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Lament of a Speed Bump

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

No one likes a speed bump.

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

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

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

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

The further one steps, the deeper one sinks.

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

and resolve to live not by lies.   

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

Problems only arise when darkness gets exposed.

So I set up camp in Ephesians 5.

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

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

“You want me to shut up?! Kill me!”

Believe me, they wanted to.

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

“We’re gonna eat you alive!”

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

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

There was fire in my bones in those days.

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

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

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

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

Why is that never enough?

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

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

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

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

As it turns out this is common in our area .

The guilty include those like me who turn their heads.

Thump, thump, discordant bump...

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

What is the point if there is no transformation?

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

We want to be successful in Jesus’s name.

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

Bump, bump discordant thump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s about Witness not whiteness. 

Thump, thump discordant thump.

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

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

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

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

Yet the further one steps, the deeper one sinks.

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

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

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

“Hey, you know what? I was wrong.”

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

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

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

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

They never will be. 

Hence the Greek word for witness is “Martyr”.

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

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

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

“Speaking in love”.

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

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

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

In fact, he said it twice

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

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

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

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

As Cathy just said,

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

Phil 1:21

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

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

I need to repent!

Thump, thump, discordant thump.

This is the lament of a speed bump

MARANATHA

CRT Genealogy and Scripture Rebuttal

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

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

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

The beginning

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

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

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

1789-99 Rousseau – egalitarianism – French Revolution

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

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

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

1911 Chinese Revolution

Russian Communist Revolution 1917

American Communist Party forms 1919

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

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

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

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

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

1945-52 Chinese Communist Revolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Michael Brown killed in St. Louis MO

2016 Donald Trump elected POTUS.

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

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

2020 Ahmaud Arbery shot by vigilantes in GA.

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

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

2021  Patrisse Cullors purchases four homes for 3.2 Million dollars.

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

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

These people are accursed. 

Bible Verses

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

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

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

Gen 1:26 all of are His image-bearers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARANATHA

Report from the Wall

The majority of my time in Honduras is spent bringing food to the foodless, roofs to the roofless, school to the schoolless, and hopefully sparking people to ask us “why the heck are you doing this?” so that we can tell them who sent us and thereby bring hope to the hopeless. Still, I am by nature, if not appointment a watchman on the wall. Hence my blogging usually takes the form of warnings to the body of Christ, and those who mock us. I sometimes wonder how I happen upon the information that I do as certainly don’t go looking for it.  This week my wife listened to a sermon by one of America’s most prominent pastors who gave a sermon where he explained that it was NOT God’s will for the Apostle Peter to be martyred. 

He said Peter died because no one prayed.  

The longer we are on the mission field the more grateful we are that we took the time to go to a missionary school in Africa before coming to Honduras.  We learned from so many different teachers with different points of view. One particularly poignant moment during this time was when Indonesian evangelist and author of Like a Mighty Wind Mel Tari walked into our classroom pavilion occupied by two hundred young student missionaries sprawled out on the cement. Some were on their faces in prayer.  Others lay slain in the spirit. Still, others sat uncontrollably twitching and rhythmically proclaiming  “Woah!” – “Woah!” as evidence of some deeply intimate interaction with Holy Spirit.  None of this was happening to me as I stood skeptically watching while at the same time double-mindedly chastising myself for my lack of faith. “Who am I to question God?” I thought as I quenched my internal dissent.  Imagine my surprise when this pastor who had verifiable experience with seeing people healed and raised from the dead when he prayed, suddenly began yelling

“Get up!” “Come on! Knock it off!” “You know what you are doing! Get up!!

Mel seemed quite unperturbed by their offense as they scrambled to their feet and he began to teach from the Word of God about the importance for missionaries to both know it and rely upon it.

I am tempted to call him a modern-day Paul, yet given the current wave of exposed sin among celebrity leaders within the body of Christ, I should probably point out that this is not an endorsement of Mel Tari beyond what I saw and heard him teach that night. I am passionate about the Word of God. That being said 1 Cor 2: 14-15 is clear. Do we serve a supernatural God who expresses His love, power, and sovereignty through giftings in His people today? Most definitely!  Are fake signs and wonders rampant today? Most definitely! No one counterfeits a counterfeit. Bottom line; there is no room for the real if we are satisfied with the counterfeit.  The problem as I see it is that amidst a shift from dead legalism to renewed spiritual authenticity sparked by the Jesus People movement in the ’60s and ’70s, at least two generations inadvertently ended up with an epistemology based on emotion, experience, and appearance instead of scripture.

Epistemology Matters

Instead of calling a spade a spade like Mel Tari we pretended the fake was real. Instead of raising Bereans who tested everything and based truth on the inherency of scripture regardless of how it feels, we gave our children a post-modern poetic license to “have it your way” provided no one’s feelings get hurt. Our failure to teach truth has produced a celebrity pastor-driven trans-truth that soothes itching ears where everyone is confused.  Today Christians either  condone or quietly recoil from what society has has become all the while denying the church’s complicity in leading our children straight down the path of Romans 1:18-32.

Sin is a path not an event. 

Celebrity Sausage.

Ordinarily, I would have been surprised when I happened upon BiteLabs.org a company that has been in business since 2014. But I’d already heard Bill Gates say that everyone should shift to eating synthetic meat as a means of fighting climate change.

In their own words, Bite Labs plans to,

“start with top-quality ingredients and time-honored recipes for the creation of fine cured meats. We mix celebrity and animal meats, grown in the house through a proprietary culturing process, into curated salami blends. Starting with biopsied myoblast cells, we grow our healthy, rich, meats in Bite Labs’ own bioreactors. Our process yields high-quality, luxury protein, in a sustainable manner that eliminates the environmental and ethical concerns associated with traditional livestock production.”

No, it’s not the Onion or the Babylon Bee.

While I don’t think they are cleared to produce human meat for your consumption just yet. The point is they are seriously trying and are thus far mostly unopposed by the public at large. 

Science fiction buffs over 50 might remember the 1973 film Soylent Green set in a future NYC in 2022.

“Soylent Green is people!!!”

The seeds of the past seem to be germinating everywhere today.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a book written by a Marxist Brazilian educator named Paulo Freire in 1968.  For some reason, I still have a clear mental picture of it sitting on my parent’s bookshelf.  I was maybe 8 at the time and never gave it a second look.  That such an obscure memory is still fresh in my mind seems weird enough. It’s even weirder because my dad was a mechanical engineer for the military-industrial complex who worked on nuclear submarines and other top-secret projects during the Cold War.

Back then an imminent Soviet nuclear holocaust was almost as scary as COVID is today.

In 1963 FBI agent Cleon Skousen presented a 45 point American Communist party plan to congress. In the decades that followed the best conservative minds in America went into government, law enforcement, and the military to fight the emerging communist threat. 

“Better dead than red!” they used to say.

Meanwhile, as Mary Graber explains, in Bill Ayers: Teaching Revolution real communists suspended their bomb-building and assassination plots and set their sights on the nation’s youth. Education became their primary field of battle.  Bill Ayers focused on school curriculums. Of course, education would also be important when they took control of the government because millions of Americans would need to be placed in reeducation camps in the southwest. Interestingly, the Weather Underground whom Bill Ayers was a founding member, estimated that approximately 25 million Americans would cling to capitalist ideals, and would subsequently need to be killed. As I explained in my previous post. Critical Race Theory and all its Social Justice stepchildren invaded academia, culture, the church, and now government in that order and is nothing more than rebranded Marxism dressed in a suit of pseudo compassion.

For the record, I am going to beat that horse until it turns to dust or I do.

Jesus said,

“For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.” Luke 16:8

We Christians are supposed to be wise as serpents.  Too often we are dumber than doves.

In related news, California is scheduled to vote on a statewide proposed Ethnic Studies Curriculum that calls for the “decolonization” of American society and includes having students chant to the Aztec god of human sacrifice asking for “a revolutionary spirit” and the power to become warriors for social justice.

Will it pass? Who knows? As in the case of Celebrity Sausage, the mere fact that it is being seriously considered should be enough to qualify as a serious concern.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that this Ethnic Studies Curriculum, is based on the book  “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” and instructs students to “challenge racist, bigoted, discriminatory, imperialist, colonial beliefs” and critique “white supremacy, racism and other forms of power and oppression.”

One of the program chairs R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, labels the United States a “Eurocentric, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal, heteropatriarchal, and anthropocentric paradigm brought from Europe.”

The programers assert that whites began by “grabbing the land,” “hatching hierarchies,” and “developing for whiteness”.  This resulted in “excess wealth” that “became the basis for the capitalist economy” and subjected minorities to “domestication” and “zombification.”  White Christians committed “genocide” against indigenous tribes, destroyed their gods, and replaced them with Christianity.

If the curriculum is passed 10,000 public schools, serving 6 million children will be taught to “name, speak to, resist, and transform the hegemonic Eurocentric neocolonial condition” and engage in “transformational resistance” that includes a final solution of…

“Counter genocide” against whites.

Obviously, there is some truth to claims regarding ancestral sins. Isaiah was clear in chapter 64 and Paul quoted Isaiah in Romans chapter 3.

No one is righteous. Not one.

That’s why Jesus came.

