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 photohrapher and the one who always stops for the one. We are easy to contact just message us here. God bless!
One thing that blocks knowledge and understanding is the narcissistic tendency among fallen humans to interpret the bible as being about them personally. While it most definitely was written for us, it was not written to, or about us. That can be a hard sell in the church of the eternal self.
Luke 15 contains three parables, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. People tend to view each parable separately and then make all sorts of inferences, usually about themselves. Contemporary culture and songs like Reckless Love that glorify our self-assigned, inherent value in God’s eyes along with its adoption as a false biblical justification for social uprisings have made the parable of the Lost Sheep a recent favorite.
The cross is the only complete and genuine example of reckless love and it serves as proof that absolutely all lives matter to God. However, Luke 15 is not about individual significance or social justice.
In the parable of the lost sheep, the Shepard loses one out of ninety-nine sheep which amounts to one percent of his wealth. In the parable of the lost coin, the woman loses ten percent. Jesus clarifies that the lost sheep and the found coin both represent a sinner who repents, over whom Heaven rejoices. The earthly value is irrelevant as God rejoices equally over one percent as He does over ten.
In the parable of the prodigal son the father loses fifty percent of his wealth. In this case, his lazy, impatient, obstinate, disrespectful, ungrateful, and entitled son gets in his face and demands to receive what he deserves before his father dies. Long story short, his eventual repentance is the fruit of his receiving exactly what he deserves.
The point of all three parables is found in the character of the eldest son who sees himself as righteous and good and therefore more deserving of a fatted calf than his brother. The petty and carnally minded elder brother has zero understanding of his father’s heart let alone what is valuable. His twisted perception of righteousness is nothing more than the fruit of his own narcissism.
Luke 15 is a declaration and celebration of the value and importance of repentance. Viewing ourselves, as lost sheep, lost coins, or prodigal sons amidst our salvation and abundant blessings for which we all tend to be ungrateful at times only confirms our true condition as spoiled, self-righteous, and entitled children.
As for those who view the Parable of the Lost Sheep as representing an oppressed people group on whose behalf, they are divinely appointed to advocate and thereby cast themselves in the role of Shepard or Messiah; these are among the lost sheep whose repentance God desires. Of course, narcissism is blinding and Jesus warned there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing.
It would behoove all of us and especially those consumed with God’s love for themselves and those obsessed with social justice to remember that we are all born deserving absolutely nothing but death, and eternal torment in Hell. Our purpose on earth is to become righteous. Our only righteousness is the righteousness of Christ. Romans 3 Our only hope is in Christ and Him Crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 And while justice is getting what one deserves, and mercy is not getting it; grace means getting what we do not deserve.
Our receiving it is contingent upon our recognition of our true condition.
Traditionally it was offensive for a Jew to eat with a Gentile. In Galatians 2 Paul publicly rebukes Peter for his spineless hypocrisy and what amounted to politically correct conformity when he rejected the gentiles with whom he had previously eaten and taught to eat with some Jews who came on the scene. Of course, cowardice was Peter’s primary character defect. In this case, the resulting error was in his reversion to man’s terms rather than God’s. Cowardice caused his desire to please man to exceed his willingness to obey God.
People often dismiss us as harmless quacks when we tell them God loves them or ask if they need prayer. Some may quietly despise us. Yet most will not expend the energy to actually abuse us.
People love to be told how lovable they are. It is easy and even enjoyable to explain that God loved them so much that He gave us His only son so we could live eternally in heaven with Him. John 3:16 Explaining that they are actually His enemies until we are reconciled to Him Rom 5:10, that this reconciliation only happens according to His terms, not ours and that it doesn’t matter how good we are as compared to others Luke 13:1-5 is an entirely different matter.
The popular idea that the only requirement for salvation is our acceptance of Jesus into our hearts is an example of man’s terms.
Accepting that we are His enemies bound for hell and who need to be accepted by Him are God’s terms. While the statement that “God loves the sinner and hates the sin” is true. Nevertheless, it is our chosen disposition toward sin that determines our disposition in eternity.
God’s terms are that we change our thinking and behavior. Rom 12:1-2. Our hearts (emotions) can never be trusted. Jer 17:9 Therefore we need God’s word to guide us 1 Tim 3:15-17 in order to discern true from false. 2 Tim 2:15.
The idea that every human being is inherently evil rather than good and therefore eternally damned makes people angry. That Jesus is the only way of escape and that escape is conditional makes them homicidal.
In Acts 14 Paul is stoned by Jews who had pursued him from Antioch to Lystra. Believing him to be dead they dragged his body outside the city gates. Naturally, the disciples gathered around him, probably to mourn. Then Paul gets up, dusts himself off, and goes back into the city to pick up where he left off.
It is always easier and more pleasing to others when we are nice. It is easy to be loving when people are nice.
At the end of the day there is no love apart from Truth.
We were with South Sudanese Refugees in the Rhino Refugee camp in Northern Uganda when our team was asked to address leaders from multiple tribes several of whom had previously fought one another in the ongoing civil war. Unity was the theme. We were all assigned a time slot in which to teach. I felt completely inept and I don’t remember anything said by our team only one South Sudanese leader, a former child soldier and “Lost Boy” who stood up at the end and proclaimed,
“There is no good tribe! There are no good people!There is only one who is good! That one is Jesus!” He went on to say, “We must forgive. We must turn the other cheek. We must love our enemy!”
After praying with a woman whose child had just died Cathy asked the man with whom she was walking. “How do you cope with all this pain?”“We have nothing…” He smiled as he continued,
“…but we have Jesus!”
These doctors, nurses, lawyers engineers, teachers, professors, and preachers in the camp never imagined they’d end up living in the dust with their children in scorching heat without food or water for days at a time. They never imagined that at least one of their children would die every day due to starvation or a lack of medical care. Now they understood the futility of human resolutions and justice. Now they were on fire for God in the spirit of 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.”
I can not even describe how much we loved these people.
If there is any other place we would most like to serve as missionaries it would be there in the dust with Jesus.
I recently wrote a blog about the Fourth Turning by two historians who observed an Ecclesiastes 1:9 and Chapter 3 cycle in American history. They identified a pattern where a new era, a season, or “Turning” emerges every 20 -25 years. Four turns or seasons amount to a Saeculum or the length of a long lifetime. If you are unfamiliar with the Fourth Turning you can get the breakdown here Character.
Here are a few highlights.
“Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.”
“…The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule…”
“ …Through much of the Third Turning, we have managed to postpone the reckoning. But history warns that we can’t defer it beyond the next bend in time…”
The Reckoning is Here
We were in the beginning stages of the Corona crisis when I said I believed we are in another 4th Turn Crisis that will ultimately culminate in another 1st Turn High.
I want to scream every time I read things like the over 74 people shot one of whom was a 5-year-old in Chicago on, and immediately following Memorial Day weekend. What happened to George Floyd was dead wrong. But where is the logic? Where is BLM when scores of black people are being killed by black people in inner cities every day?!
Why do black lives only matter when a white person takes a black life?
I don’t see how we move forward without first identifying the truth regarding all the bogus agendas. Lately, I’ve been battling a temptation to make another appeal to critical thinking on social media. I wrote about cognitive dissonance in The Devil Went Down to Georgia. The problem is that the agendas of man are at the center of everything and emotion in King. Suffice it to say that given the reactions I received, things probably would not have gone well for me if I were saying all this in the street. Luckily I am safe in Honduras. How’s that for irony?
the problme is that too many refuse to see, hear, and be confronted with facts.
Either you agree and “virtue signal” your approval or you are regarded as the enemy.
