the sins of “yesterday” as the existential realities of “today” on computers and smart devices invented by those whom they despise. That every past sin committed by so-called white European males was done in the name of Jesus or in any way reflects His teachings is at best a false equivalency.
Of course, we could just quote Solomon and say there is nothing new under the sun. All of this has been said and done before. But that would be another false equality because that same truth applies to Y2K and the Holocaust. The fact is that false hermeneutics and 2 Tim 4 ear-tickling teachings are more rampant today than at any other point in my lifetime and maybe even since the Gnostics threatened to subvert the gospel. Think I’m exaggerating? I just listened to an ordained, previously orthodox minister of the gospel with 132K followers on Tik Tok explain that Jesus was a racist who was corrected by a Syrophoenician woman when she spoke truth to power in Mark chapter 7.
If you can not explain why his interpretation is utter heresy then you are among those to whom I had in mind to help when I began this particular rant. That’s ok. It’s not your fault. Message me and I’ll be happy to explain the error along with why challenging it may one day get you thrown in prison or worse.
Paul was clear that all who desire to live godly will be persecuted. 2 Tim 3:12. It is my opinion that contemporary western culture is on the verge of experiencing persecution in ways that most still do not believe are possible. Yet anyone alive today who survived a Marxist regime will not hesitate to tell you that it is not only possible, it is now almost inevitable.
If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. Rev 13:10
No this is not a political post, a mark of the beast freak-out post, or even a rallying cry to oppose evil. Not because I don’t think people should but because it’s probably too late. This is just a Mat 24:6 “see that you are not alarmed” weather report, a “hey guys I see a storm brewing from my proverbial perch on the wall” fig tree rant. Mostly this is a call for true Christians to 2 Tim 2:15 study themselves approved so they can rightly divide the word of truth if and when the Bible goes down the neo-Marxist deconstruction toilet with Dr. Sues and the Potato heads. Therin lies another dead horse that I will continue to beat. We need to prepare. Richard Wurmbrand memorized 365 verses countering fear, one for each day of the year in anticipation of the Russian Communists taking control of Romania long before they invaded. Little did he know he would need every one of those verses fourteen times over. We’ve ministered in Romania. Our friends there are very concerned about the future of the USA. And while there is a prideful part of me that sometimes fantasizes about looking my mockers in the eye, and saying “I told you so.” when the events in the Olivet Discourse become undeniably real. In truth, it’s because I know the greatest revival the world has ever seen will also take place during this time. ( Joel 2) Even so, I hope that someone takes what I write to heart now, turns to Jesus, and repents before it is too late. Time is short. Make no mistake,
There is a divinely appointed future point in time called “TOO LATE”.
This is a companion post to God Chose Joe Biden in which I addressed the errors of false prophecy, political idolatry, and replacement theology on the part of the politically leavened “Right” in the USA some of whom still believe DJT will be president in 2021.
This post is about the political leaven on the Left.
I previously covered this in a longer blog and lost several friends in the process. Perhaps I will lose more with this post. This is the cliff notes version for those who need to know what they are up against but do not have the time to wade through the entire philosophical genealogy of the Woke movement.
My use of terms Left, Woke, CRT, Marxism, etc. is not intended as a personal attack on any person or group. They are used in reference to errant beliefs and belief systems.
Now that Joe Biden is president and pumping out executive orders like confetti to include mandatory indoctrination in Critical Race Theory a.k.a “unconscious bias”/”sensitivity training” everywhere the Federal Government has jurisdiction, many Christians are finding themselves frustrated, confused, and even led astray.
What is proposed in an emotionally packaged promotion of compassion, and advocacy for basic human rights is in fact the opposite.
In terms of Christianity, Woke is the contemporary term for Critical Race Theory (CRT) applied to the gospel. Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell is most often credited with founding Critical Race Theory in the 1960s. Its original intended application was in the realm of jurisprudence. However, it soon made its way into the halls of general academia. Only recently has it overtly manifested itself in the daily lives of Americans.
Many are still unawareof its insidiousness
CRT was derived from Critical Theory, the brainchild of failed Marxists in the Frankfurt School of Economics during the early 20th century. I say failed Marxists because Karl Marx believed in an inevitable revolution of the working class versus the capitalist class (think today’s 1%). Yet, he did not account for the fact that while the rich indeed got richer, the poor got richer too. Given that Marxism requires conflict between oppressor and oppressed classes, Critical Theorists substituted the idea of race and gender-based disparity for the previously failed model based on economics alone. Minorities and women became the preferred oppressed and white males the oppressors. While it is certainly true that disparities have always existed in society, it is important to understand that these disparities were and are just a means to an end for these rebranded Marxists.
The Keyis the CRITICAL
The “Critical” in CRT is not the same as the “Critical” in Critical thinking. Critical thinking is based on the discipline of logic and the laws of coherence and correspondence. Critical thinking applied to problem-solving is solution-focused. Critical Theory is problem-focused. Critical Thinking is constructive. Critical Theory is deconstructive. All Marxist revolutions begin with historical, cultural, linguistic, and institutional deconstruction then revision. Hence Critical Race Theory proponents are frequently labeled Cultural Marxists or Neo-Marxists.