That Mat 24:7 ethnos versus ethnos has been a recurring motif since Cain killed Able is a no-brainer. While Cain is ironically the originator of the victim stance that drives today’s CRT and intersectionality, ethnos against ethnos is not a systemic issue. It is a sin issue. That said the problem with Critical Race Theory is not so much in its identification of relational errors and exposure of ancestral sin but in its eternalizing them for the sake of retribution, reparations, and power. Mostly it’s power. They call this justice. The insistence that Western civilization and culture ARE its previous sins is a strawman. Critical Race Theorists ignore positive contributions while framing the sins of “yesterday” as the existential realities of “today” on computers and smart devices invented by those whom they despise. That every past sin committed by so-called white European males was done in the name of Jesus or in any way reflects His teachings is at best a false equivalency. 

Of course, we could just quote Solomon and say there is nothing new under the sun. All of this has been said and done before. But that would be another false equality because that same truth applies to Y2K and the Holocaust. The fact is that false hermeneutics and 2 Tim 4 ear-tickling teachings are more rampant today than at any other point in my lifetime and maybe even since the Gnostics threatened to subvert the gospel.  Think I’m exaggerating? I just listened to an ordained, previously orthodox minister of the gospel with 132K followers on Tik Tok explain that Jesus was a racist who was corrected by a Syrophoenician woman when she spoke truth to power in Mark chapter 7.

If you can not explain why his interpretation is utter heresy then you are among those to whom I had in mind to help when I began this particular rant.  That’s ok. It’s not your fault. Message me and I’ll be happy to explain the error along with why challenging it may one day get you thrown in prison or worse.

Paul was clear that all who desire to live godly will be persecuted. 2 Tim 3:12. It is my opinion that contemporary western culture is on the verge of experiencing persecution in ways that most still do not believe are possible. Yet anyone alive today who survived a Marxist regime will not hesitate to tell you that it is not only possible, it is now almost inevitable.

Even so,

If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. Rev 13:10

No this is not a political post, a mark of the beast freak-out post, or even a rallying cry to oppose evil.  Not because I don’t think people should but because it’s probably too late. This is just a Mat 24:6 “see that you are not alarmed”  weather report, a “hey guys I see a storm brewing from my proverbial perch on the wall” fig tree rant.  Mostly this is a call for true Christians to 2 Tim 2:15 study themselves approved so they can rightly divide the word of truth if and when the Bible goes down the neo-Marxist deconstruction toilet with Dr. Sues and the Potato heads. Therin lies another dead horse that I will continue to beat. We need to prepare.  Richard Wurmbrand memorized 365 verses countering fear, one for each day of the year in anticipation of the Russian Communists taking control of Romania long before they invaded. Little did he know he would need every one of those verses fourteen times over. We’ve ministered in Romania.  Our friends there are very concerned about the future of the USA.  And while there is a prideful part of me that sometimes fantasizes about looking my mockers in the eye, and saying “I told you so.” when the events in the Olivet Discourse become undeniably real. In truth, it’s because I know the greatest revival the world has ever seen will also take place during this time. ( Joel 2) Even so, I hope that someone takes what I write to heart now, turns to Jesus, and repents before it is too late.  Time is short. Make no mistake,

There is a divinely appointed future point in time called “TOO LATE”.

Maranatha

God Chose Joe Biden

Now take a deep breath.

As reluctant as I am to risk sounding overly dramatic there are a few things I need to say here for the sake of context.  Since coming on the mission field, we have seen people shot and killed, run over by trucks, hacked to death with machetes, and children abused in ways I won’t mention. We have seen normalized poverty and suffering beyond anything most Americans can imagine. We have come to understand that suffering is and always has been the norm for most of the world. For the record, if you have the ability to read this then you are part of the less than 1%.

We have stared down the barrels of M-16s certain we were going to die. We have been present when an AK-47 was about to be unloaded on a crowd then miraculously broke in half before it could be fired. We ministered in the Amazon basin to Huaorani who had recently killed 19 Teromanane because they had kidnapped three Huaorani children and smashed the skulls of others on trees, then watched God orchestrate a miraculous reconciliation when a blood bath should have been the norm.  We’ve been surrounded by spear-wielding Shuar tribesmen at a roadblock. “Oh God no!” Oh please Jesus no!” our drivers exclaimed. Once again we were sure we were going to die only to be saved because our driver had recently introduced their chief to Christ. 

We trusted God and chose not to flee when it looked like Honduras was descending into civil war.

We did the same when Covid began, borders closed and the US state department said the last emergency evacuation flights were departing. We did the same when Eta hit and again during Iota. Once again we nearly died and were delivered instead. We lost everything we owned and became homeless then found the greatest blessing in that loss. We gave up careers, family, and prosperous life in Hawaii that most people only dream of because we endeavored to follow Jesus’s command to forsake all we owned, pick up our cross and follow him.

In the midst of all this, we have found the tribulation of Rom 5:1-5 and the patience of James 1:1-4  to be vital to understanding the word of God and God’s ultimate plan. We have walked all of this out in the context of Prov 3:5-6. We have had zero income for over four years yet God provides exactly what we need to survive just as He does for the birds of the air.  He guides us to whom we should serve and provides for them too.

The proverbial midnight hour is His favorite time to come through.

Contrary to the “name it and claim it” in the 1st world church, we have learned that the purpose of prayer is for us to align with God’s will – not His will with ours. We have learned that His will is best even when it seems to fail in our eyes and external circumstances appear tragic. We have learned that His will has little if anything to do with our comfort in this life. Any prosperity is always incidental to His purpose. Today we own almost nothing and we are more grateful than ever.  Still, when we look at the suffering that surrounds us we feel powerless, greedy, and spoiled.

We have it too easy.  We have too much.

We have learned that the Christian walk is NOT about our being blessed. Rather it is a stripping away of the desire to be blessed.  It is a burning up of all the fluff, our silly significance, our image, our performances, facades, and narcissism to reveal the body of death that hangs around all of our necks for which God gave His only begotten Son. 

We have come to understand that our life is not about OUR identity.

It’s about His.

Today we look at ourselves in the mirror and see that much dross remains, much that needs to be stripped, much in us that still needs to die. Being on the mission field just makes it easier to remember the reflection we saw after we walk away. We understand that this makes zero sense to those who presume to teach and promise Justice or Heaven on earth now. Ironically we have friends whom we love and who insist on preaching the very things we have already obediently rejected. The mere fact that we are alive today is a testimony of Jesus.

Still, I’m always a little afraid that people will read what I write, and get caught up in the drama of the tale, and focus on the deeds of man rather than the deliverance of God. Therefore I am compelled to remind you that I am a true off-scouring of all things, the guy who was delivered from 20 years of addiction amidst a suicidal charge at a man with a shotgun because I didn’t have the guts to do it myself. I abandoned my kids and came to know Jesus during a 5-year prison stint. I am the very definition of a weakling and loser.

I can’t even take credit for surrendering to Jesus because I was apprehended by Him.

I needed to write this in order to give context to the hard things I am about to say.

Many Christians placed their faith and hope in politics and the reelection of Donald Trump. For the record, I wanted him to be reelected and there was a part of me that wanted to believe the myriad Trump prophesies that guaranteed it. Not because I am a Trumpophile who believed he was a Cyrus like savior. I simply looked at his policies aside from his tweets and media spin. His policies supported biblically sound Christianity. That sounds honorable enough; right? Yet if I am brutally honest it’s because Trump’s policies made my life easier.

Biden’s policies Do Not.

While the “Trump prophets” spoke with convincing authority and conviction and people we love sent us video after video of them,  I had serious doubts because what God was supposedly saying to His alleged prophets wasn’t lining up with what God had already said in the bible.  

Amos 3:7 was foundational for those who wanted to believe in a prophetically declared Trump second term.

“For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”

Ironically the book of Amos tells the story of Israel falling into idolatry and hypocrisy during a time of political stability and prosperity. 

Sound familiar?

And God said,

“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps, I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters…” Amos 5:21-24

Paul acknowledged a gift of prophecy for comforting, encouraging, and exhorting. Yes, I am aware of Eph 4:11. However, I remain thoroughly unconvinced that an official office of Apostle and Prophet are valid today. We know a tree by its fruit. Many Trump prophecy adherents became obsessed and angry to the point of threatening violence toward those who would dare to question “God’s Prophets” and even the prophets themselves when they repented. Jeremiah Johnson received multiple death threats after he repented. That said, there are true biblical prophecies that have been fulfilled and whose accuracy is historically verified. Many still remain. However, nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to submit ourselves to the authority of a contemporary prophet.

Rev 19:10 seems clear

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Jesus and Paul warned about a coming multitude of false prophets. What so many fail to realize is that we are not commanded to be seers and followers of seers. We are commanded to STUDY. Therefore a good rule of thumb is

The times NEVER determine truth. Rather the Truth illuminates the times.

While there is no doubt that Donald Trump was elected according to God’s will in 2016, the same biblical principle applies to the election of Joe Biden in 2020. Do I like it? No. But at the end of the day, it is God who establishes Kings.  Nothing on earth happens that He doesn’t cause or allow.

To say otherwise is to invalidate the sovereignty of God.