I was living on my own by the age of 14. I understand the temptation to hate, to succumb to fear, and the trauma that arises out of violence. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint and beaten down by a mob. I’ve had my nose broken, jaw broken and my neck fractured. As a young adult, I lived in a neighborhood full of crack houses and nightly gunfire. My ex-wife was raped by a gang of black men and our house was burned to the ground. The difference is that I never once blamed it on the perpetrators being black. Instead, I blamed it on crack!
Besides, most people said we deserved it. After all, I was a drunk and my ex-wife was a heroin addict.
My healing came years later when I surrendered to Jesus, repented before God and forgave man.
Now I’m supposed to get on my knees and repent to man for being created white?!
Then the Lord spoke to my heart.
This is exactly what the enemy wants; everyone acting like donkeys instead of horses. When threatened, donkeys look outward to focus on an enemy and then proceed to kick each other. Horses look inward and do the opposite.
I’ll let you decide which one applies.
Like a lot of people I was getting sucked into a world over which I have no control, and of which I am not supposed to be a part.
Even so, I am human and it can hard to avoid. That’s why God gave us His Word. I don’t know about you but Cathy and I are in a season of Sola Scriptura because
sound doctrine is being sacrificed on an altar of secular humanism masquerading as love and Holy Spirit.
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.Mat 24:4-5
It seems like this fits the definition of a contemporary secular social justice warrior, more than some poor nut job claiming to be God.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”Mat 24:6-8
Ethnos is the Greek word for nation.
Ethnos means people group. It is the word from which we derive the English word ethnicity.
For Ethnos will rise against Ethnos
And there will be famines, pestilences…
Global deaths due to hunger are predicted to double this year thanks to “wars and rumors of wars“, and ongoing pestilences like Ebola, COVID, and locusts in Africa and Eurasia to name a few.
and earthquakes in various places.
According to the NOAA and the National Disaster Database there has been a 400% percent increase in yearly natural disasters since 1970.
As for the character of people; Paul nailed it again.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves,
lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” 2 Timothy 3:1-9
Furthermore, Jesus warned us to avoid the leaven of Herod which is the politicization of a spiritual issue.Mk 8:15
There is a whole lot of rebellion and Herodic leavening going on today.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”2 Tim 4:3
There is a famine of sound doctrine.
To paraphrase a comment on a recent blog that I read,
“The problem started when we stopped teaching our children right from wrong and began discussing it instead”
Today there are growing numbers of Christians who pursue Jesus but seek identity in everything but Him. There is lip service to the Word. But individual actions demonstrate an identity and faith more rooted in worldly things like psychology, the enneagram, and postmodern political solutions to spiritual problems. There is a celebration of God’s power when He heals a headache, but a deference to the world’s methods the moment God doesn’t come through as expected. There is a cherry-picking of scripture to fit an unbiblical narrative supporting a path to justice in a Postmillennial kingdom of heaven on earth. Most are sincere and not even aware that they are in error. Still, others are blinded by resentment and pride. This latter group is growing fast.
The error is rooted in an interpretation of reality according to experience instead of experiences according to the Word of God.
Jesus has become a social justice warrior within instead of the substitutionary, propitiation for sin. This movement is obsessed with worldly justice. As a result, it has become a friend of the world James 4:1-4 in unwitting opposition to the scheduled fulfillment of biblical prophecy regarding God’s redemption of man and the reestablishment of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Its priests and prophets are the likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. The media is their pulpit and smartphones their sanctuary. It is fraught with anxiety, and a false understanding of John 13:35Koinonia. This movement emphasizes fellowship with the body at the expense of Truth. It pursues consensus, comfort, and validation in lieu of conviction. It’s adherents expect to be seen, heard, and pursued. Questioning them is regarded as harsh, intolerant and unloving, sexist, or racist. While the outward compassion of this group may manifest “a form of godliness, it denies its power”. 2 Tim 3:5 The growing Deconstructionist movement and the subsequent abandonment of the faith by so many should be no surprise as self-centered, worldly expectations of a narcissistic generation become impossible for a headless body to fulfill.
Paul was clear that this must happen as well.
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first…” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
As for the current chapter in the ethnos versus ethnos conflict…
Even TD Jakes recently admitted “we are in the last days” and said “this is not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.”
He also said, “We need truth”.
We do need truth.
“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 Greek word for ACCUSER in this verse is katēgoréō. It is the word from which we get the English word
Satan literally categorizes us before our God day and night.
His minions in the media and the streets are doing the same.
Black and White are categories.
They are not identities.
Not Godly ones anyway.
If you are really a Christian then your identity is in Christ. Eph 2:4-6
The job of those in Christ is to preach the Gospel to every Ethnos and invite them in.
Judgment and the sword of justice will come with Jesus when He returns. And for the record, Isaiah 61 isn’t talking about narcissistic Christians anointed to bring forth justice on their own.
Its a prophecy about the anointing and justice of Jesus.
In the meantime…
It doesn’t matter if its the cop who killed George Floyd, George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery, or the father and son who killed him. It doesn’t matter if its an abusive black cop, white cop, Hispanic cop, Asian cop, or a BLM member shooting at cops in the streets. It could be a SJW repenting for white privilege, the thug beating up the SJW, or the Antifa methhead throwing Molotov cocktails at SJWs in a suburb. They could be looting a home or defending a store. Jesus said we will all spend eternity in hell unless we repent to God.
“Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:1-5
The desire to repent and power to forgive is a true sign and wonder that follows the preaching of the Gospel.
All our empathy, virtue signaling, inner healing, and understanding of enneagrams isn’t going to change a thing. All the repentance for being created white won’t help either. It just perpetuates a false worldly narrative. All the protesting and demands for reparations, all the secular counseling, committees, political parties, and political solutions in the world will never bring an end to racism and true social justice to fruition. That’s because secular justice is of the world and according to the flesh.
In case you didn’t know or forgot, it was the myth of Jewishprivilege that justified the Holocaust in the minds of German Nazis.
Secular justice simply tips the scales in the opposite direction.
Biblical justice is the ministry of reconciliation.
Reconciliation is not appeasement.
“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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”2 Cor 5:11-21
One thing is certain. God is no respecter of individual differences or the ways in which we categorize each other. His only categories are those who love Him and obey His commandments versus those who don’t. Acts 10:34-35
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
As for us, we are on our knees with broken hearts. This is a season of Lamentation. We need to learn to sit in the dust and lament instead of taking to the streets in protest, to pursue the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified so that we may do our best, incompetent as we are, to disciple the Ethnos God puts in our path. Mat 28:19
Even so, the only prayer we seem to be able to pray is
Like a lot of people, we are locked down in our house in Honduras. We are allowed out one day per week to buy groceries based on the last digit on our ID card. There’s time for anyone who thinks they can buck the system.
At the time of this writing, there are over 400 cases of COVID and 32 deaths. The rate of infection was progressing geometrically at first but has since slowed and appears to be restricted to three or four municipalities.
The US State Department keeps us updated with daily “get out while you can” emails announcing what might be the last charter flight out of Honduras.
A fair number of missionaries have taken the warning seriously and returned to the USA. Meanwhile, there is a rumor circulating that the lock-down may be ending on the 20th.
Like a lot of people, we’ve tried to piece together truth regarding COVID. Unfortunately, it’s hard to engage in a discussion without people getting offended. We’ve intentionally remained centric in accordance with Acts 10:34-35, regarding political and personality cult wars. That hasn’t stopped some people from name-calling, blowing up and even blocking us on Facebook. I could be wrong but the apparent inability to think critically and engage in civil debate is our greatest risk factor as a nation. It’s only gotten worse since I last actively engaged in discussions on social media.
