The Gospel of the Kingdom

The Olivet Discourse

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 pointing to 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.

The outline begins in Mat 24:3

  • 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 claim to 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 wrong but 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”.

Then the end will come. Mat 24:15

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.

In addition,

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.

Moving on…

“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 9:27Dan 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,

To live is Christ. To die is gain.

I will continue to pray for the grace required to be faithful even unto death.

Maranatha!

A Brief Convictional

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?”

People only eat when they are hungry.

Maranatha!

Choose Your Hill

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.

1 min video no script just footage.

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.

Errant Epistemology

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.

His disposition toward Israel in Habakkuk 1 and Jerimiah 19 looks very different from Isaiah 45.

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.

Rev 13:10 is clear.

There is a lesson for America there.

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.

Maranatha!       

Maranatha ( ) Maranatha

I know it’s Christmas and depending on the audience, “Merry Christmas” can be a sincere wish, an act of defiance, or a virtue signal. As for us, Marantha seems a more fitting greeting this year.   

It’s been about a month since our little mission cabin was destroyed in an Iota landslide. In a few days, it will be exactly a year since God called us out of the City of Refuge into the mountains here.

To say that we loved our little cabin would be an understatement for sure.  Of course, we always knew our time there would come to an end.  That awareness only added to the sacredness. Ironically last year I wrote that Water brought us here. I guess it’s only fitting that water-soaked earth should take us out.

I ended that post with Proverbs 3:5-6.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

Like a lot of people, we’ve had our times of wrestling with God this year. Perhaps you can relate. “Why Lord did you bring us here only to lock us down in our house for 13 out of every 14 days.” Yet “Why?” is the cry of spoiled children. “What are you doing Lord?” is the only valid one.  The only thing that came to mind each time I asked was the word “preserve”.  Cathy heard “worship me”. Meanwhile, each time we stopped wrestling with God over our situation, let go, and focused on Him and His word, He’d bring His purpose into our lives.

I can’t describe the confusion I experienced as I walked down the road that morning and realized that our house was completely gone then saw the two boulders laying side by side in the exact place where our heads would have been had we chosen to sleep there that night.

I did get part of an answer to my question for the year.

The Lord had directed our steps and preserved us.

The other part came from Jacob. The story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32 has always been one of my favorites.   It was during our morning devotions the other day that the word “preserved” emerged again in verse 30. I’d never really noticed it before. We looked it up and found the original Hebrew word is “Natsal”. 

It means to “deliver, rescue and save.

“Natsal” also means to strip.

We had been stripped of everything but the clothes on our backs and we were homeless in the third world.  And yet a strange supernatural peace enveloped us as well as an even stronger bond between us as husband and wife. 

That bond and peace remain with us now.

It is a peace that comes with the reassurance that His hand is indeed upon us and the understanding that true worship is trusting Him no matter what. We did. We do. If we leave this earth tomorrow it is only because our appointed time has arrived.

In the meantime, He will preserve us.

Like most full-time missionaries we’ve had our share of weird harrowing experiences. One thing we have observed is that life goes on as normal until suddenly it doesn’t. One minute your driving down the road singing silly songs then staring down the barrels of rifles or threatened with spears in the next. In any case, facing one’s imminent demise is always surreal.  One thing is certain. All of life as we know it will one day be swept away. As our 78-year-old friend, Maria just said,

“He gives and takes away.”

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Mat 6:25-27

It didn’t take long for us to release all our worldly possessions that were buried beneath mud and wreckage.  The ease with which we did this surprised everyone especially us.  A few days later our Honduran friends asked us to come to their house.  When we arrived we found clothing and other things that the community had painstakingly dug up and washed for us. 

They even dug my drone and a pouch full of Cathy’s special heirloom jewelry she’d made 40 years ago out of three feet of mud.

The love was priceless and palpable even if our hearts sank under the renewed burden of stuff.  

That sounds crazy. I know.

What are you doing Lord?

While we are certain more will be revealed, at this point, the joy of a James 1:2-4 testing that increased our faith and the contentment described by Paul in Phil 4:11-13 appear to be the biggest takeaway right now. It’s one thing to read and know the word. Living is is another.