Any despondency on the part of Christians now is a result of unmet expectations, and in many cases, because they asked amiss James 4:2-4. They definitely failed to understand the times.  Jesus warned about this.  Interestingly He was rebuking the Pharisees  when he  declared “a wicked and perverse generation seeks after a sign.” Later in the same chapter, He warns about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees who in addition to being the religious leaders of the day were also opposing political factions.  This is worthy of reflection in the context of those seeking after the myriad politically leavened Trump prophecies that have so damaged the witness of Christians today.

Bullwinkle and a contemporary seven sons of Sceva offered a prayer to their heavenly Father from the capital floor.

Am I saying that Christians should not be involved in politics? Of course not. I am saying the inane politicization of our faith rooted in bad exegesis and wrong eschatology has resulted in absurd alignments with controlled opposition like Qanon and other false prophetic movements. These may now be used as criteria for our identification and vilification possibly followed by our nullification and destruction.  That is exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews and Communists did to Christians during the previous century. 

Today we have friends and family along with as much as half of America that genuinely believes that white supremacy, Qanon, Proud Boys, Neo-Nazis, and Donald Trump, are true representations of Christianity. Now the media is selling people on the idea that the political left has the moral high ground and that Joe Biden and his WOKE neo-Marxist entourage will bring moral correction to white cisgender male-dominated alt-right Christian extremists.  And don’t try to change their minds. 

They’ve seen it in the news.

Replacement theology holds that the Jewish people broke their covenant with God when they crucified Jesus and therefore were rejected by Him. The church became the new Israel, and Christians, not Jews became God’s new chosen people. Its seeds were probably sown in Germany after the Protestant Reformation When Martin Luther copped a resentment and wrote “Set fire to their synagogues or schools, ”. Of course, he also chastised the Catholic church for its mistreatment of Jews. So who knows? Regardless of who started it, many Christians are unwittingly impacted by a false ethnocentric and contemporary nationalistic view of scripture. 

They mistakenly if not unconsciously correlate end-time prophecies about Israel with the USA. 

All other errors that result from the politicization of Christianity flow from there. Any belief that holds God’s ultimate plan to be about the USA, conservatism, and patriotism is just as aberrant as those who believe Jesus was a social justice warrior who came to oppose an economic and political system on behalf of minorities.

He came to conquer sin and death.

Let’s get something straight.

Replacement Theology is antisemitic and was the basis for Nazi theology.  The Nazis were not Christian. They were occultists masquerading as Christians in order to leverage the political influence of the church. Bad exegesis and eschatology on the part of believers permitted it. It is questionable whether the Nazis would have come to power all had there been enough biblically sound Christians making disciples. There Jesus covered this in Mat 7:21-23.  Still, there were true Christians amidst the Nazis like Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom, and Oskar Schindler to name a few.  In addition to 6 million Jews, there were countless other Christians numbered among the additional 5 million non-Jewish misfits that perished in Nazi concentration camps.  Interestingly one major attraction of the Nazi version of replacement theology was the promise of a “make Germany great again” type of blessing and prosperity under a human savior in accordance with Rom 13. Please do not misunderstand. 

I am not saying that Trump or Pro-Trump Christians are Nazis, or that simply loving one’s country makes one a Nazi. 

I am saying many are oblivious to the roots of the current exegetic and prophetic apostasy and the appearance of evil that the Bible commands us to avoid.

Lots of people and groups claim to be Christian today. But going to church and claiming to be a Christian do not in themselves make one a Christian. Many people exalted Trump as a prophesied “man of prayer”.  Still, we know a tree by its fruit provided we are willing to honestly look at the fruit. I have no doubt that Trump grew in his walk with Christ since 2016. Still,

Donald Trump is at best a baby born again believer.

Today the media is promoting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as devout Christians.

Yet the criteria for being Christian is determined by Jesus and the correct application of the words written in the Bible not its counterfeits, detractors, and abusers. Trump supported Christianity by supporting his Christian base, but Trump rarely talked or behaved like a Christian let alone a prophesied “man of prayer”. While Christians hung on every word that might be correlated with the Bible and held him up as America’s MAGA savior, Trump himself said that he’s never asked for forgiveness. That’s kind of important. Now a devout Joe Biden is financing global abortion and promoting transgenderism to name a few. It doesn’t matter if it’s a neo-Nazi, a neo-Marxists, a WOKE Christian, a modern-day Pharisee, a uni party Rebublicrat misrepresenting God for political gain, or a false for-profit prophet claiming God said things He never said. 

Any position or TEACHING that violates scripture is false and represents the same spirit of anti-Christ that blinds the world.

Rick Joyner is notorious for the prophetic. We’ve always liked him because he tended to look inward regarding things that need to change. Unfortunately, he bit the “Trump is God’s anointed” bait hard, went off the proverbial Richter, and started talking about a coming civil war led by veterans and members of law enforcement. That narrative resulted in the moderate left freaking out and an open door for extreme left opportunists like John Brennan.

No, the gun is not real. Someone photoshopped it in.  The point is that Joyner set himself up to be set up.

Recently Rick Joyner publicly repented.  Now he is saying that God told him Trump lost because America and especially God’s people did not turn from their 2 Chron 7:14 wicked ways. I didn’t need a prophetic word for that to make perfect sense to me.

2 Chron 7:14 has always applied to God’s people even though we consistently apply it to everyone but ourselves.

Ron Cantor said God told him in September that Joe Biden would win. He said the Lord told him that while His original plan was for Trump to serve two terms and that Trump supporters would ultimately provoke Trump to become more like Jesus,

Trump supporters became more like Trump.

The odds of flipping a coin to determine whether a politician will win or lose are 50/50 from the start. Those are better odds than day trading stocks where the odds begin at 33 1/3. In any case, guessing looks like prophecy or brilliance when you are right. If that sounds complicated the Bible simplifies it even more.  Deuteronomy 28 says if a prophet says “God said” and what he says does not come to pass then God didn’t say it. Do not listen to them.

We have a wagon load of false prophecy today. 

1 John 4:1 says Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Part of that testing involves discerning who is being glorified.  Is Jesus being lifted up or is someone else?  Are we more fascinated with the prophets we chase from meeting to meeting and conference to conference always in search of yet another feel-good word for or about ourselves?  We must ask ourselves, “am I really praying “Thy will be done”?  Or do I believe what I hear because they say what I want to hear?

Answering that requires some deep and potentialy uncomfortable honesty.

Today the Church has the false WOKE gospel with its neo-Marxist roots that make Jesus into an earthly political revolutionary. Most Christians don’t know it exists let alone its insidiousness. On the other hand, racism does exist. But instead of addressing it as an individual sin we have institutionalized it and are teaching a racially divided interpretation of the Gospel in direct opposition to Gal 3:28-29 and 2 Cor 5:16-19.

We are to regard no one after the flesh.

We have cheered the bombing of innocent people to hell in the name of American interests. We abhor our children are being offered up to Moloch in the name of women’s health but only a relative few do so in public. Instead of repenting, we are now moving to kill babies outside the womb. Meanwhile professing Christians and even pastors are giving their consent.  We are perverting the Imago Dei by sexualizing children, normalizing paraphilias, and following the exact path of reprobates that Paul described in Rom 1:18-32. Our silence guards our comfort.  

The Body of Christ is more divided than ever and our children are deconstructing in droves. Why? Because we taught them to idolize their IDENTITY rather than worship the sovereign God.  We have Interfaith, Chrislam, and the Perenialism of Oprah and Richard Rohr masquerading as the true gospel. We have the fake prosperity gospel and NAR pastors signing off on practices as insane as grave sucking and canceling racism by the authority of Gandalf. We have the Vatican siding with globalists, validating the New Age and denying the existence of Hell.  We have mega churches and billionaire pastors who rail against homosexuality while world-renowned ministers and heads of Christian Universities are living in sexual sin until they are caught and in some cases until they die. Many embrace the message that because Abraham was wealthy it is God’s will to make them wealthy while ignoring the words of Ezekiel.

“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

Finally, we have political prophets and the Qanon movement that promised a Storm that would culminate in a 3rd Great Awakening (a.k.a.. revival) ushered in by Donald Trump and led by John F Kennedy Jr. who is still alive.

It doesn’t matter if you can look at that list above and say “well none of that applies to me.” That’s not the point.  When God judges a nation he judges a body not just one part.

Ironically the aforementioned sins are the exact ones for which God sent Israel into bondage. That so many continue to proclaim Trump will still be President in 2021 as if he were a messiah and the USA were the fulfillment of the gospel of the Kingdom is the very reason why the left correlates Christians with Nazis, atheists call us crazy, people fall away, and God may have removed His hand from the USA.

I’m ok with being persecuted for righteousness’s sake but not stupidity.

Apart from the Jewish people, the Bible is clear that God has no national preferences Rom 2:11-16 Acts 10:34-35.  Granted some administrations and citizenry have been decidedly more Christian and God-fearing than others. Still, the fact remains that Jesus was not an American and the bible does not mention the USA.

Not even once.

The biblical story in a nutshell is God’s plan to redeem ALL of His fallen creation. That said, the story of His current emerging earthly government begins in Genesis with Jacob and ends in Revelation with the restoration of Israel and Jesus on the throne in Jerusalem. There’s a whole lot of tribulation in the interim. While it is the primary responsibility of the Church to preach the gospel of Salvation and the Kingdom with the hope of provoking the Jewish people to jealousy, the culmination of the kingdom story always was and always will be first and foremost about the Jewish people. The most significant final events will play out in Israel and the surrounding nations,- not the USA. 