My most recent conclusion on COVID: it’s a lot crazier than we imagine.
Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand for me against those who practice iniquity? Psalm 94:16
Speaking of critical thinking, not every Honduran believes that COVID is real. Many believe that it is an invention of their president to get money. The result is “Tomas” which means blocking roads with burning tires and throwing rocks at police. Life is hard here. While most people in the USA live paycheck to paycheck, most Hondurans live day to day. The good news is that some Honduran police take a slightly different approach to their jobs than what you might expect.
These are interesting times. Lots of people are praying that God restores life back to normal. Lots of people forget that God’s mercy sometimes looks like judgment in the eyes of man. One thing is certain, He is in control. Proverbial monkey wrenches don’t get thrown into the gears of our goals apart from His will and Satan can’t sift us without His permission.
Speaking of Satan our friend Chad McGinnis made a good point about him on Facebook.
“The tree took it’s slow sweet time to do this, and 20 feet up and a few years later, you’re trapped. The devil will too, he will simply eat at you until you are devoured. Seek Godly truth. Subject your thoughts to Christ, don’t let fear in. Take time to find God in the smallest things.”
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15.
We’d best appreciate what have today. Tomorrow is not promised.
Right now, apart from helping an occasional passing neighbor ( his name is Feliz) with his firewood and mule, missions and ministry look like stillness and finding God in the smallest things.
Cathy is good at capturing the little things.
All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Selah Psalm 66:4
We are locked down in Honduras as I write. COVID cases have begun to double on a daily basis. The borders and airports are closed. No one can come in or go out. There’s a 6 month to 2-year jail sentence awaiting anyone who violates a curfew. Hondurans in our little community are obedient and calm. They are familiar with crises. Two older American friends in another part of the country are locked down too. He is a retired architect and has had a series of strokes. His wife is left to cope with his rapidly deteriorating condition by herself. They don’t have COVID but COVID is placing his life in jeopardy.
Meanwhile there are about two hundred North Americans, most of whom are short term missionaries stranded here. Several of them are demanding their rights and that the US State Dept does something to evacuate them. We strongly encouraged people to postpone their trips weeks before COVID first reared its head. Unfortunately confirmation bias reigned supreme. I guess their plans, ministry and mission were too important. I can empathize. I remember thinking and feeling the same way as a short-term missionary myself.
Howe and Strauss are Historians and social scientists who observed an Ecclesiastes 3 cycle in American history that shows a new era, a season or “Turning” every 20 -25 years. Four turns or seasons amount to a Saeculum or the length of a long lifetime. In simplest terms, the most recent “First Turning” 1945 -65 was the “High” and could be likened to a honeymoon period. It was marked by the end of WWII and the birth to the American dream. Families were strengthened as were social institutions like schools, local governments and church. Individual roles both inside and outside the family were clearly defined.
The “Second Turning”, 1965-85, the “Awakening”, was a period of questioning all those things. It was a time of spiritual upheaval, when the old order came under attack. It was marked by things like the birth of ERA, the Vietnam war and the subsequent student lead peace movements, the Water Gate Trial and Impeachment of Richard Nixon. Basically, every social institution was challenged.
The “Third Turning”, 1985-2005, the “Unraveling” was a time when the individual reigned supreme. Punk rock and rap glorified criminality and anti-social behavior, swinging, divorce and open homosexuality became normalized. And culminated with the HIV AIDS epidemic and the destruction of the twin towers in New York. Post Modernism grew to become the dominant world view and continued corruption and government scandals fueled an already growing distrust of nearly all established authority and institutions.
The “Fourth Turning” 2005 -25 is the “Crisis”. We are in the thick of it now.
As Straus and Howe wrote in 1996.
“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire. . .The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.”
“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort — in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”
Howe and Strauss predicted we Americans will be forced to make decisions that mirror the hardest ones made by our predecessors as
“great peril provokes a societal consensus, an ethic of personal sacrifice, and strong institutional order”. “And it will require us to admit that our faith in linear progress has often amounted to a Faustian bargain with our children. Faust always ups the ante, and every bet is double or nothing. Through much of the Third Turning, we have managed to postpone the reckoning. But history warns that we can’t defer it beyond the next bend in time.”
There is always talk of the end of days whenever a major crisis hit. I don’t claim to be a prophet and I certainly don’t know for sure. My own bias is to doubt it. Even so, my wife Cathy made a keen observation the other day. The beginning of sorrows that Jesus spoke about in Mat 24:8-13 translates to “Birth Pangs”. Birth pangs progressively increase in frequency and intensity until the water breaks and the baby is born. If this is the beginning of sorrows it will usher in the millennial reign of Christ. Fourth Turns gradually come to an end and are followed by another High.
In either case if we are to survive in a war time footing, we need to accurately discern the time. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their lack of discernment in Mathew 16:1-4.
“Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
Everything they needed to identify Jesus was already in the scriptures. The problem was that Jesus did not match their interpretation and resulting expectations and Jesus remained hidden in plain view.
A lot of us have the same problem today.
Signs, wonders and spiritual gifts are all the rage these days. Myriad charismatic leaders inspire people to follow in their footsteps. Evangelists, prophets, those with gifts of healing and an angle on prosperity abound. Those with the most dramatic, feel good performances and the biggest followings on social media become heroes of the faith even if their teachings are scripturally unsound. Jesus said,
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26 and “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Mat 24:37 Noah preached repentance and righteousness 2 Pet 2:5 then built an ark in the middle of the desert. He was mocked and rejected as a result. How much more are those who preach the same message in 2 Timothy 3 world rejected?
Cathy just read some headlines as I write.
“Vegas strip club offers drive through peep shows” in response to COVID and “Man beaten to death by mob for having Corona Virus.”
You might be on fire for Jesus. But a quick skim of the daily headlines should be all one needs to discern the times and the message that the world needs.
Discernment drives action
I’ve heard people quote and seen people post Psalm 91 so many times in the past few weeks that everyone including unbelievers should have it memorized by now. Problem is – many receive it as a magic incantation that allows them to fearlessly continue with their lives as if nothing was happening.
A cursory word study quickly reveals that dwelling in secret place of Psalm 91:1 upon which one’s protection is contingent, refers to both the secret place Jesus talked about in Mat 6:6 . It also means a literal “shelter, a hiding place.”
By the way, has anyone stopped to consider that COVID could peak during Passover?
I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
If nothing else this situation is facing us with a very real question. God or mammon?
Many young people are assuming, they are invincible and choosing to party rather than comply with recommendations, warnings and ordinances. We have young friends and relatives who seem utterly oblivious to the crisis at hand.
The keys to surviving a crisis and thriving in the subsequent high lay in how we respond. There were people who jumped to their deaths from high-rises when the market crashed in 1929. Those more prudent made fortunes. The most grievous error we can make is to fail to discern the time. We may assume a Fourth Turn crisis is the end and enter what AIM calls the “Q” (quit) zone. Or we could mistake the crisis for a First Turn high as so many spring breakers are doing now.
“Great peril provokes a societal consensus, an ethic of personal sacrifice, and strong institutional order.” That means a return to First Turn values. People have been praying for and prophesying revival for decades. Yet how soon we forget that revivals begin with radical repentance. More often than not this repentance is preceded by an event that causes people to recognize their spiritual bankruptcy. An event like like the great San Francisco earthquake that preceded the Azuza Street revival in 1915. Yes, Jesus healed and does heal people but His primary reason for coming was to be a propitiation for our sin. He came to rescue us from hell. Miracles and healing look more spectacular to our disbelieving and entertainment hungry eyes. But they are secondary to dealing with our sin. John 1:22 As Ray Comfort says, “God comes to us with a subpoena in one hand and a pardon in the other.” We love to tell people about the loving pardon while avoiding the subpoena all together.