Since then we’ve been consumed with helping those less fortunate than ourselves. If you follow us and or Hope In Time Ministries on FaceBook then you know what we’ve been up to.  As for our welfare, we have a fully furnished house to stay in until March 1st.

We have no idea where we are going after that. Mat 6:25-27.

The devastation here can be mind-numbing and the temptation to check out is real.

Yet on this day, our hearts go out to so many in the 1st world.  Those grasping for the material. Those praying that their old lives will be restored and those with all hope in a political candidate. Those with the same hope in a vaccine. Those who remain terrified and angry about so many things beyond their control. Those consumed by the cares of this world and are blind.

To those I say, “there is a better way”.

I’m not a prophet, fortune teller, or seer but I’m guessing that events in the coming weeks and years are going to draw many to the Lord and cause others to fall away. I believe there is a message in the recent events of our lives that applies to all.

Everyone on earth has a world view.  Everyone frames their lives accordingly. Every world view is framed or bracketed by unprovable assumptions regarding one’s origin and destiny. It is on these assumptions that we all place our trust and fill the space in between. That so many today are thoroughly consumed with anxiety and fear over things that they can not control let alone understand is not the result of events between the brackets.  

They are a result of bad bracketing.  

Maranatha is an Aramaic word that depending on how it is pronounced means “Jesus has come” and “Jesus is coming”.  It is the gospel of the Kingdom condensed into one word. It is the truth claim that brackets the life of every true follower of Christ regardless of how messed up things might be in the space in-between. It is the truth claim the brackets our existence and supports everything we do whether or not we have a place to lay our heads. Let’s face it. “Hard” is a relative term. This past year has been hard for everyone. Yet while Jesus did not promise freedom from suffering He did promise peace.  That peace is contingent on the bracketing. 

He came. He is coming. He knows you by your name.

Be Merry.

(Maranatha!

Maranatha!)

OUR THEME SONG FOR THE YEAR

The Most Incredible Woman

And walking in Joseph’s shoes

There is an amazing woman here in Honduras. Today is her birthday and I have nothing to give her so I thought I would tell you all just a little about her. I’ve learned more from her than any other human being on earth. She is tough, obedient to God, and has an immovable faith. She is a living epistle of Truth, love, and the compassion of Jesus Christ. She is always available even when it’s uncomfortable, always willing, always stops for the one.

Her best days, the ones that most fill her with the manifest presence of God and make her face light up with His light and love are those spent walking miles through the mountains carrying a few bags of rice and beans to feed the poor and then sit in the dirt with them. Lower and slower and to know Christ and Him crucified is her goal. Her greatest most heartfelt desire is that others would know Jesus as she does and more. She is a true worshipper who loves God more than anyone I know. She loves to dance. To see her dance before the Lord in worship is to witness one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on earth. Her very presence is a constant reminder and frequent conviction to me of what is most important. I am so very blessed and honored to call her my wife.

I want to honor her today in particular because today 11/22/2020 is her birthday. She lost almost everything and doesn’t even have a home. Still her greatest concern right now is for those who just lost theirs.

Her favorite movie is The Passion of the Christ. Lately she has been pondering aloud the scene where after being nailed to the cross the soldiers pull Jesus into a vertical position and the cross settles into the waiting post hole. Meanwhile Mary rises from her knees, her fists full of the earth she’d been clutching. Her hands slowly and reluctantly open in apparent surrender.

Cathy frequently wonders what she would have done had she been present when Jesus was tortured and crucified. Would she have become dejected as the Apostles did. Or would she have screamed “Why?!!” in rage at God. What was in the natural the most horrific treatment of any human being at the hands of another became the path of redemption for all of humanity.

His ways are not our ways.

For example, this Land Rover that you saw parked across from our house the day before the landslide does not belong to us. We don’t own a car. It is a ministry vehicle and was used to rescue us after the landslide. Josh picked it up the day it started raining because someone had siphoned half a tank of gas. It would be gone and we would still be completely stranded had the gas not been stolen.

