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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

Contending with the WOKE

A Cliff Notes approach

This is a companion post to God Chose Joe Biden in which I addressed the errors of false prophecy, political idolatry, and replacement theology on the part of the politically leavened “Right” in the USA some of whom still believe DJT will be president in 2021.

This post is about the political leaven on the Left.

I previously covered this in a longer blog and lost several friends in the process. Perhaps I will lose more with this post. This is the cliff notes version for those who need to know what they are up against but do not have the time to wade through the entire philosophical genealogy of the Woke movement. 

Disclaimer.

My use of terms Left, Woke, CRT, Marxism, etc. is not intended as a personal attack on any person or group. They are used in reference to errant beliefs and belief systems. 

Now that Joe Biden is president and pumping out executive orders like confetti to include mandatory indoctrination in Critical Race Theory a.k.a “unconscious bias”/”sensitivity training” everywhere the Federal Government has jurisdiction, many Christians are finding themselves frustrated, confused, and even led astray. 

What is proposed in an emotionally packaged promotion of compassion, and advocacy for basic human rights is in fact the opposite

In terms of Christianity, Woke is the contemporary term for Critical Race Theory (CRT) applied to the gospel.  Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell is most often credited with founding Critical Race Theory in the 1960s. Its original intended application was in the realm of jurisprudence. However, it soon made its way into the halls of general academia.  Only recently has it overtly manifested itself in the daily lives of Americans.

Many are still unaware of its insidiousness

CRT was derived from Critical Theory, the brainchild of failed Marxists in the Frankfurt School of Economics during the early 20th century.  I say failed Marxists because Karl Marx believed in an inevitable revolution of the working class versus the capitalist class (think today’s 1%). Yet, he did not account for the fact that while the rich indeed got richer, the poor got richer too. Given that Marxism requires conflict between oppressor and oppressed classes, Critical Theorists substituted the idea of race and gender-based disparity for the previously failed model based on economics alone. Minorities and women became the preferred oppressed and white males the oppressors. While it is certainly true that disparities have always existed in society, it is important to understand that these disparities were and are just a means to an end for these rebranded Marxists.

The Key is the CRITICAL

The “Critical” in CRT is not the same as the “Critical” in Critical thinking.  Critical thinking is based on the discipline of logic and the laws of coherence and correspondence. Critical thinking applied to problem-solving is solution-focused.  Critical Theory is problem-focused. Critical Thinking is constructive. Critical Theory is deconstructive. All Marxist revolutions begin with historical, cultural, linguistic, and institutional deconstruction then revision. Hence Critical Race Theory proponents are frequently labeled Cultural Marxists or Neo-Marxists. 

Many dispute this title.

Still, we know a tree by its fruit.

Similar to atheists who frame their defense of atheism based on what atheism “is not” CRTs do the same when confronted with its abject lack of coherence.  For example, if I dispute the framing of my identity based on “whiteness” because it is racist, CRTs reply that while my “whiteness” does in fact make me guilty of racism, whiteness has nothing to do with skin color.  If the objection is raised in the context of a conversation with a black CRT they will say black people can not be racist only white people can. “But I thought it wasn’t about skin color?” you say. “Exactly!” That their reasoning is completely incoherent is irrelevant because knowledge derived from the aforementioned Critical Thinking framework is itself a form of colonialism and a product of the white male-dominated patriarchy. Unfortunately, the ridiculousness of CRT does not diminish the existential danger it represents.

CRT is a worldview.

All world views are based on one or more presuppositions. Some basic Christian presuppositions are that God created the universe and all people are created in His image. Truth, reality, and morality are objective, absolute, and enumerated in scripture that is itself inherent.  Objective means it is coherent and corresponds to reality as defined by our Christian worldview. A simplistic example of objective truth would be that if I jump off a cliff in my surf shorts I am going to hit the ground below.  Absolute means the same thing will happen every time. While Christians regard the Word of God as absolute objective truth, CRTs consider reality and the very idea of truth, especially moral truth to be a social construct. Language is its primary building block.