Many dispute this title.
Still, we know a tree by its fruit.
Similar to atheists who frame their defense of atheism based on what atheism “is not” CRTs do the same when confronted with its abject lack of coherence. For example, if I dispute the framing of my identity based on “whiteness” because it is racist, CRTs reply that while my “whiteness” does in fact make me guilty of racism, whiteness has nothing to do with skin color. If the objection is raised in the context of a conversation with a black CRT they will say black people can not be racist only white people can. “But I thought it wasn’t about skin color?” you say. “Exactly!” That their reasoning is completely incoherent is irrelevant because knowledge derived from the aforementioned Critical Thinking framework is itself a form of colonialism and a product of the white male-dominated patriarchy. Unfortunately, the ridiculousness of CRT does not diminish the existential danger it represents.
CRT is a worldview.
All world views are based on one or more presuppositions. Some basic Christian presuppositions are that God created the universe and all people are created in His image. Truth, reality, and morality are objective, absolute, and enumerated in scripture that is itself inherent. Objective means it is coherent and corresponds to reality as defined by our Christian worldview. A simplistic example of objective truth would be that if I jump off a cliff in my surf shorts I am going to hit the ground below. Absolute means the same thing will happen every time. While Christians regard the Word of God as absolute objective truth, CRTs consider reality and the very idea of truth, especially moral truth to be a social construct. Language is its primary building block.
Hence what one says to a CRT frequently carries more weight than what one does.
Postmodernism is another root of the Woke. Postmodernism maintains that truth if it exists at all is relative. What is true for you might not be true for me. What matters is that we respect one another’s FEELINGS. That means I respect your right to determine your truth. You respect my right to determine mine. If gay marriage and abortion fit your moral paradigm I should accept it. If any implied disagreement on my part hurts your feelings it is my moral duty to apologize for being insensitive. In some places insensitivity may be grounds for being charged with a hate crime. In the context of the Woke church if you say you heard such and such from God I am supposed to reply “wow that’s so awesome!” even if scripture contradicts every single word you spoke. Of course, the Bereans in Acts 17:11 would say otherwise but who am I to question God?
Postmodernism was a catalyst for progressivism to enter the church. Progressivism applied to Christianity views the understanding of scripture to be evolving in conjunction with the moral advancement of humankind. Gay marriage and limitless abortion are moral advancements. The Word of God is a living document. Its interpretation is subject to revision. Add CRT to the mix and traditional orthodox interpretations of scripture become invalidated due to their oppressive, racist, patriarchal roots. Hence today’s progressive church frames Jesus as a revolutionary, who fought the patriarchy on behalf of the poor and oppressed and was subsequently murdered for His impassioned pursuit of social justice.
Intersectionality further groups society based on oppressed versus oppressor status. Influence and authority are determined according to the number of intersectional groups to which one claims membership. In a word, it monetizes the “victim stance”. For example, black is one group. Women is another. There are also Muslim, LGBTQ, and soon-to-be Pedophiles a.k.a. MAPs (Minor Attracted Persons) to name a few. The point here is that a black, Muslim, LGBTQ woman has more clout than a mere black woman. Oppressor groups have four categories white, male, cisgender, and Christian. While it is possible to have membership in both oppressed and oppressor groups e.g. a white woman, or gay male, white, heterosexual Christian males only qualify as oppressors. Disagreement with this paradigm is labeled “White Fragility” which is to say that one is too weak to accept one’s assigned inferior status as a punching bag in society. Any defensiveness is regarded as further proof of guilt.
Intersectionality adherents further define reality and truth according to “lived experience”. This is called Standpoint Epistemology. Metaphorically speaking, “lived experience” is a form of social credit. Credit scores are elevated according to the number of intersectional groups to which one claims membership but especially according to any relevant lived experiences as an oppressed person. Oppressed groups with proverbial high social credit scores have the right to speak and to be heard. Those with the highest scores become influencers. Oppressors have the right to shut up, listen and admit their guilt. Those who admit their guilt and actively oppose their fellow oppressors are called “allies”. Membership and participation in the “community” is their reward. Community is based on compliance with the group consensus. One point to consider is that while the more orthodox tend to revere the lone believer who opposes the mob and stands alone for truth even onto death, the Woke are more inclined to respect those who conform and value community above all else. Consensus and acceptance is love. Disagreement is hate. Hate must be canceled.
In the case of professing Christians who have been “cheated through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”Col 2:8scripture clearly refutes the foundations of CRT.
Christianity is ultimately about redemption and reconciliation between mankind and God. 2 Cor 5:16-19
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the. ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
CRT defines all human interactions according to power. Power and reparations are the goal.