While Jesus is the eternal answer to everything that ails us, Mary is the often under rated example of what it actually looks like to embrace that Truth here in earth. Perhaps it is the suffering of childbirth and motherhood that afforded Mary and all mothers with the deepest understanding of God’s grace and compassion such that they become living epistles. All I know is that Cathy is God’s living epistle to me and more people than she knows.

Today I want everyone to know it.

I want to honor my wife today because today is her birthday and I almost lost her. If there is anything at all that is good in me here on this earth it’s because God knew I needed her for a wife. Frankly, I don’t know how I would ever go on without her.

Ironically we slept under this statue of Joseph on the night our home was washed away. I felt, but could not identify the significance at the time. There’s not a whole lot written about Joseph in the Bible. We are left to imagine how he might have felt and what he thought as he became homeless and stood by and supported his wife who was quite literally filled with the manifest presence of God. When I tell you that children and adults  in our village cry and ask us to stay, they are not crying to me. They are crying to and over the loss of Cathy. Cathy’s birthdays have been historically tragic. There is a time and season for everthing. This is Cathy’s season. I can not give her anything. Even if I did she’d give it away. My prayer today is that God grant her His peace and joy.  All I can say is that today

I think I have a better idea of what it it must have been like to walk in Joseph’s shoes.

We’ve got a long hard road ahead of us. If you think of it perhaps say a prayer for Cathy today.  I am so much more aware of just how much she has impacted the lives of others than she. I just wanted the world to know just a few of the reasons why I love her and am so amazed by her.

MARANATHA!

Still Growing Down in Honduras

A Gray Hope Missionaries Update

When people ask missionaries about missions the easiest answer is to give details about ministries and what we’d like to think we see God doing through us and around us. There have been times when our own reports sound more like an investment prospectus than a report of what God is doing. Most missionary blogs and newsletters do not begin with a list of failures and brokenness.  And while the secular cults of personality and comparison have invaded the church and made the quest for personal significance and success into idols,

His strength is made perfect in weakness.” We would rather boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us.  For when we are weak, then we are strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Brokenness remains the key to missions.

Therefore we are always compelled to first qualify ourselves according to our failures and infirmities before we qualify any ministry we do. Our lives before Christ included things like addiction, divorce, suicidal ideation, and prison to name a few. I struggled with alcoholism for two decades and failed at everything before being instantly delivered from it and the buckshot coming my way amidst a point-blank shotgun blast. I wasn’t looking for Jesus at the time. I was looking to die. I did. Cathy was essentially looking to do the same when Jesus delivered her. John 15:16

The extent to which God uses us today remains a function of our brokenness and the utter dependence upon Jesus that flows from it.

That brokenness is not just historical.   

Like most aspiring missionaries we had dreams of changing the world for Jesus when we began. That’s before we accepted that God may use us but He doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He places us where ever He does because where He puts us is the best place for Him to conform us to His image. Rom 8:29 As easy it might be to tell tails of adventure and harrowing brushes with death, and how we are saving Honduras in spite of it. The fact is that while the adventure is real it is God and sometimes Hondurans who save us. If that weren’t bad enough, for the record, we have never led a single person to Christ. We have planted and watered a lot of seed. 1 Cor 3:6-8 We have also been present when people made the decision to surrender John 4:36-38. We have never healed anyone. We have seen God heal people when we prayed for them. John 11:4 I once saw a demon-possessed man set free on a short term mission trip as I prayed. But honestly, I only prayed because I was last in line in a fire tunnel and the pastor was yelling at me. I didn’t know what to say so I just started saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” over and over until he fell down sobbing at my feet. People said it was amazing. I was more amazed than anyone because I didn’t believe in any of that stuff at the time. When we teach we assume we are there for one person because most people usually don’t care what we say. As it turns out we frequently teach in tongues. Many times we hear, “Wow I really liked what you said.” Only we never said what they heard. My point is that our path was and is one of God accomplishing His will in spite of us rather than because of us. We are not spiritual special forces as some are prone to view missionaries. We are people that God uses to prove that He can use anyone anywhere provided they are a yielded vessel. He is the potter. We are His cracked pots. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other as His will and purpose unfolds before us.

Most times it feels like we are just along for the ride.

I realize this might not be the purposeful and intentional way in which many imagine the great the commission should unfold.