Hence what one says to a CRT frequently carries more weight than what one does.

Postmodernism is another root of the Woke. Postmodernism maintains that truth if it exists at all is relative. What is true for you might not be true for me. What matters is that we respect one another’s FEELINGS. That means I respect your right to determine your truth.  You respect my right to determine mine.  If gay marriage and abortion fit your moral paradigm I should accept it. If any implied disagreement on my part hurts your feelings it is my moral duty to apologize for being insensitive. In some places insensitivity may be grounds for being charged with a hate crime. In the context of the Woke church if you say you heard such and such from God I am supposed to reply “wow that’s so awesome!” even if scripture contradicts every single word you spoke. Of course, the Bereans in Acts 17:11 would say otherwise but who am I to question God?

Progressivism

Postmodernism was a catalyst for progressivism to enter the church.  Progressivism applied to Christianity views the understanding of scripture to be evolving in conjunction with the moral advancement of humankind. Gay marriage and limitless abortion are moral advancements. The Word of God is a living document. Its interpretation is subject to revision. Add CRT to the mix and traditional orthodox interpretations of scripture become invalidated due to their oppressive, racist, patriarchal roots. Hence today’s progressive church frames Jesus as a revolutionary, who fought the patriarchy on behalf of the poor and oppressed and was subsequently murdered for His impassioned pursuit of social justice.

Intersectionality.

Intersectionality further groups society based on oppressed versus oppressor status.  Influence and authority are determined according to the number of intersectional groups to which one claims membership.  In a word, it monetizes the “victim stance”. For example, black is one group. Women is another. There are also Muslim, LGBTQ, and soon-to-be Pedophiles a.k.a. MAPs (Minor Attracted Persons) to name a few.  The point here is that a black, Muslim, LGBTQ woman has more clout than a mere black woman. Oppressor groups have four categories white, male, cisgender, and Christian.  While it is possible to have membership in both oppressed and oppressor groups e.g. a white woman, or gay male, white, heterosexual Christian males only qualify as oppressors.  Disagreement with this paradigm is labeled “White Fragility” which is to say that one is too weak to accept one’s assigned inferior status as a punching bag in society. Any defensiveness is regarded as further proof of guilt. 

Critical Thinkers call that a Kafka Trap.

Standpoint Epistemology

Intersectionality adherents further define reality and truth according to “lived experience”. This is called Standpoint Epistemology. Metaphorically speaking, “lived experience” is a form of social credit. Credit scores are elevated according to the number of intersectional groups to which one claims membership but especially according to any relevant lived experiences as an oppressed person. Oppressed groups with proverbial high social credit scores have the right to speak and to be heard. Those with the highest scores become influencers. Oppressors have the right to shut up, listen and admit their guilt. Those who admit their guilt and actively oppose their fellow oppressors are called “allies”. Membership and participation in the “community” is their reward. Community is based on compliance with the group consensus. One point to consider is that while the more orthodox tend to revere the lone believer who opposes the mob and stands alone for truth even onto death, the Woke are more inclined to respect those who conform and value community above all else. Consensus and acceptance is love. Disagreement is hate. Hate must be canceled.

Empty Deceit

In the case of professing Christians who have been “cheated  through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Col 2:8 scripture clearly refutes the foundations of CRT. 

Christianity is ultimately about redemption and reconciliation between mankind and God. 2 Cor 5:16-19

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the. ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

CRT defines all human interactions according to power. Power and reparations are the goal. 

Forgiveness

While it is true that Daniel interceded on behalf of Israel and modeled how we should pray to God regarding the collective sin of a nation, Christianity is predicated on repentance from personal sin, forgiveness from God, and for others as core values without which it is impossible to be a Christian. CRT is obsessed with the past collective often imaginary sins of ancestors we never knew and for whose actions we are to be held responsible. Repentance and forgiveness are not possible because racism is not something one does. Racism is something one is.  Eternal penance through never-ending “anti-racism work” and becoming an “ally” are the only path to redemption. Anti-racism work means continually identifying how one is a racist until one dies.