While it is true that Daniel interceded on behalf of Israel and modeled how we should pray to God regarding the collective sin of a nation, Christianity is predicated on repentance from personal sin, forgiveness from God, and for others as core values without which it is impossible to be a Christian. CRT is obsessed with the past collective often imaginary sins of ancestors we never knew and for whose actions we are to be held responsible. Repentance and forgiveness are not possible because racism is not something one does. Racism is something one is. Eternal penance through never-ending “anti-racism work” and becoming an “ally” are the only path to redemption. Anti-racism work means continually identifying how one is a racist until one dies.
While Christians should be concerned about injustice, such as genuine racial oppression, abortion, abuse, and human trafficking, etc. biblical justice is never promised on earth but only in eternity. The American legal system is based on the idea that it is better that a guilty man go free than for an innocent man to be convicted. In contrast to biblical justice, CRT pursues social justice by aligning oppressed intersectional groups against designated oppressors for the sake of retribution and equity.
Equality versus Equity
Christianity maintains that everyone is created equal in the eyes of God and everyone is equal in the face of truth regardless of social status. “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”Lev 19:15 Equality of opportunity is inferred by scripture.
CRT seeks equity of outcomes where everyone is rendered the same regardless of intelligence, ability, or effort. That one’s greater means is the result of parents who worked 16 hours a day to provide a better future for their children while another used drugs and refused to work at all is irrelevant. Those born into families with greater means must be handicapped in order to make things fair and equitable. Unfortunately, as impassioned Marxist revolutionary pawns repeatedly learned during the previous century, applied Marxism never ends with equity for the poor masses but rather a consolidation of wealth and power among a ruling elite. The point here is that you are dealing with Marxism anytime you hear the word “equity” used in the context of social issues.
An entire Bible study is contained in the scriptures that follow. Copy the scriptures, commit them to memory and formulate your own argument so you are ready in season and out to rightly divide the word of truth and cast down these vain imaginations that exalt themselves above the word of God.
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.” Rev 12:10 The word for “accuse” here is katēgoréō from which the English word categorization is derived. Like Satan, CRTs are forever classifying people into socially constructed subcategories under the primary headings of oppressor and oppressed. Acts 10:34-35, Rom 2:11-16, and Gal 3:28-29 are clear that God is no respecter of persons, genders, social status, or ethnicity. Categorizing anyone apart from the Imago Dei is demonic; period. God’s only criteria for acceptance is that we love and obey Him. Please note, love is impossible apart from free will and obedience. Of course, we weep and pray for all who are blinded by the god of this world many of whom are in our own families 2 Cor 4:4. Still, we know that apart from Christ our most righteous deeds to include our condemnation of others are like filthy rags. Rom 3:10-18, Isa 64. In the end, those not “in Christ Jesus” Eph 2 will perish for their lack of repentance like the Galileans in Luke 13:1-5.
“There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Woke is predicated on a lie
When engaging the Woke it is vital to understand that committed CRTs are never intellectually honest. Not because they are intentionally lying, but because they have a different definition of truth. They will not examine or even acknowledge their own logical fallacies and thinking errors. Rather they divert the conversation, move the proverbial goal posts, redefine their terms and engage in “whataboutism” to keep you on the defensive. As for the Christian Woke, they rarely cite scripture. If they do they do so out of context. Isaiah 61:1 is a favorite that they interpret as speaking about themselves in the context of a personal social justice anointing instead of the prophetic word that Jesus fulfilled in Luke 4:18. In my experience, there is little point in debating with them. Therefore, don’t give way to anger and frustration as this is often their goal. Just define your terms, state your point, preach the gospel, wipe the dust off your feet and move on all the while praying that God would remove the scales from their eyes. Mat 10:14
Finally, when contending with the Woke know that Rom 1:18-32 always applies from the first presupposition regarding God and his creation through the path and composition of evil. Almost every tenant of the Woke is addressed here. Hold your ground and reject Wokness out of hand knowing that it is the spirit of antichrist that you oppose.
I realize this might sound overly bold or even harsh to some. However, I would suggest that we have a choice. Oppose the Woke on philosophical and theological grounds now. Or be faced with the same ethical dilemma that Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced when the Woke gain the limitless power they crave.
Joe Biden has been in the Oval Office for more than a month now and doing everything we feared he would do as well as some things he promised that he wouldn’t. And to think he’s only getting started. Our friends in Romania and those who escaped Venezuela are dumbfounded over American apathy and zeal as the seeds of Marxism sprout in the US. Meanwhile, a substantial portion of Trump supporters continue to cling to a false prophetic hope that Donald Trump will still be president in 2021. I just read the latest QAnon prediction that March 4th is the new projected date. Jeremiah Johnson, the most repentant false prophet recently stated, in his video series entitled I Was Wrong, “the charismatic prophetic movement is deeply sick.” Meanwhile, Trump apostle Johnny Enlow just issued a rebuke and warning to those who would dare criticize God’s prophets like himself.
In a previous post, I correlated the politicization of Christianity with the actions of Christians in Nazi Germany.
As it turns out it all may have started with Eusebius.