As the current COVID crisis grows, I have yet to hear anyone under the age of 85 preach a message of repentance. There seems to be a correlation between this and the fact that those 80 and older were alive during the previous Fourth Turn. Hope for a nation that has murdered over 61,000,000 babies’ since Roe v Wade, maligned the name of Jesus as a matter of public policy and rejected His substitutionary work on the cross isn’t going to be found in Psalm 91 without embracing 2 Chron 7:14 first.
“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.”
My oldest surviving uncle Lester will be 90 in June. He built his own sugar house and makes his own maple syrup in Ashfield Massachusetts because he needs something to do when it’s too cold to work.
His wife Nancy is a retired biologist with a passion for conservation.
The last time I visited, Aunt Nancy had just chased a mother bear and her cubs away from her beehives on foot. At dinner Lester and I spoke about the last Fourth Turn. Uncle Lester is a retired Navy Vet. His brother fought at Normandy. He doesn’t speak a lot but when he does it behooves people to find the parable. Uncle Lester grew up poor during the Great Depression but says he didn’t know it. He never complains and talked a lot about the value and power of gratitude and community during hard times. Elders in places like Ashfield Mass still work hard and have a lot of character. They are our national treasures.
I recently saw a meme directed at chronic COVID complainers.
If our culture persists in a collective belief that our individual rights reign supreme, that we are somehow owed something and that it’s the government’s job to provide it for free at the expense of other people simply because they have more; then I can assure you that the authoritarian outcome or worse mentioned by Straus and Howe is almost certain.
Instead I found an example of the requisite attitude for success, especially for Christians during a Fourth Turn in Acts 14. During the Apostle Paul’s 1st missionary journey he and Baranabas were kicked out of Antioch. So they traveled 85 miles to preach the Gospel in Iconium. Unbelieving Jews stirred up dissension and tried to beat and stone him. So, Paul and Barnabas moved on to Lystra and Derbe where taught and people were healed. Everyone thought they were Zeus and Hermes and started to worship them. No sooner had they put an end to that craziness then the previous Jews who had followed them from Iconium showed up. This time they were successful in stoning Paul. They dragged what they thought was his dead body outside the city gate and left him there. The disciples gathered around him probably in mourning. But before they could do anything Paul jumped up brushed himself off and went back into the city where;
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22
This May we will have lived in Honduras for three years. We’ve been through our share of crises and we stocked up on beans and rice a few weeks ago in anticipation of what is happening now. The other day we gave some away to a neighbor in need. I’ve been racking my brain as to how we are going to feed people when the food runs out. What will we do if someone gets sick? How will we care for people? Last night some girls from the tiny Catholic church down the road delivered dinner to our door. Being a full-time missionary is teaching me just how unimportant I am.
I don’t know what is happening or is going to happen. If you read my previous blogs, my conclusions regarding COVID remain the same.
Believe what we want “We still don’t know jack.”
What I do know from both God’s Word and my own experienceis that
Jesus did not come to give us our best life now. He came to redeem and transform us.
Everything will be shaken. Only what can’t be shaken will remain. Heb 12:26-28
Who we are and what we do “will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” Only that which is of God will survive. 1Cor 3:12-15
While our eternal hope is definitely in Jesus. Our ability to remain in that hope will be determined by our individual and collective character. Character is produced by perseverance. Tribulation is its catalyst. Rom 5:3-7
Please keep us in prayer. Apart from divine intervention we are in big trouble if COVID gets a hold of us.
If you are receiving this it’s because we love you.
Applying our God-given 2 Tim 1:7 sound mind in COVID-19 World.
So what do you know? What have you heard? You know about this COVID-19 thing… Apart from trusting God; in the natural we could be in a serious pickle if Corona comes to Honduras. I don’t know about you but I’ve never put much faith in mainstream media predominantly owned and controlled by six corporations. Its not I that have a problem with corporations per se. It’s just that the IRS classifies them as individual people. Individual people are biased.
In any case, my wife and I have done some digging amidst the myriad rants we see on social media.
Specifically, we searched for credentialed sources like Dr. James Robb former professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, and one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on corona-viruses. He says,
“The current projections for its expansion in the US are only probable, due to continued insufficient worldwide data, but it is most likely to be widespread in the US by mid to late March and April.”
That seems balanced and realistic. He also provides some very logical steps for prevention in case you are interested. All my sources are hyperlinked so you can dive deeper if you like.
Then again the social unraveling that might take place in an overwhelmingly narcissistic and lawless society could be worse than the effects of the virus itself.
Investors are freaking out about markets and supply chains. Never the less toilet paper manufacturers are making a killing. People in my home state of Hawaii are buying toilet paper in bulk. That is Hawaii’s first reaction to almost any crisis. That said, a run on toilet paper, might be an indication that someone is full of something other than the truth.
But I digress.
Of course, politics is at the top of the narrative. Those who don’t like the current president blame Trump whose legacy is rooted in the economy, accusing him of putting the stock market before the lives of people.
Those who do like him are joining in on the apathy, “it’s all a hoax” argument. Others not so sure its a hoax are concerned that Trump might be gambling his chances of re-election on Corona being nothing to worry about.
I for one, hope he is right.
That said, I’ve been telling people the Global economy is a giant bubble waiting to be pricked since 2007. The Fed has been kicking the proverbial can down the road with rate hikes and rate cuts since 2008. Recent rate cuts basically prove the previous stimulus didn’t work. It occurs to me that a pandemic makes for a perfect cover for an inevitable global economic crash.
But what do i know that’s just my own conspiratorial speculation based on my own bias.
The word “Bias” is key here.
Meanwhile, I see multiple well-intended brothers and sisters in Christ disseminating all kinds of varying numbers, theories and prognostications. Some not old enough to remember Y2K, compare it to Y2K. Others compare it to the Flu, SARs, and MERs. Still others are fearlessly walking in faith.
I remember someone telling us in mission school that there are “two reasons for suffering and being persecuted in the body of Christ. One is for the sake of righteousness and one is for stupidity.”
It’s great to have great faith.
Sometimes denial masquerades as faith.
Anyway, if we put all this info into our proverbial brain blenders we are faced with one undeniable conclusion.
We don’t know Jack!!
We don’t like not knowing Jack so we defer to our preferred logical fallacies. Confirmation bias is the biggest. If you want to know more about how this applies to markets and politics you can check out my blog Truth or Trump.
But here is a basic illustration based on an all too common conversation I had when I counseled middle school kids on drugs.
Me: Studies show that regular marijuana use reduces IQ scores an average of eight points.
Client: “Mr. I researched on the internet and found out you are WRONG! Marijuana makes you smarter!
Hardcore doomsayers are going to listen to Dr. Francis Boyle and say, “I knew it! Time to stock up on toilet paper, lock and load and dig in”
Uber optimists are going to listen to Dr. Drew and say, “Exactly! See? Nothing to worry about. Party on dudes!”
The next logic fallacy through which we filter our world view is the sister of confirmation bias otherwise known as the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy determines the accuracy and validity of information by its source alone. We see this everywhere. Conservatives who don’t believe anything on CNN because it comes from CNN and Liberals who reject everything from FOX because its on FOX. By the way, Adolf Hitler claimed to be a Christian therefore all Christians are Nazis. Right?