Any other eschatological view will always result in some form of apostasy.

Listen, I love my country too. But the USA is not the center of HIS-story.  Many people point to Trump’s support of Israel as a reason why God put him in. However, as I will show in upcoming posts a sound scriptural argument can be made for a second Trump term being an impediment to God’s stated plan. It is a plan that gives a lot more reason to be hopeful than a little old MAGA plan.  Bottom line, nothing happens that God does not cause or allow. 

There is a part of me that genuinely grieves for those who are feeling so lost and confused and even in denial. But then the best thing I can do is to refer them to the first few paragraphs of this blog. “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Not Prosperity.

Joe Biden is President. 

Kamala Harris is next line followed by Nancy Pelosi, Patrick Leahy, then Antony Blinken if something happens to him.

Things will become more clear when we stop asking “Why?” and start asking  “What?”

Jesus was extremely clear in answering the disciple’s question regarding what would be the signs of His coming and the end of the age?

Stay tuned for the outline in part 2

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

Truth or Trump?

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.

Don’t be a Squirrel

Postmodern Theism 1

Incoherence

I often wonder about Malchus, the servant of Caiaphas whose ear Peter cut off and Jesus subsequently healed before He was taken away to be tortured and crucified. The bible doesn’t tell us but I imagine his world view was similar to those of most people today in that he lived his life according to the consensus in which he was born and was taught, never questioning the foundations of what he assumed to be true.

That said, Houston – we have a truth problem…

We could be talking about COVID, vaccines, gender, climate change, political candidates, or the existence of God. 

It seems that hardly anyone has a coherent epistemology. 

Epistemology is the study of truth, specifically how we determine what is true. Coherence means that all the parts of a truth claim fit together so that it makes sense within the context of a given paradigm or world view.  For example, a coherent statement in the context of physics would be that if I jump off a building I am going to fall down to the ground every time. 

An incoherent claim would be, I feel like some people can fall up.

Slothful Induction and the Bandwagon fallacy are the primary drivers of collective incoherence.  Slothful Induction; is ignoring sufficient logical evidence that supports further questioning and investigation

This is usually accompanied by the bandwagon fallacy where people assume that a narrative is true simply because an apparent majority of people say it is true.

Slothful Induction results in valid questions becoming slippery slope conclusions.

A “slippery slope” is where a person asserts that one small factor or event necessarily leads to or proves a succeeding chain of larger events that culminate in a specific conclusion.

For example. Derek Chauvin was a white cop whose actions resulted in the death of George Floyd who was black. The instantaneous collective slippery slope conclusion was that Derek Chauvin premeditatedly murdered George Floyd because he was black. The court determined that Cauvin murdered Floyd.

It did not determine his motive. 

The slippery slope determined it.

This gave way to more slippery slopes.

Questions taken as conclusions are perpetuated by the False Dilemma Fallacy; only looking at one side and never considering alternative arguments.

The tidal wave of unsubstantiated conclusions causes most people to defer to the “genetic fallacy”; believing an argument based on one’s faith in the source rather than the evidence itself. e.g. “the majority of scientists agree…” Or a similar “appeal to authority”; a form of circular reasoning that determines the validity of a fact or an argument based upon the official status of its source e.g. “The government would never lie to us.”

Why?

Because they are the government.

We might laugh when it is presented this way but almost everyone has been guilty of sourcing “experts” and the ubiquitous “they” when arguing on behalf of our biases. Nearly every MSM narrative, subsequent debate, and public discourse are rooted in the aforementioned fallacies. Too often the result is that legitimate questions and questioners get marginalized and the truth gets squashed.

That’s because more than anything, people fear rejection and crave acceptance.

We call this “relationship”.

The subject of COVID and vaccines are good examples of logical fallacies in action.

Why is a virus with a 99.7% survival rate for those under the age of 78 an emergency and malaria that kills far more not?  What about bad water and starvation? Why is the reimbursement so much higher when COVID is listed on a death certificate? Why do we need an emergency use authorization for a vaccine that is proven safe? Why do all other vaccines require a 5-year study before they are declared safe? Are these vaccines or experimental gene therapies? If the “vaccines” are proven safe as so many media consumers claim, then why aren’t they formally approved by the FDA?  Why is the overall mortality rate for all causes combined virtually unchanged between 2018-2020? Shouldn’t 2020 be much higher? And what happened to the flu? Mind you I’m not trying to debate COVID and vaccines. I still don’t know what is true. My point is that no one reading this knows either.

Hence, the only correct answer is;

We don’t know.

In fact, we can not claim to know the truth about much of anything apart from faith in at least one foundational and ultimately unprovable presupposition.

Don’t believe me? 

Try empirically proving that everything you experience doesn’t only take place in the space between your ears.

Your best conclusion will mimic that of Laozi the Chinese founder of Taoism who upon waking from a dream about a butterfly wrote that he wasn’t sure if he was a man dreaming of a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man dreaming of a butterfly. Apparently, Laozi was going to commit suicide but his friends talked him into deferring his plans to write the book of wisdom known as the Tao Te Ching. Tao means “Way”. It begins with “The way that can be named is not the eternal way…”

Today some theoretical physicists believe the universe is a giant computer program. 

But I’m crazy for believing Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life

The point here is that all of our basic presuppositions concerning truth are based on something we have read, heard, or seen in some form of visual media. These presuppositions form the basis for our worldviews. 

Worldviews do not change unless the presuppositions change

That people form opinions based on presuppositions rooted in logical fallacies and make decisions in daily life is bad enough. That 94% of those in the body of Christ apply the same reasoning to their understanding of God and eternity is, in my opinion,

more concerning.

Those born after 1979 when the Postmodernism of Jean-François Lyotard entered academic thought are often unaware that the very definition of truth that we used to take for granted and called “common sense”  began to morph into the absurdities we see today.

Today the church is applying the same epistemological criteria.

Don’t be glad or mad.. More on this in part 2

Postmodernism regards objective truth if it exists at all, as unknowable. In practice, all truth claims are relative. Postmodernists often argue as if their truth claims were objective.  Yet like a house built on sand Mat 7:24-27 they have no basis in anything other than group consensus.

Christianity maintains that while many objective truths remain unknowable, objective truth exists.

It is our privilege to search in out. Prov 25:2

I would go so far as to say it is an act of worship.

While the church has always contended with nonessential unknowns such as the role of free will in salvation; and is hell really hot? Today the church is debating and dividing over more foundational issues like the inerrancy of scripture, “What is sin?”, Is Jesus God? “Why did Jesus come?” and 

“Does hell even exist?”

Why is this happening?  Because much of what the church calls truth is rooted in experiential hermeneutics instead of

coherent exegesis.

Coherent exegesis begins with the presupposition that “All scripture is God-breathed…” 2Tim 3:16-17. It is therefore inerrant. Coherence refers to the fact that scripture does not contradict itself.  Any apparent contradictions or inconsistencies are assumed to exist in the realm of our understanding, not scripture itself.  Atheists often point to discrepancies in scripture. Yet they can only do so according to their worldview which amounts to their view of our worldview. Their arguments remain incoherent in the context of the Christian worldview which is admittedly based on faith in God according to His word.

By the same token faith in God is incoherent according to a world view that says God does not exist and the truth is determined by us. 

All arguments become incoherent in the context of an opposing worldview.

Here is my challenge to you between now and part 2. Step aside from the usual rhetoric, both your own and that of the group with whom you share a consensus. Ask yourself these questions.  What are the foundational presuppositions of my worldview? Have I ever taken to the time to think them through or are they simply the result of where and how I was raised. Are my presuppositions postmodern and relative based what I see, hear and feel? Or are they objectively rooted in the Word of God?  What does my life most reflect?

Is it an incoherent mix of the two?

What can be said? What will it take?

Malchus is a clue to Part 2

Maranatha

From What Am I Saved?

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

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

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

The root is…

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

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

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

Self-centeredness was born.

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

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

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

“How could a loving God allow_____?”

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

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

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

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

By His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

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

How does that work?

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

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

Today people hate Him because of the original sentence.

As for the suffering endured by believers…

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

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

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Mat 7:13-14

That word “narrow” means “with persecutions”.

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

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

Anything else is a counterfeit Christianity.

Unfortunately, 94% of Americans prefer the counterfeit .

Maranatha

Jesus King of Worms

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

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

“King of the Worms”.

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

Cathy teaching indigenous missionary students in the Ecuadoran Amazon basin.

When I say small, I mean small.

Kermes vermilio

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

Why does this matter? 

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

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

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

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

According to Henry Morris,

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

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

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

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

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

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

May you be a King.

MARANATHA

To Laugh or To Mourn

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

That ought to tell you something! 

Amirite?

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

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

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

Still context matters.

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

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

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

Point missed entirely. 

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

There’s a lot of confusion.

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

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

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

Psalm 119:66-72

Maranatha.

The God of This and That

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

-Heidi Baker-

We’ve been full-time missionaries in Honduras for 4 years now.  October will mark 5 years since we left Hawaii for IRIS Global Harvest School of Missions in Mozambique the cost of which remains the only outstanding debt that we owe.  That’s ironic because the longer I am on the mission field the more I realize how priceless that experience was.  And while we had a graduation ceremony, I am increasingly aware that I have yet to graduate. 