However, it does lend some perspective to Eph 2:8-10

The valley of Megiddo from the Mount of Transfiguration. We received a free round trip to Israel last year.

There is a tendency in the contemporary body of Christ to pursue Mat 17 Mount of Transfiguration type experiences.  Many Christians spend their entire lives chasing prophetic affirmations mostly about themselves and encounters with the manifest presence of God. Yet the mountain top is the place where God reveals Himself as the anchor to which we tether our faith as we venture into the valley below. It is the firey crises of faith in the valleys of life that burn off the dross and purify us.

Becoming a missionary is volunteering for the valley.

COVID was one such valley for us as we found ourselves locked down immediately after moving to a remote mountain village where we didn’t know anyone and many had never even met a gringo before. The State Department kept sending emails advising us to evacuate. When the border closed we knew we were committed and that we were on our own if we get sick. Several months in, depression and anxiety crept up on Cathy. A sense of futility bordering on apathy snuck up on me as I heard that familiar Gen 3 whisper, “Did God really say?…” “Did God really place you here? Or were we imagining things?” There were only two places to go to at this point. One was what AIM alumni know as the “Q” zone (the quit zone) deep in the valley of the “Project Mood Curve”. The other was deeper into the Secret Place.

  Thankfully we were both compelled toward the latter.

Yet even that was a function of His grace more than it was our will and our choice.

That’s when His purpose opened up. God confirmed that we are exactly where He wants us.

Perhaps the biggest difference between full-time missions in the third world and ministry in the first is that missionaries have fewer options from which to choose before God becomes the only one. While the first world rewrites the book of Ecclesiastes, missions offers a short cut to the truth in chapter 12.

Never the less it is a paradoxical process of growth that He brings us through.

“When you are done growing, you’re done.”

-Heidi Baker-

We want less of us and more of Him.  John 3:30-36

So we keep growing down.

All that being said, “becoming” a missionary is simple.  It is hearing and being obedient to God’s call regardless of whether it makes sense.  It is counting the cost and laying down in faith whatever is, for what God’s word says could and should be. 

Being” a missionary is living in James 1:4 and sometimes enduring the reality of the verses immediately before. 

Lately, it’s been walking through mountain jungles to deliver food because of the lockdown. 

And filling the gap at our house because fear canceled school. 

Of course, the true purpose is neither food nor school but opening doors to eternal Truth. More often it means planting in hope that another may harvest. One thing we have learned;

People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care. 

We Do.

We are into our fifth year on the field and our fourth year in Honduras. 

Right now, we are in a fairly remote mountain location called Cerro Azul Meambar and in Luke 10 forerunning stages of a new ministry among partly Miskito Indian people. That means going low and slow, building relationships and trust, and becoming a part of our new community. We do a lot of children’s ministry. Children are great ambassadors between us and sometimes more skeptical adults.

Our real heart is for discipleship which among other things means involving kids ages 10 -13 in outreach.

The second aspect of forerunning is not as fun. It is finding and binding the Mat 12:22-30 strong man. In missions terms, the strong man is the person, issue, or situation that impedes gospel truth. It can be an individual, political party, or social issues like poverty, domestic violence, or addiction, etc.  After nearly six months we are narrowing it down. Most children here only attend school up to the 6th grade at which point they might grow coffee and net an average $3 for every hundred pounds of beans they grow.  If they harvest for someone else, they might make $2. 

Hondurans are notorious for their stoic, and fateful surrender to hopelessness.

Our prayer is that the fateful become faith-filled.

That said, the strong man appears to be alcoholism here.

It makes perfect sense in the spirit.  In addition to the two of us being former addicts, I was an adolescent substance abuse counselor and a clinical supervisor for a decade before I was a missionary. For fun, Cathy and I ran a faith-based co-ed transitional housing program for prison inmates. We lived with 5-10 inmates and sometimes their children for twelve years. As much as we have tried to get away and do something different, God continues to place this population in our path.  It was our brokenness that led us to Christ.  Apparently, it is still the same brokenness that continues to qualify us in ministry.  Ok, Lord.

Thy will be done.

Maranatha!