Which leads me to…
…the false equivalence fallacy that says if one part is the same then everything is the same. Everyone was freaked out by Y2K and but nothing happened. It only follows that everyone is freaked out about COVID now so nothing is going to happen. Granted the gross annual number of deaths from flu far exceed current deaths from COVID-19. The problem is that we’ve only just begun seeing COVID-19. As for SARs and MERs, the regular flu has an average annual mortality rate of 0.1% and as of Feb 18, 2020, “despite the lower case fatality rate, covid-19 has so far resulted in more deaths (1871) than SARS and MERS combined (1632)” The uber optimist argument doesn’t hold. If you watched Dr. James Weiler’s video posted on Feb 24 the Covid-19 mortality rate was at 2.0%. If 50% of the US population is exposed that means three million people could be dead in a year. On March 4th the WHO stated the mortality rate is now at 3.4% but it should drop. One thing is certain. All four are viruses. Things that apply to the Flu, SARS and MERS do not necessarily correlate with COVID-19. Chances are all the COVID- 19 numbers and information will have changed by time you read this. That’s ok. It’s not my main point.
Incidentally the False equivalency fallacy also drives things like climate change, the gun control narrative on the left and the anti-immigration argument on the right. The truth is, most legal gun owners are not criminals. Most Hispanic immigrants just want an opportunity to work hard and get paid in a day what they make in a month in places like Honduras. As for climate change; no real science is ever settled. That’s partly what makes it science. It’s also why we have so much conflicting info about COVID-19. Unfortunately thinking errors and drive society more than logic. Don’t blame the media. They are just saying what people will listen to.
Incidentally, Adolf Hitler was not a Christian.
Finally, we have the appeal to emotion fallacy. Every advertiser and media outlet knows it’s a nifty tool, whereby people avoid, confuse or otherwise manipulate truth by manipulating the emotions of others. It’s what causes people to confuse feelings with thinking and gets them to buy things they don’t need and invest in sure things that are sure to fail. Physiologically speaking, our higher functioning cerebral cortex where logical thinking and reason takes place is subordinated to the lower more primitive limbic brain, from which our emotions and physical desires pour forth.
Many refer to this as “Coming from the heart”.
Guilt, fear, and outrage are the most popular emotions to which people appeal.
The bio-weapon narrative works great here.
There’s been some talk about ISIS creating the bio-weapon. Looks like the caliphate is more concerned than we are.
Does that mean its not a bio-weapon? Heck no! COVID-19 could be one, all or none of the things I’ve mentioned.
What I know for sure is that I don’t know and neither do you.
Applying our God given sound mind means thinking critically and being honest about our biases, what we know for certain versus what we have been told. It means hearing and trying to see things from another person’s point of view. It means desiring the truth instead of wanting to win. It means clarifying our opinions as opposed to proven facts. It means being willing to be wrong and admitting it when we are. It means seeking the truth not what we want truth to be.
The bible says “love your neighbor as yourself.” Things might get bad as in really really bad. We haven’t faced this level of uncertainty regarding a virus since the Spanish Flu in 1918. We are committing some of the same thinking errors. That said, its not about you or the risk to you. As a Christian it’s about you looking out for others. You might be healthy and relatively unaffected by COVID-19. However, people who are older and or perhaps those with compromised immunity might be made safe or placed at risk by your actions. You might think it’s all hype and that the precautions are stupid. Do you really believe you have the right to make that determination when another person’s life might be the one at risk? Yeah those are hard words. I know.
The apostle Paul said dying is ultimately better than living. Phil 1:21
Jesus said if you try to save your life you will lose it. Mat 16:25
You are not alone. The Bible says a lot of people think Christianity is dumb. 1 Cor 1:18
Yes I know. All Christians are hypocrites. That’s why we need Jesus.
People generally don’t recognize their need of a savior until the reality of their frailty and mortality sets in. Mark 2:17
Jesus said there is only one way and He is it. John 14:6
I realize people don’t like “one way” any more than kids like being told marijuana makes you stupid. It doesn’t matter. Marijuana still makes you stupid.
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation. – Herbert Spencer-
Now might be a good time to really question the eternal viability of your world view and seriously investigate the words and claims of Jesus in greater depth.
If you are a Christian
What are you doing to comfort, exhort, encourage and lead people to the Truth?
Granted we walk by faith and not by sight. Ultimately Christianity is a relationship. However, there is a reasoned response to every assertion that Christianity is silly or false or nothing more than blind faith in fairy tales. Do you have questions? Do you need help providing a logical reason for the 1 Peter 3:15-16 hope that is in you. Submit your questions and comments and subscribe to this blog.
As always, if you are receiving this its because we love you.
If you haven’t heard yet Cathy and I left the City of Refuge and moved to Cerro Azul near our friends Josh and Paulet.
They are more than friends. They are family to us.
Josh is the former mission’s director at the City of Refuge and the president of Hope in Time Ministries. We are coming alongside them to bring the voice of experience and elder-ship to the ministry as well as our usual media support.
If you haven’t seen our intro video to our tiny house rehab project then, by all means, click here.
We are still coaching our AIM GAP year mission squad and recently returned from Guatemala.
They are a pretty resilient and independent group of young adults with a passion for intimacy with God. They are headed to Ecuador as I write where they will have less direct oversight and more independence regarding ministry. We will be encouraging them to be scripturally sound in accordance with a 1 Peter 3:15 apologetic approach as they move forward.
Being in Guatemala again…
allowed us to reconnect with good friends Kevin and Nicole in Santiago. They are like a young Heidi and Rolland Baker as I imagine them. They’ve been through the proverbial wringer this year that included losing the house in which they were doing foster care for young unwed mothers. But they are not giving up and are currently preparing to drive a truck and fifth wheel with their two children from Texas to Guatemala. They will live in the camper in Santiago while they build a home/mission base. Please keep them in prayer.
Thanks to our friend Jason who is a missionary pilot…
…in Guatemala our return trip from Santiago to the airport in Guatemala City was quicker and a whole lot cheaper than the usual shuttle. If you are planning a mission trip to Guatemala City you can contact us. His base has an extremely affordable and comfortable missionary housing that is close to the airport.
As might be expected, people are beginning to ask us why we left IMI.
“OMG. Is there something wrong?” “Is there something we should know?” “Is there a reason why we shouldn’t go to serve there?”
Let me be clear. We love Tom and Teresa. We are not done with the children at the City of Refuge. We have a perfect venue for youth retreats here and they are excited to visit. We’d be visiting more frequently to do church services and discipleship but we don’t have a vehicle to get there. As for anyone wondering…
You should “give”, “go” and “do” according to how God leads you. Period!
That is what we are doing, and we are being led in a different direction. If you’ve watched some of our personal outreach videos, then it should be clear that we’ve had a different philosophy regarding priority and method in missions. That’s ok. No single ministry can do everything. The current direction that IMI is moving in does not match our passion, priority or our skillset.
Hope in Time just received 501c3 status from the IRS. You’ll be able to read more about our vision soon on the Hope in Time blog as we get the ball rolling.
As stated in the video we are in the “forerunning” stages of our mission. That means building relationships. In missions school, we learned the importance of going “low and slow”. That’s hard for me and is Cathy’s passion. Low and slow means not riding in on our proverbial white horses to fix people and things and save the day. Even the most cursory internet research will reveal how many grandiose activities carried out by “first worlders” in the name of good end up bringing more harm than help. We were taught to honor locals as modeled by Jesus when He honored the woman at the well in John 4 when He asked her for a drink before informing her that He was the living water. We are not Jesus and are coming in on equal footing, sometimes less than equal footing as brothers and sisters in need ourselves. The truth is right now we need them more than they need us. This will be the subject of the next Hope in Time blog.