Justice

While Christians should be concerned about injustice, such as genuine racial oppression, abortion, abuse, and human trafficking, etc. biblical justice is never promised on earth but only in eternity. The American legal system is based on the idea that it is better that a guilty man go free than for an innocent man to be convicted. In contrast to biblical justice, CRT pursues social justice by aligning oppressed intersectional groups against designated oppressors for the sake of retribution and equity. 

Equality versus Equity

Christianity maintains that everyone is created equal in the eyes of God and everyone is equal in the face of truth regardless of social status. “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” Lev 19:15 Equality of opportunity is inferred by scripture.

CRT seeks equity of outcomes where everyone is rendered the same regardless of intelligence, ability, or effort. That one’s greater means is the result of parents who worked 16 hours a day to provide a better future for their children while another used drugs and refused to work at all is irrelevant. Those born into families with greater means must be handicapped in order to make things fair and equitable. Unfortunately, as impassioned Marxist revolutionary pawns repeatedly learned during the previous century, applied Marxism never ends with equity for the poor masses but rather a consolidation of wealth and power among a ruling elite. The point here is that you are dealing with Marxism anytime you hear the word “equity” used in the context of social issues.

Categorization

An entire Bible study is contained in the scriptures that follow. Copy the scriptures, commit them to memory and formulate your own argument so you are ready in season and out to rightly divide the word of truth and cast down these vain imaginations that exalt themselves above the word of God.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”  Rev 12:10 The word for “accuse” here is katēgoréō from which the English word categorization is derived. Like Satan, CRTs are forever classifying people into socially constructed subcategories under the primary headings of oppressor and oppressed. Acts 10:34-35, Rom 2:11-16, and Gal 3:28-29 are clear that God is no respecter of persons, genders, social status, or ethnicity. Categorizing anyone apart from the Imago Dei is demonic; period. God’s only criteria for acceptance is that we love and obey Him. Please note, love is impossible apart from free will and obedience. Of course, we weep and pray for all who are blinded by the god of this world many of whom are in our own families 2 Cor 4:4. Still, we know that apart from Christ our most righteous deeds to include our condemnation of others are like filthy rags. Rom 3:10-18, Isa 64. In the end, those not “in Christ Jesus” Eph 2 will perish for their lack of repentance like the Galileans in Luke 13:1-5

“There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Woke is predicated on a lie

When engaging the Woke it is vital to understand that committed CRTs are never intellectually honest. Not because they are intentionally lying, but because they have a different definition of truth. They will not examine or even acknowledge their own logical fallacies and thinking errors. Rather they divert the conversation, move the proverbial goal posts, redefine their terms and engage in “whataboutism” to keep you on the defensive. As for the Christian Woke, they rarely cite scripture. If they do they do so out of context. Isaiah 61:1 is a favorite that they interpret as speaking about themselves in the context of a personal social justice anointing instead of the prophetic word that Jesus fulfilled in Luke 4:18. In my experience, there is little point in debating with them. Therefore, don’t give way to anger and frustration as this is often their goal. Just define your terms, state your point, preach the gospel, wipe the dust off your feet and move on all the while praying that God would remove the scales from their eyes. Mat 10:14

Finally, when contending with the Woke know that Rom 1:18-32 always applies from the first presupposition regarding God and his creation through the path and composition of evil. Almost every tenant of the Woke is addressed here. Hold your ground and reject Wokness out of hand knowing that it is the spirit of antichrist that you oppose.

I realize this might sound overly bold or even harsh to some. However, I would suggest that we have a choice. Oppose the Woke on philosophical and theological grounds now. Or be faced with the same ethical dilemma that Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced when the Woke gain the limitless power they crave.