I suspect that is by design. 

While Rolland and Heidi Baker both hold Ph.Ds in Theology, they never formally taught on that subject. When we arrived we were greeted with,

“A lot of you came here to learn how to do missions.  The truth is you came here to die.”

I have often wondered about that and it occurs to me that we’d probably have something called Bakerism today with Bakerists  arguing with other “ists” over other “isms” had the school tried to condense the sovereign will of God into a university-style syllabus.  Instead, we began and ended with the idea that missions flow from intimacy with, and dependency on Jesus.  The implication was that intimacy must be sought.

It can not be humanly imparted or taught.  

There was also an underlying motif regarding the inseparable connection between intimacy with God and suffering. This seems counter-intuitive when you consider the theological streams where the Bakers are most often embraced and those that reject them. Whatever you may think about them, the fact remains that the revival that so many crave was birthed out of suffering in Mozambique and has been the norm for the better part of two decades. Until recently most of this suffering was the direct result of storms, flooding and resulting famine. As of this writing, people have been beheaded in a village where we did an outreach. Untold numbers have been shot. Tens of thousands are fleeing radical Islamists who have created yet another internal refugee crisis. We are praying for Mozambique and expect more revival.

The rest of the church would do well to observe and learn while it prays.

That’s not to say there wasn’t any teaching.  There was a whole range of teachings from various celebrity pulpits from around the world that may or may not have been endorsed by the staff.  As for the Bakers themselves,  Heidi modeled more than taught and always emphasized that “love looks like something.” She would occasionally give a hermeneutic on a specific passage of scripture like Jesus’s approach to the woman at the well as a model of her trademark “low and slow” “honor those we serve” approach to missions.  Rolland was more the mystic and taught like Miyagi from The Karate Kid. His lectures resembled a cross between a stand-up comedy act and a Zen Koan possibly designed to leave people scratching their heads for years. He would lob one-liners like hand grenades into the crowd and then giggle as student brows collectively knit together.  

“Ah yes, pray the money in they say”.  “Well…hehehe what if God says no?” 

“Lots of people argue about what God is or isn’t.” He’s a God of this.” “No he’s a God of that.”  They say. “Well what if He’s a God of this and that?”.

He’d talk about miracles and missionary tales but mostly about the miracle giver in a way that sounded like a Song of Solomon 2.0. It definitely made the “macho” in me squirm. Then he’d run around the pavilion shouting “BOOF!”, pretending to shoot people with his microphone while hundreds of twenty-somethings fell down consumed with what I viewed as sheer bandwagon fallacy laughter. I wasn’t having it. I was mad.  I’d come here to learn how to do missions not act like a stupid drunk kid.  I remember Rolland paused and looked at me for a moment before deciding to forgo the “Boof”. My offense immediately melted into a conviction that I had failed the “become as a little child test”. I then experienced the rejection of a little child deemed unworthy of the “Boof”. Mission accomplished. I know it sounds silly.  But God has different ways of tearing our old wineskins apart and causing old wine to flow like blood and more often tears on the floor. I have since learned that silly is often an easier path through ears and into hearts than are hardcore theological arguments.  That is not to say that theological correctness isn’t important. It most certainly is.  Anyway, Heidi addressed getting knocked down in a later session, “If you don’t get knocked down, just get down.” she said.

Turns out – nothing quenches Holy Spirit so much as pride.

Those who regularly read my blogs may have detected that I am always repenting and reforming as I am being conformed. I am fully aware that I will always know in part and see in a glass darkly until the perfect comes and I am known as I am fully known. Still, I thirst for righteousness and have very little patience for blatant fraud and heresy. I am not a cessationist. Rather I am passionate about “testing everything while holding fast to what is good.” 1 Thess 5:20-21 There are some false theological streams in which some Harvest school graduates are immersed that I find downright scary if for no other reason than they and their disciples are going to melt like snowflakes in a flame amidst the call to endure what is coming. I want to know Him far more than I want anything from Him. I think Rolland and Heidi would agree. That said, If I never see another miracle, sign, or wonder again and it would have absolute zero impact on my faith.

Both Cathy and I experienced full supernatural deliverances when we surrendered to the Lord. We know that we serve a personal God who actively intervenes in His creation according to His sovereign will.  We’ve seen God cast out demons in people and seen tumors disappear. Twice we saw the miraculous replication of food. Once in Honduras when we didn’t ask for it,

and once in Mozambique after Heidi had a group of five-year-olds pray.  We’ve seen cataracts dissolve, deaf ears opened and lame people dance when they previously couldn’t even stand. We’ve been delivered from what should have been sudden death at least three times while on the mission field. Only God knows the actual count. We’ve seen the other side in action as well. Still, most times we don’t see anything happen when we pray.  Some would call that proof of stupidity. 

Others would say we need to grow in faith. Luke 17:6

I just listened to a podcast featuring Dick Brogden.  He told a story of when in his twenties he had fervently and faithfully prayed for a Kenyan woman to be raised from the dead. Suddenly her body jerked upward. “Praise God!” he exclaimed.  Then he realized a particularly large woman had just sat on the end of the stretcher and the leverage had jerked the body upward.  He felt stupid and angry at God and asked the Lord why?  The answer he got was that God would trust him with His power when He could trust him with His glory.  Dick had to admit that if God had raised the woman from the dead he would have written newsletters and given testimony thanking God but also making darn sure that everyone knew that Dick had been heavily involved. I think a lot about that when I write about what we do.  I am absolutely convinced that if anyone is ever raised from the dead when I pray it will be because enough of Brian has died and been flushed away. It will not because of any grandiose growth in my faith.

The miracle of suffering

I recently read about David and Svea Flood a Swedish missionary couple who went to the Congo in 1921. Long story short the village chief prevented them from witnessing to anyone for fearing of angering the village spirits. Only one young boy who was allowed to sell them chicken and eggs heard the gospel. They felt like failures and then lost everything. Svea died, another couple adopted their young daughter Aggie, and David returned to the West where he deconstructed and fell away from the faith. Aggie grew up in South Dakota.  Long story short she eventually learned what had happened in Africa. She did more research and found that the boy to whom her parents had ministered was now a pastor that led his entire village to Christ. At last count, 110,000 people had been baptized as a result of that single seed. Aggie then sought out her 73-year-old birth father who was alcoholic and still very angry with God. He cried when she told him that his efforts had not been in vain. In the end he reconciled with her and with the God of this and that.

So why does God do miracles sometimes and not others? Better yet, why does God do miracles at all?

One reason is for unbelievers to take notice. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” John 4:48 Signs and wonders follow the preaching of the gospel. Mark 16:20.  As for sign chasers,  I always imagine Jesus shaking His head and rolling his eyes just before He performed a miracle.

For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? Mat 9:5

Yet even Jesus could do nothing apart from His Father. John 5:19  Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. John 15:5. It would seem to me that in addition to dying to self,  miracles are contingent upon our alignment with the will of God. True alignment with God looks like people weeping on their faces not men in thousand-dollar suits in celebrity pulpits boldly declaring a self-ordained anointing, power and authority to align God’s will with theirs.

I have a hypothesis.

THIS…

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Mat 7:21-23

Have you ever stopped and really considered that passage?  Better yet, have you ever scrutinized yourself in accordance with those three verses especially in the context of your most treasured assumptions about God?  That passage is in my opinion the scariest one in the entire bible. It is entirely possible to be doing all the right things even supernatural things for all the wrong reasons and not even know it. The remaining question is, “how can I really know if God knows me?” Even more, “do I even want to be known by God, or do I just want a cheap fire insurance policy and freedom from the anxiety that we used to call conviction of sin?”

“…If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” 1 Cor 8:1-2.

That’s encouraging. But then “who loves God?”  I mean – I feel like I do. Still, Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” John 14:15  I just murdered the same guy ten times today, coveted my neighbor’s stuff and committed a host of other sins in my mind. Mat 5-6 Now what? Do I redact the scriptures that make me uncomfortable, find a teacher with a more palatable hermeneutic or face the truth – “oh what a wretched man I am!”? Sigh…I guess I’d better head on back to the old throne of grace and say “sorry”…  Yes, I know my wretchedness is covered by the shed blood of Jesus and that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Rom 8 Of course, I am saved by grace through faith that is not even my own so that I can’t brag about it. Eph 2:8-9 Still, the fact remains that I don’t always obey His commandments. Not only because I can not but because I choose not.  Again, I don’t have self-esteem or identity issues. I’ve heard countless feel-good sermons over the last fifteen years explaining my identity and why I am the righteousness of Christ… The fact remains that Mat 7:21-23 is still there in its unredacted form declaring that not everyone who thinks they are saved and doing the will of God will be saved in the end. Maybe I just need to sing “I am a friend of God” and “Reckless Love” until I believe it.  Or maybe as George Mueller wrote I need the simultaneous recognition of my utter depravity with the grace and miracle covering of the blood of Jesus. Maybe I need a full and realistic view of my filthy rag works and the offscouring of all things that I am in the context of His righteousness in which I am so miraculously clothed. It doesn’t matter that I am a missionary.  Any time I take an honest look at my reflection in the dark glass, the truth of ME strikes Acts 2:43 (Phobos) terror in my heart. It is, I think, a fruit of sincerity in that it produces “a broken and contrite heart that God will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 That in turn yields a return of the joy of His salvation. Psalm 51:12 It results in wisdom Prov 9:10 and genuine life application alignment with God Prov 3:5-8 the verification and validation of which some times but not always, maybe, just might be confirmed by a sign or a wonder.