The very first order of business in forerunning is to find the man and or woman of peace. These are the people that God puts in your path to help pave the way to building relationships within the community at large. One sure way to identify them is that they seemingly appear out of nowhere and are knowledgeable about the very things you need most.
Karen was our first. She speaks a fair amount of English and periodically shows up to give impromptu Spanish lessons. God blessed Cathy and I with many gifts. Languages is not one of them. Thank God for people like Karen. Her sister sells eggs and she’s also knowledgeable about local plants. Here she is showing Cathy a natural Honduran sleep aide that comes from a tree outside our house. We don’t really need sleep aides here but its cool info and Karen was excited to show us what was growing just outside our door.
Cathy and I were exploring our new community during a three-hour hike when we ran into our second new friend Alfonso. It just so happens that Alfonso lived in the USA until he was deported 13 years ago. He speaks fluent English and was excited to befriend some North Americans for the first time in years. Hondurans are extremely generous and relational. Alfonso usually stops in to see us a few times per week and brings Yucca or some other vegetables.
Alfonso tried to buy land in Santa Barbra Honduras after he was deported. He paid a certain family for the land then they changed their mind. One of the family members did not want to return his share of the money and tried to murder Alfonso with a machete instead. His hand was cut off, he lost hearing in one ear and sight in one eye. His nose and part of his mouth were almost cut off, his neck was slit and he very nearly died. But Alfonso is a miracle.
He is also resilient. Many people in his shoes would have just given up. But Alfonso recovered and started farming a different piece of land. We visited his farm which is a forty-five-minute walk up a mountain from his house. He keeps the land cleared with a machete. We are in pretty good shape but this walk alone is exhausting. Alfonso has planted hundreds of coffee trees and recently planted 1000 Yuca by himself. Alfonso loves the Lord and while he doesn’t have a church to attend, he is our new disciple and reads two pages in his bible every day. We are working to get him a prosthetic hand. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen before January.
Even so, God is a dot connector.
Alfonso used to care for horses and attend church in Ohio.
As it turns out our good friend Matt Burris who used to pastor in our home church in Hawaii moved back to the mainland. The people Alfonso used to work for are Matt’s current pastors.
Seriously what are the odds?!
We can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store.
Living off base means perfecting the art of shopping in the Sunday street market. It’s something like a farmer’s market in the USA. Another new friend Jenny is a master “marketeer” and even teaches Paulete a thing or two.
Living in the mountains in Honduras also means learning to roast your own coffee Honduran style. Jenny is Cathy’s roasting teacher. It’s safe enough here in Cerro Azul for Cathy to walk the three and a half miles to Jenny’s house by herself. That is not the case in the places we normally do ministry.
Jenny learned the recipe from her mom. The process begins with roasting rice.
Then coffee is added
Then cinnamon and pepper
Then the coffee is ground and bagged.
The whole process takes about four hours.
At this time we are pursuing God, coaching our Gap year racers online, building the website, and developing a scholarship program to help families who can’t afford to send their children to school.
Stay tuned for our upcoming devotional.
In about ten months. I’ve always wondered what my father and grandfather(s) thought about life and God etc.… The older I get the more I wonder and seek out wisdom and wise counsel from elders. There are a couple who are still alive. While our children and grandchildren might still be in the “we don’t give a rip what you think” stage of life. Given our experience, we suspect that will change as they mature and come face to face with the abject fragility and shortness of life on here earth. Tomorrow is not promised and we won’t always be here. So just in case they ever get curious, Cathy and I are writing together. It’s a fun side gig and we want to leave something behind.
Speaking of our DEVOTIONAL
A word on fear…
There is a lot of fear permeating society lately with the advent of things like the Novel Corona Virus. Non specific anxiety and depression are off the charts with our youth. Here is one of our recent devotional entries that seems relevant at this time. We hope it serves as a reminder and brings you peace.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7
When crises come as they inevitably will and do, there are always two extremes; alarmism, and apathy. Alarmists go from crisis to crises and live perpetually in the “wars and rumors of wars” of Mathew 24. Meanwhile those prone to apathy which in the eyes of the world often looks like optimism proclaim, “don’t be so negative!” “…relax, eat, drink, be merry.” Luke 12:19
Neither apathy or alarmism is correct.
Tomorrow is never promised and all our lives are like a vapor. James 4:13-14
As Christians, it doesn’t matter if we live one more day or ten thousand. If we have laid down our lives and picked up our cross then our treasure is laid up in heaven Mat 6:19-21 We have been given a spirit of love and the assurance that allows us to keep God’s priorities and promises at the forefront of our minds. We have the power of Truth and His word. We have been given a sound mind that allows us to remain calm and at peace amidst tribulation – however that may appear. John 14:27. It doesn’t matter if we are on a beach in paradise or under machine gunfire in some dark corner of the world. Our blessed assurance does not change. His attendant peace shouldn’t either. At the end of the day, the only question that matters is, “am I in God’s will?”
Being in God’s will means walking in Truth. It is being in an intimate relationship with Him via Holy Spirit every day. Jesus likened Holy Spirit to oil and believers as lamps. One thing is certain. If you haven’t put oil in your lamp today you’ll end up like the foolish virgins who freaked out in Mat 25:1-13 tomorrow. One thing is certain. All things eventually come to an end. Fear is a sure sign of an oil shortage.
I recently saw a headline that 43% of evangelicals think Donald Trump should be removed from office. We know others who have declared him to be a modern-day Cirrus. I’ve had different opinions at different times but honestly,
I’ve never met the man.
All I know is what I see, hear and read in the media.
I write a blog for the Adventures in Missions GAP year squad that we coach called The Squirrel Pole. A squirrel pole is a survival food trap that I learned about when I was a US Marine.
Its based on the idea that everything in nature naturally takes the path of least resistance. A squirrel is perfectly capable of running straight up a tree. But place branch laden with wire nooses at an angle against the trunk and the stupid squirrel will hang itself every time.
Another squirrel poll upon which people hang themselves is the reliance on others to do their thinking for them.
I used to trade world currencies on the FOREX.
That’s when I learned the world is not the world I had learned about in school. It makes sense. The father of lies is the god of it.
As it turns out the average American’s world view is shaped by a media whose narrative is controlled by six corporations. That’s not just so called “fake news”. That’s all news.
The first thing I learned as a trader was, know your own biases, do your own analysis and emotion is the enemy of analysis.
People are easily manipulated by what is commonly known as confirmation bias. Brokers leverage confirmation bias to take money away from nonprofessional traders who dream of getting rich quick.
They call these nonprofessionals “dumb money”.
This is how it works. The broker begins by “pumping” a stock or other financial instrument through internet and television. They tell everyone why “you’d better hurry before it’s too late because this one is a sure thing!” Dumb money is looking for a sure thing and hearing “it’s a sure thing” confirms what they want to hear. So, dumb money rushes in to buy before the price goes up. Of course, this drives the price up at warp speed. Dumber money tries to jump on the “moving train” and the price goes up faster until it hits a target predetermined by the broker who probably owns the biggest chunk.
When it hits the mark, the broker might short the stock or buy an “option” before closing his original position and collecting the profit. Of course, some of the dumb money sees the price action, panics and sells before they lose everything. That makes the price drop faster and more people jump off the “moving train” and sell to cover their losses. When the price gets low enough the original broker reverses his position and collects the profit from that trade too. This goes on all day every day that markets are open. What is important to understand is that media drama moves markets. While the public separates into tribes, fights with each other over what they believe is the correct moral side of what they think is the real issue; smart money is busy making money.
For example, gun control is always hot button issue pumped by the press. In June 2016 Barack Obama talked about a possible assault weapons ban. The media pumped a false pending executive order narrative. Guess what happened next? Gun lovers panicked. Assault weapons and ammunition sales went through the roof. Smart money made money again.