Eusebius was among other things the first Church Historian and possibly the unintentional founder of Christian Nationalism under Emperor Constantine. As he wrote in The Life Of The Blessed Emperor Constantine,
“As the sun, when he rises upon the earth, liberally imparts his rays of light to all, so did Constantine, proceeding at early dawn from the imperial palace, and rising as it were with the heavenly luminary, impart the rays of his beneficence to all who came into his presence.”
Constantine was the 1st Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity and suspend the persecution of the Church. That was a good thing. Eusebius loved Constantine. As it turns out Eusebius might have been Constantine’s, Paula White.
Previous to this the early Church met in homes even though many Jewish Christians also continued to attend synagogue. When Constantine converted he made Christianity the official state religion of Rome and the Church came out from the underground into the Basilicas.
Ironically, Basilicas were built for Emperor worship.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians,
“Awake ‘o sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will give you light.”
Light is symbolic of wisdom and truth. Today we have a shortage of both. May I suggest that the current business at hand for the church should not be politics but rather prayer, study, and discussion regarding how the Church is going to be the Church if the current trajectory toward global Marxism continues? People have been talking about a return to the Acts 2 church for decades.
As I explained in the previous post a lot of Christians placed their faith in politics, people, and their hope in false prophecies regarding the reelection of Donald Trump. Poor exegesis and perhaps no exegesis was the cause. Again, I did not want Joe Biden and I firmly believe that he and his administration represent abject evil. Still, God allowed it. He also allowed Nebuchadnezzar. As Christians, we need to depend on God and be guided by the Word instead of politics. Politics is the way of the world. Rather than viewing the times according to a new prophet with a new word from God we are commanded to study ourselves approved and rightly divide the Word of Truth. We are to view ourselves, the events of our lives, and the times in which we live through the lens of scripture. Any serious study regarding the role of prophecy in the New Testament will quickly reveal that it involves Holy Spirit inspired preaching and teaching directly from scripture, not inspired additions to what is already written. That said, false prophecies are a mark of the end times. So is persecution. As for those who proclaim themselves to be apostles and able to operate in all the gifts, the qualification for such a title is given by Paul in 1 Cor 2 Cor 11. It involves being beaten, whipped, caned, shipwrecked, stranded at sea, starved, naked, thirsty, and robbed, considered a weakling, a fool, and persecuted by fellow believers, all the while being a servant to all and above all prioritizing one’s “deep concern for all the churches”. Martyrdom, not prosperity was their final reward.
Our Hope in Two Parts
We must understand that the Gospel message preached by the apostles was two-fold. The first was the Gospel of Salvation whereby Jesus conquered sin and death and made a way for all people to be reconciled to the Father by grace through faith that was in itself a gift so no one may boast. This is the meaning of Jesus’s words “It is finished”. The second was the Gospel of the Kingdom that remains to be fulfilled. Together they are Maranatha. Jesus has come. Jesus is coming. It was not a message of an earthly kingdom NOW, as even the apostles initially thought. While the message was most certainly prophetic it had absolutely nothing to do with our prosperity or comfort in this life. Nor were the disciples consumed with themselves, their identities, or their own reflections as they imagined them to be in God’s eyes. Rather the Gospel of the Kingdom that they preached was an apocalyptic one rooted in the Old Testament, especially the book of Daniel.
So what time is it?
Jesus gives the disciples a near bullet-point outline of events leading up to the establishment of His Kingdom on earth in Mat 24 and the first part of what is commonly known as the Olivet Discourse.
He was extremely clear in answering the disciple’s question regarding the sign of His coming and the end of the age. He prefaced or book ended the outline by pointingto the Temple and saying,
“You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Mat 24:1-2
That prophecy was fulfilled when the second temple was destroyed by the Romans under Titus in 70AD.
First He said to be careful that no one deceives you that many would claim to be “Christ”. It is important to remember that the Bible was not written in English. Therefore we must not take our understanding based upon our English Bible versions for granted. Christ is Greek for “Christos” and means “anointed”. Consider for a moment how flippantly we toss that word around today. “They will deceive many” Mat 24:4-5. While anyone claiming to be Jesus today is sure to be dismissed out of hand, “anointed” also refers to those who presume themselves qualified to speak in His name. Many claimto be anointed today. Many are being deceived.
Then Jesus describes the coming birth pains. War and rumors of war, nation against a nation. While we tend to read “nation” as “country”, nation translates to ethnos or people group. It is the word from which the English word ethnicity is derived. There will be pestilences e.g. plagues and locusts, etc., famines and earthquakes. Of course, all of these have continued throughout history and there are multitudes of false prophets who have tried to time the second coming accordingly. That is perhaps one reason why so many pastors today avoid eschatology completely. We know for certain that all of these have increased in scope and frequency since Jesus was crucified. It would appear that earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and storms, in particular, have increased in size and or frequency over the last several decades. Climate change activists warn of coming droughts and famines.