Maranatha

Debasillicaize Yo Self

A brief convictional

Joe Biden has been in the Oval Office for more than a month now and doing everything we feared he would do as well as some things he promised that he wouldn’t. And to think he’s only getting started.  Our friends in Romania and those who escaped Venezuela are dumbfounded over American apathy and zeal as the seeds of Marxism sprout in the US.  Meanwhile, a substantial portion of Trump supporters continue to cling to a false prophetic hope that Donald Trump will still be president in 2021. I just read the latest QAnon prediction that March 4th is the new projected date. Jeremiah Johnson, the most repentant false prophet recently stated, in his video series entitled I Was Wrong“the charismatic prophetic movement is deeply sick.” Meanwhile, Trump apostle Johnny Enlow just issued a rebuke and warning to those who would dare criticize God’s prophets like himself.

In a previous post, I correlated the politicization of Christianity with the actions of Christians in Nazi Germany.

As it turns out it all may have started with Eusebius.

Eusebius was among other things the first Church Historian and possibly the unintentional founder of Christian Nationalism under Emperor Constantine.  As he wrote in The Life Of The Blessed Emperor Constantine,

“As the sun, when he rises upon the earth, liberally imparts his rays of light to all, so did Constantine, proceeding at early dawn from the imperial palace, and rising as it were with the heavenly luminary, impart the rays of his beneficence to all who came into his presence.”

Sound Familiar?

Constantine was the 1st Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity and suspend the persecution of the Church. That was a good thing. Eusebius loved Constantine. As it turns out Eusebius might have been Constantine’s, Paula White.

Previous to this the early Church met in homes even though many Jewish Christians also continued to attend synagogue. When Constantine converted he made Christianity the official state religion of Rome and the Church came out from the underground into the Basilicas.

Ironically, Basilicas were built for Emperor worship.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians,

“Awake ‘o sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will give you light.” 

Light is symbolic of wisdom and truth.  Today we have a shortage of both. May I suggest that the current business at hand for the church should not be politics but rather prayer, study, and discussion regarding how the Church is going to be the Church if the current trajectory toward global Marxism continues? People have been talking about a return to the Acts 2 church for decades.

Maybe we need to be debasilicaized.

Maranatha

The Gospel of the Kingdom

The Olivet Discourse

As I explained in the previous post a lot of Christians placed their faith in politics, people, and their hope in false prophecies regarding the reelection of Donald Trump.  Poor exegesis and perhaps no exegesis was the cause. Again, I did not want Joe Biden and I firmly believe that he and his administration represent abject evil. Still, God allowed it. He also allowed Nebuchadnezzar. As Christians, we need to depend on God and be guided by the Word instead of politics. Politics is the way of the world. Rather than viewing the times according to a new prophet with a new word from God we are commanded to study ourselves approved and rightly divide the Word of Truth. We are to view ourselves, the events of our lives, and the times in which we live through the lens of scripture.  Any serious study regarding the role of prophecy in the New Testament will quickly reveal that it involves Holy Spirit inspired preaching and teaching directly from scripture, not inspired additions to what is already written. That said, false prophecies are a mark of the end times.  So is persecution.  As for those who proclaim themselves to be apostles and able to operate in all the gifts, the qualification for such a title is given by Paul in 1 Cor 2 Cor 11. It involves being beaten, whipped, caned, shipwrecked, stranded at sea, starved, naked, thirsty, and robbed, considered a weakling, a fool, and persecuted by fellow believers, all the while being a servant to all and above all prioritizing one’s “deep concern for all the churches”. Martyrdom, not prosperity was their final reward.

Our Hope in Two Parts

We must understand that the Gospel message preached by the apostles was two-fold. The first was the Gospel of Salvation whereby Jesus conquered sin and death and made a way for all people to be reconciled to the Father by grace through faith that was in itself a gift so no one may boast. This is the meaning of Jesus’s words “It is finished”. The second was the Gospel of the Kingdom that remains to be fulfilled. Together they are Maranatha.  Jesus has come.  Jesus is coming. It was not a message of an earthly kingdom NOW, as even the apostles initially thought.  While the message was most certainly prophetic it had absolutely nothing to do with our prosperity or comfort in this life. Nor were the disciples consumed with themselves, their identities, or their own reflections as they imagined them to be in God’s eyes. Rather the Gospel of the Kingdom that they preached was an apocalyptic one rooted in the Old Testament, especially the book of Daniel.