Confirmation bias makes lying easy. Confirmation bias makes us easy to manipulate.
World leaders have always used it to manipulate populations for their own gain.
Paul Joseph Goebbels was Adolf Hitler’s Minister of propaganda said;
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Know your own confirmation biases.
Otherwise you’re sure to get played.
Why am I telling you all this in a missionary blog?
Adolf Hitler had motto.
“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
There is a huge cultural and spiritual war in progress for the hearts and minds of the generation that many of us refer to as youth. Some of you are youth.
The winner gets to determine “Truth”
Deception is the Devil’s number one game.
And Your emotions are a primary tool in Hell’s efforts to manipulate and control you.
In Mat 22 people were trying to trap Jesus into making a political statement about taxation, politics, and Rome so they could kill him. It was a total set up. But Jesus wasn’t dumb. Cesar’s image was on the money. So He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.
The question is; who’s image do you bear?
If it’s God’s then shouldn’t you be rendering all of yourself onto Him?
I recently heard a preacher ask; “Why do we get so upset when we see the world acting like the world?” That’s what the world does. Even more; why are we so focused on changing the world by worldly means? 2 Tim 3 seems clear. Things are going to get worse before they get better. As Christians we are called to be in the world not of it. We are called to be Holy which means “set apart”. We can argue politics all day. But it doesn’t change anything. It only divides and divided kingdoms don’t stand.
By all means render onto Cesar what is Cesar’s and vote. Just be aware of your own confirmation bias and your own unreliable emotions.
That said, Jesus was clear. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. John 14:6
Christians are ruining their witness everyday by getting angry over politics. Meanwhile PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HELL.
If you ask me we need to be telling people who Truth is and stop wasting our time fighting over who Trump is.
At the end of the day we’re all dumb money when it comes to that.
While short term mission trips are often characterized by “Mount of Transfiguration experiences”. They tend to be ripe with fresh revelation accompanied by a renewed sense of gratitude for everything they have back home. Those involved in long term missions know the valley that Peter, James and John encountered in Mark 9:2-29. That God is more concerned with our own character, than our projects can be a hard lesson to learn.
Chaos is a recurring motif in third world missions .
We were in crisis mode when we thought Honduras was about to break out into civil war and made contingency plans in the event we would have to protect and or evacuate 48 children in our care. Soon after that passed, we had Honduran police storming our compound to take all of our files. Why? Because a member of the body of Christ in the USA decided that IMI was too prosperous and therefore must be laundering money. Of course IMI wasn’t and have since been cleared. The files have yet to be returned. There are always rumors of warrants out for our arrests made worse by the fact that one of our staff had already been the victim of one false arrest. If that weren’t bad enough corrupt government officials continue to try to confiscate the entire City of Refuge for thier own use. We are striving to comply with every regulation. Meanwhile legal paperwork almost always gets conveniently, lost immediately before an important deadline. There are near constant albeit ridiculous allegations of child neglect. One of my all-time favorites was when DINAF, the Honduran social services walked by our two soccer fields, two swimming pools, a volleyball and basketball court, wrestling room, game room, art room and music room before sitting down to tell us that we lacked sufficient recreational facilities. They gave us a deadline to rectify this or we’d be shut down. I asked them why they spent so much time and energy harassing us when there were children eating garbage at the dump. “Honduras is a poor country.” They said. “We don’t consider poverty to be a risk factor.”
Back in the states
Tom, our founder drives around the USA to preach 27 days out of every month. He is lucky if he sleeps four hours a night and eats granola bars because he doesn’t want to waste money on food. The other 3 days a month he spends in Honduras meeting with workers and playing with the children to remind himself why he is killing himself. Meanwhile Teresa spends months away from home in a 10 x 10 ft bedroom and working from 8am- 2m 7 days a week trying to hold things together at the City of Refuge.
Americans love poignancy and we have plenty of joyous stories to tell.
That said you probably won’t hear about the havoc wrought by defiant short-term missionaries or our teen age girls who go home on vacation and return pregnant. You don’t hear the horror of children forced by DINAF to return to their mother even though she showed them their father’s dead body after her boyfriend beheaded him. You don’t hear about sexually abused boys who become predators and have to be removed after we’ve sowed into them for a decade.
You probably won’t hear about seven-year-old who heard the devil tell him to light the baby’s dorm on fire.
We would have had 10 dead children if the mission director and I had arrived on scene three minutes later than we did. You didn’t see the bucket brigade we formed because the fire department couldn’t get there for another two hours. These are just a few of the challenges we’ve faced. But the Lord has a calling on each and every one of these children’s lives, some of whom would not be alive today if they weren’t with us. Others would have no hope of going beyond the sixth grade. In fact there are always between 40 and 60 children whose futures are at stake. God willing there will be hundreds more soon in Sierra Leone. There are 60 – 90 Honduran employees, some of whom would be risking their lives and those of their families to illegally cross the border if the City of Refuge were to shut down. Life is almost always chaotic and the future uncertain. We don’t know what will happen next only that it will. And most likely it will be crazier and harder than the last. Why do we continue? The answer is simple.
We’d rather be IN the will of God and under machine gun fire than OUT of His will on a beach in paradise.
Even so, that certain members of the body of Christ attack and defame the ministry under which we serve is heart breaking at times.
I know. I know, I know…Jesus said a student is not above his teacher… Mat 10:23-25 But I’ll be honest. Sometimes the temptation to harden our hearts and retaliate can be strong. We do our best to be Christ like, but it still hurts when the people we’d most expect to love and at least pray for us do their utmost to undermine us. What is it that causes people to be suspicious of any good yet rarely question a bad report?
Sometimes the only difference between secularists and some Christians is that Christians devour their brethren in the name of God.
But what does the Bible day about all this?
Phil 4:8 effectively tells us to actively, seek the good not the bad. For example, unlike today, it was common practice in early New Testament times to take any controversial statement and search the scriptures to prove it true rather than automatically attempt to build a case against it. Acts 17:11. You’d think so called spirit filled Christians would be keen to embrace this approach instead of the modern-day addiction to outrage. Too often, 2 Tim 3:1-9 language like “boasters, proud, unthankful, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, brutal, traitors, headstrong, haughty…” is more descriptive of their approach toward co-laborers in the kingdom.
Prov 18:21 says the power of life and death are in the tongue. Simply calling a brother a fool puts one in danger of Hell Fire Mat 5:21. Even so, Jesus forewarned us that there would be those who will deliver us up and even kill us in the name of serving God. John 16:2. Evangelicals commonly believe He was talking about radical Islam.
I think He was talking about us.
Perhaps one of the downsides to first world western financial and material prosperity is that it is all too easy to forget that “we” not “they” see as in a glass darkly.
There are all kinds of wonderful projects being carried out in the name of God apart from the understanding “that all have become unclean and our best deeds are like filthy rags” Isaiah 64:6. We are saved by grace through faith which is in itself a gift. That way no one can boast about what he or she has done. Eph 2:8-9 There is no valid comparison of one to another in the kingdom. Because not one of us can accomplish anything of ourselves. John 15:5 and God is no respecter of persons Acts 10:34-35. And while the Lord does have assignments for us to complete, Eph 2:10. Our greatest and most important witness to the world is our Love for one another. John 13:35
Too often people in the first world prop themselves up on a proverbial pedestal and imagine themselves as saviors via their own prosperity. They subconsciously equate their prosperity with Godliness, discernment and wisdom. They commonly envision the “least of these” in the parable of the sheep and the goats Mat 25:31-46 as the suffering child in a third world dump or the homeless person on the streets. While there is some truth to this, the bible calls these people the greatest who will inherit the kingdom of God. Mat 5:3. Is it not the one with whom we are most prone to disagree and perhaps even despise the one who more accurately represents “the least of these” within the context of our own lives?