Then His followers will be hated, persecuted, and killed. This too has continued and is once again on the rise throughout the world today. One need only visit the Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors websites to see that global persecution of Christians is on the rise. More Christians have been martyred in the last century than on all previous centuries combined. Granted the severity of persecution in the US is nowhere near that of places like Iran, China, and Ethiopia to name a few. Yet given the admitted spirit and agenda of the current administration, its sanctioned organizations like BLM, ANTIFA, etc. and the growing negative public perception of Christians it’s not hard to imagine what could be coming soon.
And many will be offended, betray one another. I could be wrongbut I am unaware of any other time in history when the Body of Christ has been so divided.
And hate one another.
Then many false prophets will deceive many.
And lawlessness will abound
And the love of many will grow cold.
It doesn’t require a statistician to see the exponential increase in these four in my lifetime alone. In addition to false teachings in the church, they are increasingly fueled by a post-modern and or neo-Marxist world view that eliminates the idea of objective truth and especially objective moral law. It is the same spirit of anti-Christ that resulted in the deaths of at least one hundred million people in the previous century alone.
But those who endure will be saved.
The exact nature of that endurance is clarified in Rev 12:11
And (in the midst of all this) the gospel will be preached within all of the world as a witness to all Nations (ethnos, people groups) Please note the word “witness” does not refer to passing out tracks on a street corner. Witness means “Martyr”.
This is the opposite bookend in the outline. The verses that follow further clarify what Jesus outlined here.
THIS IS IMPORTANT
You will notice that at no point did Jesus say the church will be evacuated (Raptured) and spared from the Great Tribulation. The truth be told the idea of a Pre-Tribulation rapture never existed before 1830. Jesus was clear. The church must endure and the gospel will be preached amid, and as a result of, that enduring. Those hungry for revival will be happy to know that a deep dive into Joel 2 will reveal that the greatest revival on earth will accompany the greatest tribulation the body of Christ has ever known.
Obviously, my flesh would prefer that the whole world came to Jesus amidst my own comfort and prosperity followed by a quick cloud ticket out before things get uncomfortable.
The fact remains that the gospel has always thrived the most amidst persecution.
Tribulation, not prosperity is the seed of the Hope that does not disappoint. Rom 5:3-5
Suffering is part of God’s plan.
Keep in mind I am only sketching things out here. Again, we know in apart and we all see as in a glass darkly. You might see things differently. If so I’m happy, (actually excited) to look at any scripturally base argument that you (not a YouTube video) can provide.
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),.then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…” Mat 24:15-16
The New Testament was not yet written during the Apostle’s missionary journeys, let alone the book of Revelation. The Book of Daniel was their primary Gospel. Hence Jesus would have expected them to know what He was talking about. The abomination of desolation was in direct reference to Dan 9:27, Dan 11:31,and especially Dan 12:11-12.
For those who love deep dives,
Dan 12:11-12 gives and the exact timeline for when the Tribulation will begin and end. Contrary to popular belief, Mat 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” is not a broadly stated principle implying that Jesus could come at any time. It specifically refers to the period between the end of the tribulation and the Dan 7 appearance of Jesus. As for the tribulation itself, do the math. 1290+1335 = 2625×365 = 7.2 years. That is where we get the 7-year timeline for the tribulation.
– Suffice it to say that at some point the daily sacrifice will be taken away and the abomination of desolation set up. Dan 12:11 sets this time period at 1290 days or 3.5 years which according to my model would be the midpoint of the Tribulation. Those claiming that the A of D took place in Jesus’s day or the Dome of the Rock was it must ignore the context of Dan 12:11-12. The Dome construction was a six-year project completed in 691 AD. The daily sacrifice was taken away in 70AD. Even if we interpret a day as a year that leaves us with 621, not 1290. The only way the math works is if we take the week in Dan 9:27 to mean 7 years and “days” in Dan 12:11-12 as literal days. The only other option is that we are nowhere even close to the end and none of what I am saying matters. However, if I am correct, the daily burnt offering will be re-implemented. It is alsoworth noting that Rabbinic law requires that the sacrifice be performed on the Temple Mount but not necessarily in the temple itself. At the very least a third altar needs to be constructed. It has. In fact, we saw a portable altar ready to be towed into place when we were in Israel. The problem is that Temple Mount is home to the Dome of the Rock which is a Muslim Mosque. Jews are forbidden to worship there even though it sits in the center of Jerusalem and the entire area is under the control of the Jordanians.
Enter Donald Trump
Perhaps you heard of the Abraham Accords whereby President Trump brokered a deal that resulted in formerly hostile Arab Muslim nations making peace with Israel to include a realignment of powers that looks a lot like the Kings of the North and South in Eze 38. (More on that later provided there is enough interest as this is already becoming a sermon outline.)
Perhaps more importantly, Saudi Arabia is now Israel’s ally and Jordan no longer has exclusive control over the Temple Mount. Saudi Arabia is the site of Mecca to which Muslims are expected to make at least one Hajj (pilgrimage) in their lifetime. Therefore, in my opinion, the Temple Mount may be much less of a concern to them.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has expressed concern over rumors that the Dome of the Rock will soon be replaced by a 3rd Jewish Temple. Of course, the Jewish Sanhedrin has been negotiating behind the scenes for years and preparing to begin construction within just days of receiving permission to return to the Temple Mount. Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in full support of this effort.