The Miraculous Mundane

How to name a puppy

Several years ago, Cathy had a vivid dream involving butterflies before we left for mission school in Africa and then moved to Honduras. Then she began seeing butterflies and butterfly symbols everywhere she went. It was happening so often that it seemed more than just a little prophetic and she began researching the history and symbology of butterflies. As you might expect the butterfly is a universally, age-old symbol of transformation.

Butterfly in our house

Some transformations are sudden. Most are gradual. Romans 12:1-2 tells us “not to be conformed to the ways of the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds”. In Mathew 17:1-13 we see Jesus suddenly transformed in the presence of Peter, James, and John on the mount of transfiguration before leading them into a crisis of faith in the valley below. Israelis call this peak Mt. Tabor or “A Megiddo “ (Above Megiddo). Megiddo is the valley of the final prophetic battle of Armageddon. We were more than amused to find ourselves surrounded by butterflies as we walked this sacred ground when we were blessed with a free ticket to Israel in 2019.

A Megido

God shows up in so many poignant ways for us since we entered the mission field that only made sense that we would find ourselves surrounded by the most amazing butterflies in Cerro Azul when God uprooted us in January.

There is one variety here that only appears in pairs. They are small, pure white, and too fast to photograph as they dance in perfect unison forming a double helix as they ascend. They fascinate me. Ironically, I hadn’t seen any in several weeks when two of them suddenly appeared as I wrote about them here.

It occurred to me that maybe they were always there, and I had merely stopped seeing them.

We Christians can be rather impetuous in our expectation that God should always do a new thing. The end result can look a lot like ingratitude and even idolatry.

Cathy has always been just a tiny bit anti-dog. Don’t get me wrong, she loves dogs. Unfortunately, she’s allergic to shed animal hair. While we had dogs in Hawaii, they did not enter the house. Here in Honduras, she didn’t even want dogs in our yard. Then one day we went to buy eggs and carried a shedless short hair puppy home. If that weren’t enough this dog lives inside like a child. As of this writing, she’s even been sleeping in our bed. 

Still, our dog did not have a name.

As might be expected we are the only gringos here. In fact, many in our village had never met one face to face. Suffice it to say we have a near-constant flow of people knocking at our door. Ten-year-old Carmen, one of the firsr girls we met was the first to come knocking that day.

Carmen

¿Cuál es su nombre? What is her name? She asked. “She doesn’t have a name yet,” we said. “What should we name her?” “Mariposa” she replied without hesitation.

Mariposa means butterfly. 

I have yet to meet a Honduran dog named “butterfly”.

It seemed like a no brainer to me. “That’s too long,” Cathy said.

“Dog names should only be two syllables.”

Thirty minutes later a family we’d never met came to sell papayas. The daughter looked to be about Carmen’s age. She freaked out with joy when she saw our new puppy. ¿Cuál es su nombre? She asked? She doesn’t have a name yet. What should we name her? The girl paused and said,

“Mariposa”.

But Cathy was still bucking the name. Go figure. That’s when I posted “Name our dog” on Facebook.

We got well over one hundred excellent suggestions. Any of them would have worked in my book. But Cathy was still racking her brain. Hosanna, Java, Esperanza, Glory, all of them sounded so good. 

“Help me, honey.” She said.

On Saturday we had our usual children’s ministry.

One sweet little girl named Alicia showed up early. Cathy had gone to retrieve a new girl and I was left to introduce our new puppy myself. Alicia was enthralled. ¿Cuál es su nombre? she asked. “Nunca.” “None” I began in my characteristically horrible Spanish. “Que nombre para mi perita?” What should I name her? I asked.

“Mariposa!” Alicia blurted.

Perhaps the prophetic people out there will see a deeper message in all this. There’s certainly no lack of prophetic words these days. I think God wants us to see the sacred within the moment, to pay attention, to remain grateful amidst the current and coming chaos, and embrace the miraculous within the mundane.  I am certain more will be revealed provided we don’t allow the times to change who we are. Thankfully there’s nothing quite like children and a puppy to facilitate our transformative process of growing down in Honduras.