…and THAT

It was during our first trip to Honduras that I also made my first trip to a third-world dump and saw children eating raw garbage. 

Meanwhile, Cathy went to a river baptism where she and three girls got covered in gold dust. Previous to this I saw a video featuring falling gold dust and people who claimed to awaken with divine dental work in the form of mysterious gold fillings and gold teeth.  All of it sounded ridiculous to me but I kept my mouth shut.  All I knew was that I’d just witnessed the worst, most heart-wrenching poverty I’d ever seen. I told Cathy I felt like I’d been hit upside the head with a cement block. 

Now she was ranting to me about pixy dust on her cheeks?!!

Still, I had to admit it was pretty strange. It disappeared the moment we tried to remove it from her skin but it stayed on the three girls for days.  A picture of them hung on our wall in Hawaii for years.

Pretty soon gold dust testimonies were rampant throughout charismania until some big-name megachurches notorious for hosting “glory clouds” got caught pouring gold glitter into air ducts. 

“Gold dust mold dust. Whatever!” I thought and dismissed the whole thing.

Then I heard a podcast featuring a pastor who claimed to have seen gold dust in his church.  He’d been in Jerusalem praying when a Rabbi approached him to ask what he was doing.  “Why I’m praying for the peace of Jerusalem.” The pastor replied. That sparked the Rabbi’s interest.  Somehow the conversation got around to the subject of gold dust at which point the Rabbi freaked out.  “Gold dust is falling on the gentiles?! Gold dust is falling on the gentiles!!” He exclaimed.  Apparently, somewhere within extra-biblical Jewish literature, there is an expected prophetic sign of the coming of Messiah involving gold dust falling on the gentiles.

Who knew?

The betrothal or engagement period for a Jewish marriage is one year.  During this time the bride and groom do not see each other at all. After the betrothal ceremony, and just before leaving for a year to prepare a home for his future bride, the bridegroom would give her a Matan.  According to the Rabbi, this was traditionally a gift of gold and signified a pledge of his love for her. It was to be a reminder, that he was thinking of her while they were apart and that he would return at the appointed time to receive her as his wife.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Rev 21:2

Suddenly, the absurd didn’t seem quite so absurd. 

Fast forward to Cerro Azul Meambar Honduras last year. It was about a week after our house was destroyed in the landslide. We had the clothes on our backs,  food, and a temporary place to lay our heads but otherwise, we didn’t know what we should do. We knew worse things can and do happen. Still, there is an element of suffering in losing everything you own and finding oneself suddenly homeless in the third world. Should I throw in the towel and go home? Oh shut up, Brian!  Instead of throwing in the towel, we threw ourselves into outreaches to get food, water purifiers, beds, and clothing, etc. to those most in need. It was mostly selfish.

After all the best way to cope when you are hurting is to help someone who is hurting more.

Cathy was sick on the last day and wasn’t with us as we delivered the last bags of rice and beans. The crisis adrenaline was wearing off as we headed back to our vehicle and I started to experience some oh so irrational and unspiritual feelings of lostness as waves of fleshy negativity rushed through my brain.  Was God punishing us?  Was this a warning? “His sheep hear His voice.” Did I not hear Him?  Had I gone against his will by moving here?  Did Mat 7:21-23 apply to me? Shut up Brian! Sure I could acknowledge the theological error cognitively but the emotions remained.

That’s part of being a fallen human on a fallen earth.

The post-hurricane heat and humidity were heavy that day.  Suddenly a cool breeze picked up and blew on my face as the four of us approached our vehicle. We all noticed a small whirlwind of gold dust swirling by the front passenger door where I had previously been sitting. It was more than a little freakish to see gold dust-covering just my side of the car. I’d never seen anything like it. All I can say is that it brought tears to my eyes and I can not describe the completely irrational yet profound sense of relief, assurance, and peace that converged with what I was seeing. It was as if God was inaudibly speaking,

“Don’t worry. I know you.”

Since then Cathy and I have become more eschatologically oriented in our approach to the gospel. Not in a conspiratorial, “the vaccine is the mark of the beast” sort of way as so many seem prone.  But in the sense that the primary task in missions is a participation in the preparation of a spotless bride for a wedding and a wedding feast.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.  

And the angel said  to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev 19:6-10

That preparation includes studying ourselves approved as we are commanded to do. 2 Tim 2:15 so we can be good Acts 17:11 Bereans and avoid being deceived. Mat 24:4 It also involves watching and praying and miracles, healings, signs and wonders. Some are for all the world to see. Others may be very personal. After all, the very first miracle Jesus ever performed was only known by a few. John 2 The preparation of the bride involves knowing the grace, love, and kindness of God. It also involves knowing His severity and coming wrath. It involves blessing and the experience of abundance. It involves suffering, loss and persecution. 2 Tim 3:12

Our God is a God of this and that.

If we are to know Him we must first know about Him through His word. Sorry, but reading books by people who claim to go to heaven and dialogue with the Father everyday instead is not going to cut it. Yet if we only know about Him and never know Him personally then what does it matter if we know about Him at all? Even worse, if I claim to know Him but the things I know contradict what He says about Himself in His word then who is it that I know?  Hence Mat 7:21-23

Yeah, that’s a mind-bender.

As I often explain to atheists when they strive to refute Christianity,  I love my wife.  I can not prove to them that I love my wife. Neither can they prove that I don’t. I know that I know and that’s all there is to it. Intimacy with God works the same. By the same token, I don’t take every intimate interaction with my wife and make a doctrine of marriage out of it. Instead, I look to God’s word and compare myself, my experience and my marriage to His standard. Everything that is true, everything that matters is rooted in the fact that Jesus is the bridegroom and we are His bride. We expectantly await his return in faith with the hope that we will not be found naked Rev 16:15 and or without wedding garments Mat 22:11-14. We do so despite experiences and external circumstances not because of them. Tribulation, suffering, and persecution remain the only real guarantees for us in this age. Still, the promise of our blessed hope remains. Titus 2:13 I’m not about to make a doctrine out of my gold dust experience. And you shouldn’t use it to support or refute those of anyone else. Sound doctrine is derived from scripture alone. Still, if Jesus places His hand on your shoulder in a breeze, lights a bush on fire and speaks to you through it, or gifts you with a gold dust Matan while you wait, that’s great. I recommend receiving it the same way you are called to receive the James 1:1-4  joy of having your faith tested and with a clear understanding of its purpose. Don’t dismiss it, or worse – make it an idol of it as so many do. Just be grateful and receive His peace and the blessed assurance that He knows you. Then get back to the business of knowing Him more through His word, spending time in the secret place with Him so you can more fully obey Him, love Him and become more fully conformed to His image such that He knows you even more. 

In the end you might know this about God.  Others might know about that.  But none of us really know God until we know Him as the God of this and that.

Maranatha

Begin With The End In Mind

“A church that is not eschatologically focused is a negligent culture.” 

Nick Franks

I just finished reading 1 Samuel and all the corresponding Psalms. I find this to be one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible with mentorship being just one underlying theme beginning with that between Samuel and Eli. God used Eli to teach Samuel to discern His voice. Yet Eli’s life was a disaster. Ironically the first message Samuel received from God and was told to proclaim was that Eli and his family would be cut off and that no sacrifice could be offered for forgiveness.

When was the last time you heard a prophetic word like that?

Samuel went on to anoint and mentor Saul and finally David both of whom committed the most abominable sins.  Saul disobeyed God then made excuses to justify his actions. So God rejected him as King. Amazingly, Saul was more concerned with how people viewed him than he was about his status in the eyes of God. 1 Sam 15:30  He had zero interest in God’s ultimate plan beyond his own role in it.

David committed adultery with his friend’s wife then had him killed. His actions were not without consequences but God forgave him because he repented. Even so, a gentle displacement story did not work and David only repented when Nathan confronted him directly. 2 Samuel 12. Later David is mentioned by Paul in Acts 13 as “a man after God’s own heart.” and his faith is acknowledged in the Heb 11 Hall of Faith.

Eli and Saul not so much.

It occurs to me that I have had one or two Eli’s, a couple three David’s, and a whole slew of Saul’s for mentors since I first surrendered to Jesus. All of the Saul’s were gifted and charismatic men who exert tremendous influence over people in Jesus’s name. My immaturity magnetized me to become attached to them. Some were tremendous teachers. Others were gifted in prophecy and healing.  Still, others could raise financial support in ways reminiscent of Moses bringing forth water from a rock. A few of these men behaved in ways that would result in an immediate loss of following and financial support were people to witness what lay just behind the Man of God façade. As is so often case they fell into the trap where their purpose and livelihood became contingent upon their being honored by men rather than God.

That’s a lot of pressure.