My point here is that I am viewing world events through the lens of scripture. The next event that believers should be watching for is not a miraculous restoration of traditional American values, as comforting as that would be, but the return of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount and the re-institution of the Daily sacrifice.
At some point after that, the Anti-Christ who according to Ezekiel comes from Gog, which is somewhere in the area of present-day Northern Syria and Southern Turkey will be revealed. He will be identified by the false peace in Dan 9 followed by the end of the daily sacrifice and the abomination of desolation. We can only speculate what that might be. Still, the back-to-back adjectives “abominable” and “desolate” imply that it will be pretty clear when it happens.
These two events mark the point where we can begin the 7-year count down.
What follows in Mat 24:16-28 pertains to details and instructions for Israel during the Tribulation particularly in reference to Jer 30 and what is commonly known as The Time of Jacob’s Trouble. This will be the final and most severe chastisement of Israel such that if those days were not shortened no flesh would survive out of which the biblical, as opposed to the current self-appointed Remnant believers will emerge.
Mat 24:29-31 describes the return of Jesus and what many call the Rapture. This is in direct reference to Dan 7:13-14. Entire volumes have been written on this chapter in Daniel but suffice it to say that The Son of Man in Daniel is the Son of Man to which Jesus referred to Himself at least 78 times. It was His primary identity, declaration of His deity, and the main reason why the Jewish leaders wanted Him dead.
Mat 24:32-51 and Mat 25 provide more details regarding our preparation and response in parable form. They are not separate events.
You may have noticed that I didn’t say a whole lot about the Book of Revelation here. The reason is simple. It is the hardest to understand and characterized by the most insane and twisted interpretations of any book in the Bible. Hence a majority of eschatologically minded believers tend to be more concerned with avoiding the Mark of the Beast, than provoking the Jewish people to jealousy. The Book of Revelation is impossible to understand without a firm grasp of Old Testament end times prophecy. Don’t even think about delving into Revelation without first understanding Daniel, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Joel, and Ezekiel for starters.
Finally, a correct understanding of eschatology is a fantastic evangelistic tool. Most people don’t want to hear they are sinners. Almost everyone is interested in the End Times. That opens the door to the full Gospel message especially as we witness the fulfillment of end times prophecy. A correct understanding of eschatology could also potentially determine whether a believer ends up in Heaven or Hell. For example, I often wonder what might cause a great 2 Thes 2 falling away that would correspond with the man of perdition (the anti-Christ) being revealed? What better cause could there be than a reported 71% of believers who currently adhere to a pre-tribulation rapture view suddenly, finding themselves left behind? What about those with a post-millennial view committed to transforming the culture and “making earth great again” so Jesus can return? What happens when everything they believed in and worked for is shaken and burned up and they face imprisonment and death?
And you thought crushed MAGA dreams were bad?
Listen maybe I am completely wrong and the faithful will get a cloud ticket out of the tribulation? What do I know? After all, I’m only studying, not prophesying. In that case, great! Apart from the last 16 years of being married to the most wonderful wife beyond anything I ever could have imagined, the majority of my time on earth has been brutal, full of tragedy, and heartbreaking. Maybe suffering is too much of a norm for me. Or maybe I have a partial understanding of what Paul meant when he said,
Perhaps I would be more confused if I didn’t understand the deconstructive nature of the world view in which we are immersed. I do. I nearly succumbed to its current form when personal responsibility and resilience seemed beyond my grasp and I yearned for a scapegoat.
This world view goes by many aliases and has its own contemporary vocabulary yet it is anything but new. Its author is offense. Rebellions are its children.
Individuality is diluted via the assignment of a group designation. These designations usually end in “ist”,” ism”, “i” “an” um”, and “phobic”. “Er,” and “al” while less malignant are common too. Disagreement on any grounds always results in objectification and categorization for the purpose of immediate or future cancellation. Those who disagree are viewed as assailants with whom every discussion is a fight. Conformity to the consensus regarding justice is love. Those deemed unloving are identified and vilified. These are the haters who must be nullified and destroyed. Pseudo intellectual mockery is the first line of attack then ad hominem assassination and censorship. Truth is subjective and the end always justifies the means. “Crybullying” and “lawfare” are the last resort before mob violence and murder.
This worldview has and does reshape culture such that identity becomes rooted in the fear of man and validation from peers instead of God and honoring the Imago Dei. Individual core beliefs, actions, accomplishments, and contributions to society are irrelevant especially if one’s ancestors ever thought or behaved in a way that opposes the current consensus. Truth requires they be erased from the annals of history. Loving people never oppose truth.
Personal validation is synonymous with social capital. Social capital is required to become an influencer. Influencers have power. Power is established by the number of “intersectional” victim groups to which one can claim membership and or one’s demonstrated participation in the oppression of oppressors. “Oppressor” is anyone who questions the group consensus. The consensus is established by those with power.