For now, it is a simple act of obedience when I declare,

Nuestra el nombre del perrita es

Mariposa

(Our dog’s name is Butterfly)

Sometimes the mundane is the miracle.

Mike the Cat – An Allegory

Years ago I had a really laid back black and white cat named Mike. I’ve never really been a cat person but this cat was cool. He was so cool that he got along with everyone even dogs. While neighborhood cats fought in the street at night, Mike stayed home and ignored all the drama. Dogs would chase the street fighting cats during the day. They would simply sniff Mike.

They were never quite sure what to make of him.

Each day I would return home from work to find Mike standing quietly by his food bowl in calm almost polite expectation of being fed. One day a scrawny kitten showed up just as Mike began to eat. The kitten stood staring as Mike ate then abruptly smacked him in the head. Mike stepped back stunned as the sad little thing started eating his food. I watched in quiet amusement. Mike looked like a gentle giant next to the scruffy ball of fur. This same scene played out every day for at least a week. Part of me began to anthropomorphize Mike. To be honest I felt convicted as I watched him turn the other cheek. Was he praying as he was being despitefully used?

Other times I wondered if Mike wasn’t just dumb.

One day the kitten walked in, smacked Mike in the head, and proceeded to consume all of his food. Everything looked the same as Mike stood calmly by. Only this time he ever so slowly lifted a paw that was nearly the same size as the scruffy little kitten’s head. Then calmly dropped it smashing it’s little face down into the bowl. His demeanor never changed. He remained calm and there was absolutely no sound as he held the struggling ball of fur down and just as abruptly let it go. Needless to say, the kitten didn’t fight. It just ran away. I heard barking and hissing and gnashing teeth in the street as it went. I never saw the little kitten again.

Mike disappeared a few weeks later.

I never saw him again.

“If you dance with the devil the devil doesn’t change, the devil changes you.”

– Neal Wagatsuma-

We are all being gaslit.

Matthew 26:52-53,

John 18:36 and Col 3

Maranatha!

Anatomy of Deception – Binding the Strong Man

How do you determine what is true? How do you discern right from wrong?

How you answer these questions is determined by your world view. There are many. If you are Christian the Word of God should interpret your experience and frame your world view. Deception results when people interpret the Word of God via their experience and allow their experience to frame their world view. The first is objective. The latter is subjective.

Subjectivity is a growing problem in the body of Christ

Many refuse to see it.

In Mark Chapter 3 Jesus appoints the 12 disciples and gives them the power to preach, heal, and cast out demons. When the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees heard this they tried to attack Him.

Jesus was the Truth and they called Him a liar and a devil.

So He used the laws of coherence and correspondence to refute their claims. The laws of coherence and correspondence require that a truth claim makes sense and corresponds to reality within the context in which it is being stated. Violations of these laws are most easily demonstrated by the oxymorons like this famous nursery rhyme that result.

“One bright day in the middle of the night two dead boys got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords, and shot each other.”

In this case, Jesus simply points out that a house or a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand and asks,

“How can Satan cast out Satan?”

He goes on to say that

 “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.”

While people tend to focus on the unseen supernatural power involved in casting out demons, Jesus began every confrontation with the truth. E.g. Luke 4:1-13, John 8, John 17:17. Objective truth is the most often overlooked supernatural aspect of God.

The strong man is the lie that masquerades as truth.

Of course, the natural man wants to find a natural manifestation of the lie to oppose in the flesh. Social media and our city streets are proof positive of this. Yet we do not war against flesh and blood. While our battle is ultimately metaphysical against rulers and principalities of the air Eph 6:12 the more tangible context is often in the realm of belief and world view. It makes sense given that everyone’s eternal disposition is contingent on these.

That’s probably at least one reason why belief is addressed 148 times in 135 verses in the New Testament alone.

Satan has from the beginning always attacked belief on the grounds of the existence and nature of truth.

Today we are facing an outright assault on truth in the form of a calculated deconstruction of our history, identity, language, education, culture, and most importantly our faith. While people like Paul-Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida often get much of the contemporary credit, deconstruction began with Satan in Genesis 3,

“Did God really say?”

Deconstruction always attacks meaning and is ultimately about power.