So what time is it?

Jesus gives the disciples a near bullet-point outline of events leading up to the establishment of His Kingdom on earth in Mat 24 and the first part of what is commonly known as the Olivet Discourse.

He was extremely clear in answering the disciple’s question regarding the sign of His coming and the end of the age. He prefaced or book ended the outline by pointing to the Temple and saying,

“You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Mat 24:1-2

That prophecy was fulfilled when the second temple was destroyed by the Romans under Titus in 70AD.

The outline begins in Mat 24:3

  • First He said to be careful that no one deceives you that many would claim to be “Christ”. It is important to remember that the Bible was not written in English.  Therefore we must not take our understanding based upon our English Bible versions for granted. Christ is Greek for “Christos” and means “anointed”. Consider for a moment how flippantly we toss that word around today. “They will deceive many” Mat 24:4-5. While anyone claiming to be Jesus today is sure to be dismissed out of hand, “anointed” also refers to those who presume themselves qualified to speak in His name.  Many claim to be anointed today. Many are being deceived.
  • Then Jesus describes the coming birth pains. War and rumors of war, nation against a nation. While we tend to read “nation” as “country”, nation translates to ethnos or people group. It is the word from which the English word ethnicity is derived. There will be pestilences e.g. plagues and locusts, etc., famines and earthquakes. Of course, all of these have continued throughout history and there are multitudes of false prophets who have tried to time the second coming accordingly. That is perhaps one reason why so many pastors today avoid eschatology completely. We know for certain that all of these have increased in scope and frequency since Jesus was crucified. It would appear that earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and storms, in particular, have increased in size and or frequency over the last several decades. Climate change activists warn of coming droughts and famines.
  • Then His followers will be hated, persecuted, and killed. This too has continued and is once again on the rise throughout the world today. One need only visit the Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors websites to see that global persecution of Christians is on the rise. More Christians have been martyred in the last century than on all previous centuries combined. Granted the severity of persecution in the US is nowhere near that of places like Iran, China, and Ethiopia to name a few. Yet given the admitted spirit and agenda of the current administration, its sanctioned organizations like BLM, ANTIFA, etc. and the growing negative public perception of Christians it’s not hard to imagine what could be coming soon.
  • And many will be offended, betray one another. I could be wrong but I am unaware of any other time in history when the Body of Christ has been so divided.
  • And hate one another.
  • Then many false prophets will deceive many.
  • And lawlessness will abound
  • And the love of many will grow cold.

It doesn’t require a statistician to see the exponential increase in these four in my lifetime alone. In addition to false teachings in the church, they are increasingly fueled by a post-modern and or neo-Marxist world view that eliminates the idea of objective truth and especially objective moral law. It is the same spirit of anti-Christ that resulted in the deaths of at least one hundred million people in the previous century alone. 

  • But those who endure will be saved.

The exact nature of that endurance is clarified in Rev 12:11

  • And (in the midst of all this) the gospel will be preached within all of the world as a witness to all Nations (ethnos, people groups) Please note the word “witness” does not refer to passing out tracks on a street corner. Witness means “Martyr”.

Then the end will come. Mat 24:15

This is the opposite bookend in the outline. The verses that follow further clarify what Jesus outlined here.

THIS IS IMPORTANT

You will notice that at no point did Jesus say the church will be evacuated (Raptured) and spared from the Great Tribulation. The truth be told the idea of a Pre-Tribulation rapture never existed before 1830.  Jesus was clear. The church must endure and the gospel will be preached amid, and as a result of, that enduring.  Those hungry for revival will be happy to know that a deep dive into Joel 2 will reveal that the greatest revival on earth will accompany the greatest tribulation the body of Christ has ever known.