Allies a.ka. “good people” are those who demonstrate their conformity through repeated virtue signaling to peers and to those with power. This is the deepest expression of the aforementioned love. Moral, mental, and emotional atrophy is its fruit. Cultural decay and collapse soon follows. Historically speaking there have always been stronger, more resilient, and often a more violent cultures that seize the opportunity to rape, pillage, and plunder the remaining moral rot and weakness. Every ethnos, ideology, and culture has eventually succumbed to it.
Hence Isaiah wrote and Paul quoted,
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
While I am certain that many will identify a particular person or group to which the above applies, every last one of us is complicit in our own demise. Therefore don’t look at your neighbor or the one whom you so despise.
Look in the mirror and take the plank out of your eye.
Maybe bear this in mind as the coming days and years unfold and any sense of personal autonomy and power erodes. The grace of God is available to all. Yet it is based on His conditions, not ours. And while many will cry “no fair!” and “foul!”, God judges nations. Not to punish or condemn the individuals within. That day will come soon enough. It will be the day of the Lord. God judges nations to bring nations to their knees. He lets them remain until a collective cry is heard.
“Oh, what a wretched people we are! Who will save us from this body of death?”
The likely duration of the devastation in Honduras is just starting to sink in following our outreach last week. The sense of powerlessness we felt as we passed miles and miles of tarp cities along the way is hard to describe.
Meanwhile, Josh fell hard off a ladder and injured his shoulder. His arm is in a sling. If that weren’t enough our ministry vehicle has big issues and
We are grounded for a few weeks.
What to do, what to do?…
I know. How about we catch up on the news.
As usual, our world is in turmoil over worldviews and politics. As always there are many on both sides of the political sewer stream who believe they know the truth. Yet apart from hands on daily experience the only thing any of us really know for sure is the content of what we have been told or shown via some form of media. Like it or not most of what we consume only skews reality. As a media creator myself I know that some of that skewing is inevitable. Some is by design.
Inevitable causes result from the emphasis being determined by the creator. If you watch one of my videos you inevitably see what impacts me. I want you to see and feel what I see and feel. That’s why I’m creating it. The greater my passion the more my own biases pass through the lens of your perception, world view, and life experience. You then draw your own conclusions and pass them onto others. The process goes on ad Infinitum.
On some level, every media consumer becomes a co-errant creator.
Skewing by design is intentional and may be used to honor or dishonor the subject.
Anyone who has been interviewed by me knows that I cut errors. Any hesitation, confusion, cussing, stuttering, or farting is removed such that even the most awkward and nervous subject looks like a seamless orator. I do this both for the sake of time and honor. The dark side of this is that people can be made to say things they never said. All it takes is a simple switching of camera angles and adding b-roll to cover spliced clips. For example, I could ask you what you thought about cockroaches in one question and what you think about puppies in the next then splice the answer to the first question onto the second and walla! You have been transformed from a clean person into a genocidal puppy killer.
Yes, it’s really that easy.
Viewing is skewing
The diminishing attention span and patience of viewers as well as the accelerated speed at which people scroll through SM messages requires videos to be shorter and shorter. Advertisers know they have no more than 5-15 seconds to hook you or you will scroll through their message on your device. That’s why they allow you the “Skip Ad” option. As a result, billions of people make instant and completely subjective decisions regarding truth and the nature of reality everyday based on media titles and headlines like “Trump Invokes Insurection Act” alone.
You don’t have the wisest serpent in the den to discern where this might lead.
What is True?
Four years ago on New Year’s Eve, we were en-route back to Kauai from Africa where we had attended the Iris Global Harvest School of Missions.
Africa was paradigm-shifting, to say the least. We saw what it means to really lay it all down for the sake of the gospel. We learned that while miracles and projects happen and doctrinal differences always arise, mission work a.k.a. Christianity begins and ends with intimacy with God and stopping for the one in front of you.
Thankfully it wasn’t until we returned that we heard the myriad controversies regarding Heidi Baker. Like any famous person she is enshrined by some and bedeviled by others. Suffice it to say that anyone who has not personally encountered her on the mission field should stop talking.
The same applies to Christians talking about anyone’s character whom we only know via the media. As it turns out I have been duped too. Allow me to be the first to repent of this.
The entire body of Christ is comprised of fallen, cracked pots.
How easy it is to forget the brokenness that drew us to Christ in the first place. Still, the body of Christ has had challenges with discerning and holding onto truth from the start. One minute the Corinthians are on fire for the gospel. Then getting rebuked for sexual immorality in next. 1 Cor 5 On a good day we prophecy in part, know in part, and see in a glass darkly. Therefore everything we do must be grounded in a love for one another that we model before others. John 13:35 Otherwise we become loud dystopic clangs in an already dying world. 1 Cor 13:1
There’s a lot of clanging today
I don’t know about you but I can be pretty fiery. It doesn’t take a whole lot of media viewing to stoke my stupidity and expose my deficits in this area.