Random and crazy as it often appears, deconstruction is neither of these.

On January 10, 1963, Cleon Skousen a former undercover FBI Agent, presented 45 stated American communist party goals to congress. These enumerated deconstructive goals included tearing down statues, defunding the police, and replacing them with mental health professionals who would diagnose anti-communist propensities as mental disorders. It proposed using the UN to achieve a global communist government. Getting people to accept this would be gradual and achieved by first circumventing education and dumbing down the curriculum. This would be further supported through the discrediting of parents and the institution of the family as a whole and finally teaching violent student insurrection as a legitimate method for achieving political goals.

Sound familiar?

Of course, the Christian church and our faith was and is acknowledged as the primary obstacle to achieving all the other goals.

Hence

Communist agenda #27 “Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with social religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a religious crutch.”

This is happening!

In addition to the social and political deconstruction of the American way of life, there is a growing Christian deconstruction movement resulting in people including leaders rejecting Christ. The supporting intellectual framework is often just a cover for sin and or a worldly agenda. The most sophisticated arguments usually revolve around apparent textual inconsistencies in the Bible, as yet unproven historical claims, fake science, and false justice. “How could a loving God…? “If God is real why doesn’t He…? “Where is the proof of….?” They demand proof according to human criteria in apparent ignorance that God is sovereign, His ways are higher than our ways and that faith, not empirical proof is the foundation of lived Christianity. Luke 18:8 In the end Biblical truth is deconstructed according to the standards of man. Like Jesus, in Mark 3 God and His Church are judged as evil.

Of course, nature abhors a vacuum.

Once God is removed from the equation, those programmed by media to embrace an entitled, monetized victim mindset are more than ready to accept the State as the god who provides.

#27 accomplished.

Do not be deceived. The real battle is against God regardless of the social issues in which it manifests.

Today we have growing divisions in the church. There are political divisions, racial divisions, and divisions over gender to name a few. More importantly, there are divisions regarding God’s position on these and other issues. Every conflict is ultimately rooted in Pontious Pilate’s question in John 18:38,

“What is Truth?”

If you are a Christian then Jesus is the Truth. He is also the Word. We learn what is true by studying it. 2 Tim 2:15

We bind the strongman by knowing and proclaiming it. 2 Cor 10:4-5, 2 Tim 2:15, Col 2:8-10

Biblical truth always corresponds with the Word of God and remains coherent within that context or it is not Truth.

Coherent exegesis is always God-centered and objective.

Man centered exegesis is always subjective and results in perverted truth, sin, and divisions.

Not sometimes.

Always!

Hence Jesus ended the discussion with a warning.

“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”—because they said,

“He has an unclean spirit.”

In it’s simplest form, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the insistence that the Truth is a lie and a refusal to be corrected.

If we profess to be Christian but lean on our own understanding of God and His will and refuse to be corrected by the Word of God, then we risk being as guilty as the Scribes and Pharisees and subject to the same consequences.

So how do we avoid this?

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

Anytime you find yourself passionately arguing for or against a particular world view or moral issue etc. be like the Acts 17:11 Bereans and do so Biblically. That means citing scripture or at least being able to support your position with scripture if and when your position is questioned or opposed. It means demanding the same regarding all truth claims from brothers and sisters whether or not we agree with them.

“Where is that in the Bible?” Should be our default.

Sometimes this requires long-suffering and bearing with one another while Prov 27:17 sparks fly. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is happening today. People are refusing to even discuss let alone debate essential doctrines. In the case of radical subjectivists, either you agree or you get canceled. This rapidly emerging trend looks a lot like a 2 Thes 2:1-3 falling away. So be it. The Bible says that will and must happen.

One thing is certain. Truth isn’t Christian Truth unless it corresponds with scripture and remains coherent within that context.

Any other standard of truth, justice, or righteousness is at best an attempt to cast Satan out with Satan. At worst it is the manifest presence of Satan himself. Many today refuse to hear this. The organization Black Lives Matter is a perfect example. I realize that my saying this will send some people into a rage. Several have already accused me of misrepresenting Jesus. Others have accused me of white supremacy and of representing Satan myself.