In John Ch 4 Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well. And while people often focus on her adultery and the forgiveness of Jesus, many miss the fact that the Samaritans (some of today’s Palestinians) and Jews were and still are vehemently opposed to one another.
The well where they sat was Jacob’s well the ownership of which was claimed by both groups. Ironically the first thing Jesus said to the incredulous Samaritan woman was “give me a drink” which she promptly did.
Not only did she give a drink to a Jew, one regarded as “the least of the these” by her people, but she gave the drink to Jesus Himself.
One thing is certain, Jesus’s ministry is the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Do not involve yourself with those who slander and refuse to be reconciled. Have no part in ear tickling, extra biblical teachings they espouse. 2 Tim 4:3 It is crucial that we internalize that it is ONLY the death of Jesus on the cross and the blood He shed for our iniquities that makes us righteous. It is His resurrection that gives us hope in a dying world. What we say and do on earth is a measure of our gratitude for what He did, or it is a measure of our pride. In the end the grateful receive more to be grateful for.
The prideful almost always eat their own.
So, what does this have to do with horses and donkeys?
Well when a group of horses are attacked, they face each other and form a circle, then kick at the attacker on the outside.
When donkeys fight, they form a circle, face the attacker then kick each other to death.
So what’s it like; you know, this missionary thing?
Well, I’m only one guy, and while some might disagree, I’ll give you my somewhat limited view.
Being a missionary is hearing and following God’s call. It is counting the cost and laying down in faith whatever is, for what God’s word says could and should be. It is the willingness to be baptized by fire in ways you know could happen but maybe don’t believe ever will. It is wrestling with choosing to trust in the words and ideas of man or God alone when the country you’re in appears to be descending into civil war.
It is asking yourself if you have what it takes to give your life for the sake of the gospel and the children in your care if that moment of truth ever arrives.
It is waking up at 4 am to worship God alone in your secret place or hitting the road at 3 to spend fourteen hours in the back of a pickup. It is laughing with Hondurans and making jokes about pain as you are deluged with inches of freezing cold rain. It is confronting the worst poverty you’ve ever seen. It is witnessing the best and worst in others. It is exposing the same in yourself. It is witnessing God do genuine miracles and the fulfillment of “greater things than these shall you do.” It is recoiling at those powered by pride, mesmerizing others with cheap grace and lies.
It is realizing that the “least of these” in Mat 25 might not be the starving child hungry for love as much as it is that charlatan you despise.
Being a missionary means seeing people joyfully come into the kingdom as they see their genuine need. It means seeing people accept Jesus for the fiftieth time because they have learned that raising their hand is the PIN for two-legged, missionary ATMs. It is bringing your deepest, best and most profound revelations, your testimony, your experience strength and hope to people in the midst of the most unbearable suffering you’ve ever seen. It is confronting your inadequacies as you wonder if anything you do even matters. It is speaking, teaching and praying to bring healing and hope.
It is the humbling recognition that you could never endure what they do and that perhaps God placed them on earth to bring healing to you.
Being a missionary is learning to stop for the one and maybe for the one who always stops for the one when you think you have more important things to do. It is accepting that different people have different giftings and not everyone believes that as much as you. It is learning the meaning of James 1:4 and enduring the reality of the verses immediately before. It is always seeking to honor others.
It is walking out the understanding that people don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.
It is transcending culture and language to build relationships. It is comforting a crying child and bringing a chair to an elderly man. It is wrestling a group of little boys in the grass. It is cutting grass with a machete instead while wishing you had a lawnmower. It is drawing pictures and playing ball. It is dancing like a fool during worship to model not fearing the opinions of man. It is running in circles with fifteen little girls, desperately hungry for a father’s love, all of them vying for your arm. It is being laughed at because the word you thought was a woman’s name actually meant feces. It is building intimacy and trust by laughing at yourself. It is teaching and disciplining, hoping and believing the best as the children in your care continue to grow. It is having absolutely nothing to say as you stand before 45 children and half as many adults eagerly waiting for you to teach.
It is watching God come through to weave His own message from the words and testimonies of five-year-olds.
It is pouring into your favorites kids even though you’re not supposed to have favorites. It means counseling and confronting sin, setting boundaries and sometimes pleading that they repent. It is weeping alone when your favorites, those traumatized children you’ve sown into for years become a clear and present danger to the 43 children who remain.
It is the pain of returning them to the poverty-stricken circumstances from which they came a decade before.
It is charging into a burning building to save the lives of 5-7-year olds trapped inside. It is vomiting out the smoke you’ve inhaled while fighting the fire because there is no fire department to call. It is seeing the grace of God in action and realizing that children would be dead had they remained trapped for just a few seconds more. It is being told by a 7-year-old boy say that the devil told him to set light his mattress on fire. It is teaching him to only listen to the voice of God and hearing him innocently say “ok I will.”
It is suspending your fear of snakes and crushing the heads of poisonous snakes that threaten the children in their dorms.
It is walking out the truth that perfect love really does cast out all fear.
It is being loved and despised by people you’ve never met. It is being persecuted for righteousness sake. It is being envied, hated and scorned by visitors and outsiders who think they know better, could’ve done better, would’ve done better than you, but have never spent a day in anything that even mildly resembles your shoes. It is admitting that neither have you spent a day in theirs. It is struggling, at times, to remember that everyone has a story.
It is walking out the understanding that compassion never means compromising truth as you do your best to “love the least of these”.
It means being ready for anything at any time. It is traveling five hours through the mountains to bring powdered milk to a seven-year-old with cerebral palsy. It is making sock puppets with indigenous children and helping perform a sock puppet show about nonviolence. It is transporting a woman who was brutally attacked with a machete to a hospital the very same day. It is watching her 17-year-old son choke back tears while elevating his mother’s legs as she bleeds to death in the back of our truck. It means praying for a miracle, for divine healing. It means believing. It means not allowing your faith to be diminished when you learn that the woman just died. It means visiting and comforting the family when you don’t know what to say.
It means experiencing the meaning of “we see as in a glass darkly.”
It is living without electricity and water and hot water for sure. Sometimes there’s a bucket for a shower — other times just a cup. It is being sick with the same bug over and over again sometimes for weeks at a time until you finally become immune. It means accepting that if anything really serious happens, you’ll probably be dead. It means being present within the moment and that tomorrow will take care of itself.
Being a missionary is placing your full trust in God and knowing for certain that He can be trusted.
Being a missionary can feel lonely and futile at times. It is writing newsletters and blogs you think no one will read. It is pouring your heart and soul into making videos you hope will touch hearts and compel others to join the harvest. It is hearing “hey- I really love your voice. You could be on the radio.” It is wondering why so many friends and family no longer seem to care and seem to resent you now that you’re gone. It is the shock and amazement at how many people are paying attention, how many people care and come through right at the midnight hour.
Being a missionary means learning over and over again that God is true to his word.
Being a missionary is having gratitude for what you are served. It is appreciating a hamburger, pizza or ice cream like never before. It is seeing that a lot if not most people in the body of Christ are simply repeating the lessons learned by Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Being a missionary is a shortcut to the truth in chapter 12.
It is loving, praying, feeding, blessing, laughing, trusting, weeping, sometimes wanting to scream or do worse in your rage. Being a missionary is the willingness to be broken because brokenness is the sand in which the Pearl of Great Price is polished and found.
Being a missionary means being a “little Christ”- a Christian.