Part of the problem is that our society has become an ocean of normalized narcissism where personal opinions and significance have become idols and are monetized by Social Media. Yup being angry at someone because they disagree with the ALMIGHTY ME is narcissistic. Calling for revolution or civil war is psychotic. It may be coming soon thanks to the new religion of
Self-aggrandizement and maligning others in the temple of the smartphone.
“The Social Dilemma” is an absolute must for anyone who has ever asked questions like “How could anyone believe the Marxist driven Portland riots were a peaceful protest” or “How could any Christian support a Nazi white supremacist homophobic rapist like Donald Trump?”
The answer is scarier than you might imagine.
About two years ago I wrote Truth or Trump where I discussed what I learned during my old Forex trading days regarding how media manipulates markets and political narratives for profit. I concluded that political rage is destroying the witness of Christians. In the Anatomy of Deception, I covered the economic theory of Reflexivity and what George Soros termed the Fertile Fallacy and the Manipulative Function by which he determines reality. These also drive markets, public opinion, and behavior. That all of the aforementioned entities are working together to reform humanity in the forge of social media is- well… terrifying.
“The Social Dilemma” was a proverbial capstone.
God and Government – Fear Not
While there are all sorts of typological analogies that can be drawn from the Old Testament regarding kings and kingdoms, it is God who establishes both in accordance with His disposition toward nations. Our God-given rights can only be revoked by Him.
Hence He established both Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus.
Those who assume God didn’t establish Joe Biden and stand ready to redo 1776 should consider the almost prophetic words of John Adams in a letter to the Massachusetts Militia on October 11, 1798.
“We shall have the Strongest Reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the People of America, once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practicing iniquity and extravagance; and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor frankness & sincerity while it is rioting in rapine and insolence: this Country will be the most miserable habitation in the World. Because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition revenge or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
The operative question here is; do the words, “moral and religious people” describe our nation today?
If that gets you thinking then you might be ready to read The Killing of Uncle Sam. Whatever you might think of Dr. Rodney Howard Brown’s controversial theology, he is writing as a historian. It definitely lends perspective to the words “turn from their wicked ways” in 2 Chron 7:14
“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
The bibliography alone is worth twice the price of his book.
Many of problems we face today are largely a result of our nation’s collective obsession with Netflix and sports instead of history, civics, and sound Bible exegesis. That two generations increasingly view what amounts to neo-Marxism as compassionate Biblically sound doctrine is a reaping of what we have sown.
Today we are in a very precarious position.
Everyone is being gaslit.
Everyone needs to question their epistemology.
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s … thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.” – Mark Twain –
Our desire for and self-proclaimed God-ordained entitlement to justice comfort and prosperity is the source of our undoing. That’s the round about way of saying, “mammon kills!” Those are hard words but Jesus had hard words for those who should have known better. They are preserved for our edification. He and the apostles preached and modeled a message of total surrender of everything but the gospel. In the end, none but Judas backed down. All were beaten and killed for preaching it.
They did so amidst the following political climate and under rulers whom they never once opposed on political grounds.
Herod Antipas imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist in 28AD for criticizing his marriage.
In 37AD well known Caligula embarked on a reign of terror which included the execution of James and the imprisonment of Peter from which he miraculously escaped.
He was succeeded in 41AD by Claudius, who expelled all the Jews from Rome.
62 AD saw Nero who blamed/set up Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in 64AD. He is best known for burning Christians as human candles and sending them to their deaths in the amphitheater. Both Paul and Peter were executed by Nero in 66AD. Nero committed suicide in 68AD and was succeeded by Vespasian, 69AD.
Titus destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD. He died in 81AD and was succeeded by his younger brother Domitian.
Domitian continued to persecute Christians because they wouldn’t worship the Roman gods or sacrifice to the Emperor. He exiled the apostle John to the island of Patmos in 89AD
The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount define our rights.
Here are some more hard words.
The gospel is not a call to political change, comfort, prosperity or even justice in this life. The Gospel is a call to die.
There is a poignant scene in the passion of the Christ where Mary is seen clutching fists full of the earth as her son is being nailed to the cross. She rises from her knees in conjunction with the soldiers pulling the cross into its vertical position then opens her fists to release the earth as the cross drops into the supporting hole. No one including the disciples understood what was happening until after the resurrection. The very act that brought eternal hope to the world emptied all of them of any hope they had in it.
All of us must get to this point.
Cathy and I often wonder how we and others would react to the crucifixion of our King if it happened today.
I suspect many would be calling for revolution and civil war.
As for us our heart and our hill are best described in the words Cathy recently wrote to a friend.
“Bringing Hope in a dying world is our heart cry. That Hope on a starving person’s death bed is longer lasting than any hot meal. Of course, a hot meal is good and important too. But knowing that when they leave this world, even if they are all alone, that Jesus’ arms are open and, ready to receive them into eternity with Him is all that will matter then. That said, our prayer request is that this message of Hope will cross the language barriers, that Holy Spirit is active and Jesus is glorified. That we will continue to hear and be obedient to God’s leading and that
His will be done!”
Now might be a good time to pause from climbing the summit of success and define the hill upon which you are willing to die.