More than one of these men was prone to dishonesty, childish, and even violent outbursts when things didn’t go their way. Still, the issue was not the improprieties that can always be forgiven but the prideful refusal to acknowledge the sin and repent. Each time we parted ways. I haven’t heard from any of them since. Though I am told one of them is still periodically asks if I am saying anything bad about him.

David is the model.

I will admit that having my belief and trust violated has at times tempted me to believe that God delivered these men into my hands by exposing them like He delivered  Saul onto David twice. Still, responding like David is my goal and it is not my right let alone my responsibility to expose them to the world. Hence, I will not be naming names. The relevant point that I am working toward is that Saul and all of these contemporary typological Saul’s had zero interest in eschatology. One of them loudly declared,

“Let me tell you something! I don’t give a rip about eschatology!!”

If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 1 Cor 16:22

I’ve written about Maranatha before, the Aramaic word that depending on how it is pronounced means Jesus has come – Jesus is coming. It brackets the Christian life and history as a whole.  All that occurs in the space between is ancillary to the truth maranatha represents. Furthermore, It is utterly impossible to comprehend the Bible and especially the the New Testament apart from an eschatological Maranatha focus.

This past Sunday I gave a message to the children and staff from our alma mater, the City of Refuge. I began with the question, “If you don’t know where you are going how will you get there?” It was a very brief, shoot from the hip outline of history beginning in Gen 3:15 with an emphasis on the origin, meaning and significance of Jesus’s reference to Himself as the Son of man and the culmination of human history in a wedding and the final declaration of victory in Rev 22:17.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

That said, it wasn’t teaching as much as a taste that hopefully inspired some to Acts 17:11 “Bereanhood”. The point that I hope everyone got is that Jesus’s declaration “It is finished!” does not mean everything is fulfilled.  The gospel of the kingdom will only be fulfilled in its entirety upon His return in accordance with Dan 7:13-14, Mat 24:30, Acts 1:11, 1Cor 15:50-58, etc. Until then the primary task at hand is the preparation of a spotless bride, otherwise known as the church. Those with an exclusive focus on “Jesus has come” are usually just selling cheap grace, fire insurance, and the false promise of “your best life now”. The true gospel is at its core future-oriented. Therefore all Christians are called to a solid eschatological orientation.

How do we do that?

We can start by resolving to not reinvent the wheel by repeating all of King Solomon’s lessons in the book of Ecclesiastes.  If you’ve never heard of King Solomon, he was the richest and wisest man in history. He experienced and possessed all the worldly things that a human being possibly could. Not because he was a hedonist. But because he sought the ultimate meaning and purpose of life. His conclusion? Nothing is new. Anything you think is new has already been done. Everything is meaningless including wisdom. But wisdom can save your life. Our only hope, meaning and purpose is to remember our Creator in the days of our youth, love God and keep His commandments.  This is the whole duty of man. 

“If you love me keep my commandments.”

– Jesus –

So what does that look like?

It certainly doesn’t mean a perfect adherence to 613 rules. If you are confused about this stop reading now and go to Eph 2 and Rom 7and 8. The Old Testament proves that fulfilling the law by ourselves is impossible. Jesus’s triumph on the cross frees us from that burden. That said, I submit that

the most concise daily plan for living in preparation for the wedding is outlined in Prov 3:5-8.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

As I explained to the kids, trusting in the Lord with all your heart rather than our own understanding means believing what God’s word says. It is our map. Of course, a map is useless if you don’t know how to read it. Believing means that regardless of how external circumstances look, Jesus not Satan has all authority in heaven and earth.  “It is finished!” means Satan is defeated. Whatever happens today is according to the will of God.  I explained that the devil did not shut the world down last year. God did. I said I believe it was a call to repentance that for the most part went unheeded. Trusting Him with all one’s heart means believing that everything that happens is advancing His kingdom toward its ultimate fulfillment in the eschaton. Rom 8:28 That final destination appears at the coordinates Rev 22:17. Hence Paul said we are to keep our eyes fixed on things above, not below. Col 3 Things above involve God’s plans.

Things below involve ours.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths means not just giving lip service to His majesty but making the pursuit of an intimate relationship with Him our primary focus in every moment.  Intimacy “with” begins with knowledge “of”. This has been our aim in Honduras and we have testimony after testimony of Him guiding our steps and making our paths straight. It’s not that we don’t ever wrestle in our minds. Only that the repetition of this principle over time increasingly overrides our natural thinking especially in a life or death moment of truth. We used the landslide that destroyed our home as an example and explained how it has yielded so much spiritual and relational fruit in our community. I told them how people siphoning gas from our ministry vehicle had caused us to move it down the mountain less than 24 hours before the landslide.  That we have a ministry vehicle at all today is the fruit of stolen gas.

In case you didn’t know “All things” means all things. Rom 8:28

Be not wise in your own eyes; means we should avoid casting ourselves in the role of what Oswald Chambers called an “amateur providence”.  We are never to assume we have it all figured out, that we or anyone else is exclusively anointed to hear from God or that any spiritual gift overrides human frailty. Any ability we may have is contingent on our weakness and total dependence on Jesus apart from whom we can do NO-THING. The gifts may be without repentance. But our constant need for repentance remains.

But that is not a popular message to preach if for no other reason than it would require preachers to forfeit their dreams of pulpit stardom and repent in the presence of their followers. One of the most prophetic moments for me last year was when the previous Vice President sugar-coated 2 Chron 7:14  and omitted “from their wicked ways” during a MAGA rally prayer. That so many leaders fail or refuse to acknowledge the wickedness of our nation and instead declare our supreme righteousness before God is an assurance that we are a nation under God’s judgment.  That so many fail to understand how that could be, is a direct result of negligent church culture. There would be no fake prosperity gospel, CRT, or Qanon Christians if the church was eschatologically focused. If that were the case fear the LORD and turn away from evil” would apply and dominantly so. The fruit of an eschatological focus is always the fear of God. The fear of God births repentance and repentance, a further conformation to the image of Christ.

Acknowledging God means loving God. Loving God begins with learning everything we can about His character, history, ways, and plans to align our lives with Him and His end game.  Not loving God means being obsessed with MY self, MY history, MY opinions, MY ways, and especially MY goals and plans such that I imagine MY goals are his goals instead of making HIS goals mine. While the most blame will be assigned to those who teach, it does not absolve us as individuals of the responsibility to search the scriptures and studying ourselves approved. But don’t take my word for it. Be a Berean and check my work.

If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 1 Cor 16:22

Anathema means accursed. Accursed means going to hell

Begin with the end in mind.

Maranatha!

The Hammer and The Lamp

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14

It’s been over five years since I’ve seen or heard from my old best friend Jason Oyler. Our lives were a wreck when we met and we surrendered to the Lord together in prison. Jason was my best man at our wedding and he lived with us for over a year. Today he’s in a coma for the second time following two back-to-back surfing incidents. I have no idea if he will ever read this let alone if I will have an opportunity to speak directly with him again. 

Jason in the white T-Shirt

As personalities go, I was and still am a hammer in a world of nails.  In contrast, Jason was a ten million lumen lamp that brightened the surroundings where ever he went. My attitude was and is like Paul’s in Lystra. Acts 14:19-20  Jason’s was one of “love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet 4:8. I would rant.  He would smile. I would argue. He would diffuse my intensity with a joke. 

I eventually became a school-based adolescent substance abuse counselor and then a clinical supervisor overseeing six schools on Kauai. Meanwhile, Jason became a journeyman carpenter, then a licensed contractor building million-dollar homes.  I only saw him twice during that time. Once when he needed advice on setting boundaries in his relationship. The next was when his first wife died. Other than that neither one of us had the time. That’s my excuse anyway.

I’ve always been good at boundaries. Boundaries are what made me a successful counselor.

The CHAIR

The chair was the secure and confidential place in my classroom at Kappa Middle School. It sat behind a partition next to my desk. It was a place where hundreds of hurting children poured out their hearts and souls. A place where I tried to impart hard-earned wisdom and prevent children from choosing paths that Jason and I barely survived.  There wasn’t an inch of the chair that didn’t have a name. Many of them faded through the years and were signed over. Naturally, their lack of concern for their own confidentiality was a function of their being children. They were transparent, naïve to the realities of future adult life and the façades required for success in that world.

Still, I am reminded as I write that Jesus made being childlike a prerequisite for Heaven.

Jason was always childlike. He’d have been a great adolescent counselor.

I was a good counselor because nothing ever freaked me out. I could listen to the most heart-wrenching stories, often horror stories, and remain calm, rational, and detached.  I lasted ten years in a field where most people burn out in less than two. I’d still be working there if I hadn’t left for the mission field.

“How do you stay so straightfaced Mr?” the kids would ask. 

I got even better at boundaries as time went on and more clients died. Clients who OD and commit suicide cause counselors to quit. Yet I even videoed one funeral for the family of a child with whom I’d worked closely for years. “How do you do that and not cry?” people asked. “I’m crying inside.” I replied.  I wasn’t lying. I remember the sheer number of people who showed up to grieve his death. I guess they were crying inside too. Still, I wondered, as his friends poignantly poured his ashes into the sea, where were all these people before he put that noose around his neck. Where they repenting now?