I’m ok with that.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!” Mat 10:24-25

Besides, Jesus “didn’t come to bring peace but a sword.” Mat 10:34-39

In any case, BLM supporters should definitely watch this and listen to the words directly from their founders before disagreeing.

The salvation of some could very well be in the balance.

Then explain,

What fellowship does light have with darkness? 2 Cor 6:14

Call it subjectivism, Marxism, witchcraft, progressivism, Critical theory, postmodernism, deconstruction; call it whatever you want. The Strongman is doing home and church invasions.

If we don’t bind him with Truth now, we are going to be bound and plundered later.

Maranatha!

Racism, Truth and The Samaritian Woman

As missionaries, we view the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John Chapter 4 as a wisdom treasure trove and a template for ministry and missions especially within the context of racial prejudice.

As is the case with pretty much every ethnic conflict, 1st century Samaritans and Jews were diametrically opposed to each other on the basis of race and heritage. The Samaritans lived by Jacob’s well and believed they were God’s righteous people. The Jews in Jerusalem believed the exact opposite. The Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim. The Jews worshiped on Mount Moriah.

Both groups were focused on the fleshy constructs in the name of the kingdom.

Samaria was regarded by the Jews as a racial no go zone kind of like the old “wrong side of the tracks” or “skid row” in the US. In fact, Jews would walk several extra miles around Samaria when journeying between Judea and Galilee just to avoid walking through it.

John 4 says Jesus “needed to go through Samaria.”

Upon arrival, He encountered a disenfranchised adulterous woman at the community well and asked her for a drink. Community wells were a focal point for village social life among women. The same practice can be seen throughout the third world today. That the Samaritan woman was there alone in the heat of the day is an indication of just how ostracized and shame-based she must have been. Not only did Jesus violate the rule that Jews did not talk to Samaritans. But Jewish men, and especially Rabbis did not talk to women at all let alone known serial adulteresses. While both the woman and the disciples were incredulous that Jesus would even acknowledge her presence, He turned around and drank Samaritan water from a Samaritan cup. Anyone involved in third world missions will be familiar with the thoughts that run through one’s mind when handed a cup of potentially bacteria-ridden water to drink. It always comes down to a question of personal well being versus honoring your host.

Honor is the foundational key to opening doors in missions and reconciliation.

Racism, be it rooted in ideas of racial supremacy, purity, or systemic power, is anti-relational at its core in that it denies an individual or group their inherent, God-given dignity in order to dominate them. That Critical Race Theorists and Social Justice Warriors do so for the sake of achieving dominance over those whom they regard as abusively dominant still qualifies as racism. As in the case of any sin, the devil doesn’t care if one is obsessed with continuing to sin or obsessed with not doing it.  He just needs sin, not God to be the main focus.

The same applies to the sin of racism.

Jesus repeatedly ignored man’s interpretations of identity, value, culture, and morality. He never debated because He knew what was in man, namely a constant vying for personal prosperity, privilege, and power. Neither did He debate the devil when he tried to tempt Him with power and privilege. That’s not just white people. That’s all people and is a result of the Fall.  Sometimes he exposed and firmly rebuked those like Peter, who should have known better than to judge according to the standards of fallen man. More often He simply short-circuited false and or disingenuous arguments with parables and scripture then left people alone to wrestle with the truth before God.

The story of the Samaritan woman is poignant in regard to race and racism because Jesus modeled the correct approach. He honored her in spite of her sin and in the presence of those who normally would not have. He didn’t embark on a long diatribe about inequity or misogyny. He did not engage in a long philosophical and historic apologetic analysis of systemic issues. Neither did He ignore the woman’s sin. He called it out in a very matter of fact way and then directed her attention to Himself.

The end result was a flipped script among everyone present and the transformation of a shame-based and marginalized woman into the first recorded evangelist in the Gospel.

There are so very many lessons and prophetic implications contained within this story. The moral as it relates to racism is that racism is best countered by ignoring all its fleshy social constructs and short-circuiting it with honor in the presence of others. Healing comes with an intense focus on Truth. Jesus was clear.

True worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:24

Flesh based socially constructed racism is not possible within that context. 

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1

Think about it.