Intimacy

Intimacy is something I mention a lot. But the truth be told I suck at it. Not with God in my secret place.  I’ve got that down.  But with other people.  I can give the impression of intimacy because I care enough to read and listen to what people think, analyze it, ask questions, and explain exactly how and why I think it is or isn’t true. Yet I rarely go deep into the discomfort of bearing the burdens of others. I rely on Cathy to do that. When people like Jason move on and out of my life it never seems to bother me much.  If I am perfectly honest, one thing I liked most about counseling was that intimacy is forbidden. Most people require years of training in how to avoid it. Not me. I’d have an easier time getting beheaded than weeping with those who weep. And don’t offer me the “man” excuse and blame it on the society in which I was raised. Society has, in my opinion, already overdosed on estrogen and gender is just another excuse. It’s even easier to shut off my emotions in a crisis, call a spade a spade, or remain cool as ice during a disaster. Sure it’s handy if you’re staring down the barrel of a gun or surrounded by spear-wielding Shuar in the Amazon. People always said I was the one guy they would want with them if they were attacked in an alley. The thing is I cried when I heard about Jason and I’m choking back tears now. Only no one knows it, not even my wife. At least not until she read this. Like most people I have all sorts of reasons for being the way I am. You’d probably agree with most of them if I laid them all out. Still, it’s just an excuse.

Somewhere in the course of the trauma that Jesus guaranteed, I made a decision.

I chose to be who I am.

“For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.” Mat 25:3-7


Every sermon I have heard on these verses focused on the oil being representative of Holy Spirit. That may be true. Yet the purpose of a lamp is not to store oil. Lamps burn oil to shine light. Biblically speaking, light is representative of truth. I always imagined that “trimming their lamps” meant dimming them to preserve precious oil. However, trimming a lamp involves cutting away the tar and impurities from the wick and shaping it to reduce the smoke and soot that dims the glass and achieve the hottest, cleanest and brightest flame yielding the most light.

Light exposes what is hidden in darkness.

A lot of people are talking about the church today. Why is it so broken, divided, and powerless?  Why are there so many false gospels emerging in Jesus’s name and so many Christians deconstructing in the name of love? Why do so many millennials do “community” so well yet succumb to the most appalling and heretical theologies? The easy response is “because they were never taught.” Hence, I originally began writing and framing the problem based on the history and hypocrisy of the church, its burning of brethren at the stake in Jesus’s name before the Pilgrims sailed for Plymouth rock. I was going to focus on it’s railing against transgenderism today in defiance of Rom 2:1 while celebrating Ishtar, the god of the transgender movement with bunnies and painted eggs in Jesus’ name.  Not because I’m pro transgenderism in the church but because judgment must come first to the house of God. I was going to talk about repentance, that true repentance is rooted in the right belief. Right belief comes from studying oneself approved. True as that may be belief is also rooted in a divine revelation – of Holy spirit conviction. This is what gives us the right to become sons and daughters of the living God. Not knowledge derived from study alone. Interestingly the 5th Step of 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, a group that is marginalized by many evangelicals today and whose origins can be traced back to the Welsh revival in 1904, is perhaps one of the most biblically sound descriptions of repentance anywhere. After writing out a “fearless and searching moral inventory” of oneself in the 4th step, the 5th step that comes straight out of James 5:16 says that we must admit “to God, ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”. Anyone who has done this knows the fear and humiliation that comes with reading every sin you can recollect to another. Ideally you trust the person to whom you confess based on the fact that they have undergone this same humiliating process themselves. Even more interesting is the statement in the Book Alcoholics Anonymous that one’s ultimate ability to abstain from alcohol in the future is contingent upon how thoroughly this step is done. This is consistent with 1 Cor 11:28-30 regarding our participation in Communion or the Lord’s Supper.

“A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead.”

Once again the light of the great Oiler, a.k.a. Holy Spirit is shining on me – exposing me, prompting me to repent.  That it was prompted by my friend Jason Oyler is perhaps the irony of God. When Jason left our home it was with a smile on his face and gratitude in his heart. I was mad. I thought we were going to build a ministry together. My pride was hurt and I felt betrayed.  Of course, I never told him how I felt and I certainly didn’t give him reason to believe I wanted to hear his heart. Deep down I knew he was tired of the incessant hammering. I don’t know if I will be able to confess my sin to him so I am confessing to all of you now.

I was selfish, self-centered, prideful and a really bad friend.

There’s a trail of people like Jason strewn in the wake of my laboring for God.

In case you are wondering I am not on the verge of deconstructing, or repenting for being a hammer. I’m just reflecting on why I am a hammer in the first place and maybe recounting the cost. There certainly is a place for not backing down, for not loving one’s life even onto death – especially today. The truth will always be a stumbling block to some. When I hear of celebrated theologians like Dr. Paul Maxwell and so many others who have publicly deconstructed and formally rejected Christianity, my initial reaction is “well I guess he never was one of us.” 1 John 2:19  That’s probably true. Still, I have to wonder. Am I just making excuses for being the way I am? After all, that love covers a multitude of sins especially when loving hurts is as much the truth that Paul wrote, we only “know in part” as is boldly declaring it while haters hurl stones.

Haters hurling stones is never proof in itself that one is right.

Being conformed to His image involves considering these things.

I know that God will show me as I continue to pray and ask Him to “search me” Psalm 139:23-24. Jason and I used to pray that together during Cleansing Stream seminars as we brought our filthy lives before the throne of grace in a more evangelically approved version of the 5th Step. I don’t necessarily agree with their theology now. But one thing is certain. They’ve got James 5:16 down

More truth be told, this past year has been an ongoing cleansing stream for us, a time of deep searching and repentance for both me and Cathy. And while it may not be a twenty six page catalogue of abominations like my first humiliation, it was none the less profound and in many way more powerful. I’m not talking about the typical “oh yeah I did that, sorry God” and move on entitled type of repentance. I’m talking about deep “Oh what a wretched man I am who will save me from this body of death!” repentance. The kind of repentance that makes the fear and humiliation of telling another human your dirt seem absurd. Many in the church believe it shouldn’t apply if you are truly saved. Yet I submit that it is evidence of sanctification and deep calling to deep. A divinely appointed encounter with Acts 2:43 “awe” that more correctly translates to TERROR like one experiences the first time in the ocean when your not a great swimmer, the tide pulls you out and your feet can’t touch bottom. Long story short God showed us where we had been apathetic toward His word in the past and redacted it to make it fit what we wanted it to say like getting married after both being divorced. No we are not going to go all legalistic and try to fix a sin with another sin by divorcing again. But don’t go trying to make excuses for us ether. The words of Jesus are the words of Jesus. It wasn’t as much the physical sins that can most easily be taken before the throne of grace, but rather the flippancy with which we had regarded parts of His word and His commands. It was the kind of repentance where we stood confidently clothed in the righteousness of Christ one minute and the fear of God was upon us in the next. It happened separately and months apart. On one hand, it was the most terrifying experience in which we didn’t know how we could go on. On the other, we were saddened when it’s intensity receded. I say receded because it is still working in us now. In my case, it was a clear view, and recognition of who God is and exactly what I look like in contrast with His Holiness and most importantly apart from the shed blood of Christ. I know it’s all the rage to worship a self-esteem-affirming God today. The “ME in him” God who “chases ME down and fights ’til I’m found” and who erases every bad feeling I might ever have about myself. But I’m not talking about a middle school giddy, glory cloud and gold dust blowing from air ducts to the beat of “No Longer Slaves” kind of encounter.  I am talking about a supernatural revelation of His holy severity without which His grace and love are impossible.  A 1 Cor 3:10-23 dross burning, Heb 12 shaking by the “consuming fire” who’s discipline we dare not refuse!

Exposure Time

Here’s the point. I can not claim to be a missionary let alone a minister of the gospel and not walk my talk. That’s why I’m sharing my faults instead of promoting a false image of super missionary moral perfection in pursuit of a celebrity pulpit. Transparency, confession, and repentance are foundational to not only our faith but our salvation. They are better modeled than preached.  And while I know my friend Jason will probably just smile because love never keeps a record of wrongs, I hope and pray I get the opportunity to repent to his face, to say I’m sorry for taking our friendship, our brotherhood in Christ for granted. I want him to know I am grateful for the lessons God taught me through him and is teaching me now. I know that “God causes all “things” to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” And while some might argue that those “things” are predestined by God. I can not help but wonder if some might be better if we made different choices along the way and didn’t feel so darn entitled to have God to clean up our mess.

Finally, if we are going to fix what is broken, weak and sick, and dead and bring hope and salvation to a rapidly dying world we have got to begin by dropping our façades. That starts with a concrete, real time practice of James 5:16.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

And don’t tell me you don’t have a façade. That’s like smoking a cigarette then telling a former smoker you don’t smoke. Do we want the revival everyone has been praying for and prophesying for years? The only way it will happen is if we are broken before God and each other. And as much as I’d like to frame it in the context of “don’t do this – do that!” I don’t think what is required is going to come by the usual charismatic conjuring or knowledge or any other act of human will but only by the sovereign hand of the God who was crucified for our sin, was resurrected, predestined us for adoption and will judge us in eternity.

That said we can make our hearts willing and we can pray.

Lord let your holiness, severity and the fear of you fall. Shake us Lord. Burn off the dross and grant us the gift of repentance in Jesus’s name.

Please also keep my friend Jason in your prayers.

Maranatha!