Obviously, my flesh would prefer that the whole world came to Jesus amidst my own comfort and prosperity followed by a quick cloud ticket out before things get uncomfortable.

The fact remains that the gospel has always thrived the most amidst persecution.

In addition,

Tribulation, not prosperity is the seed of the Hope that does not disappoint. Rom 5:3-5

Suffering is part of God’s plan.

Keep in mind I am only sketching things out here.  Again, we know in apart and we all see as in a glass darkly. You might see things differently.  If so I’m happy, (actually excited) to look at any scripturally base argument that you (not a YouTube video) can provide.

Moving on…

“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),.then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…” Mat 24:15-16

The New Testament was not yet written during the Apostle’s missionary journeys, let alone the book of Revelation. The Book of Daniel was their primary Gospel. Hence Jesus would have expected them to know what He was talking about. The abomination of desolation was in direct reference to Dan 9:27Dan 11:31, and especially Dan 12:11-12.

For those who love deep dives,

Dan 12:11-12 gives and the exact timeline for when the Tribulation will begin and end.  Contrary to popular belief, Mat 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”  is not a broadly stated principle implying that Jesus could come at any time.  It specifically refers to the period between the end of the tribulation and the Dan 7 appearance of Jesus.  As for the tribulation itself, do the math.  1290+1335 = 2625×365 = 7.2 years. That is where we get the 7-year timeline for the tribulation.

– Suffice it to say that at some point the daily sacrifice will be taken away and the abomination of desolation set up. Dan 12:11 sets this time period at 1290 days or 3.5 years which according to my model would be the midpoint of the Tribulation. Those claiming that the A of D took place in Jesus’s day or the Dome of the Rock was it must ignore the context of Dan 12:11-12. The Dome construction was a six-year project completed in 691 AD. The daily sacrifice was taken away in 70AD. Even if we interpret a day as a year that leaves us with 621, not 1290. The only way the math works is if we take the week in Dan 9:27 to mean 7 years and “days” in Dan 12:11-12 as literal days. The only other option is that we are nowhere even close to the end and none of what I am saying matters. However, if  I am correct, the daily burnt offering will be re-implemented. It is alsoworth noting that Rabbinic law requires that the sacrifice be performed on the Temple Mount but not necessarily in the temple itself. At the very least a third altar needs to be constructed. It has. In fact, we saw a portable altar ready to be towed into place when we were in Israel. The problem is that Temple Mount is home to the Dome of the Rock which is a Muslim Mosque. Jews are forbidden to worship there even though it sits in the center of Jerusalem and the entire area is under the control of the Jordanians. 

Enter Donald Trump

Perhaps you heard of the Abraham Accords whereby President Trump brokered a deal that resulted in formerly hostile Arab Muslim nations making peace with Israel to include a realignment of powers that looks a lot like the Kings of the North and South in Eze 38.  (More on that later provided there is enough interest as this is already becoming a sermon outline.)

Perhaps more importantly, Saudi Arabia is now Israel’s ally and Jordan no longer has exclusive control over the Temple Mount. Saudi Arabia is the site of Mecca to which Muslims are expected to make at least one Hajj (pilgrimage) in their lifetime.  Therefore, in my opinion, the Temple Mount may be much less of a concern to them. 

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has expressed concern over rumors that the Dome of the Rock will soon be replaced by a 3rd Jewish Temple. Of course, the Jewish Sanhedrin has been negotiating behind the scenes for years and preparing to begin construction within just days of receiving permission to return to the Temple Mount. Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in full support of this effort. 

My point here is that I am viewing world events through the lens of scripture.  The next event that believers should be watching for is not a miraculous restoration of traditional American values, as comforting as that would be, but the return of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount and the re-institution of the Daily sacrifice. 

At some point after that, the Anti-Christ who according to Ezekiel comes from Gog, which is somewhere in the area of present-day Northern Syria and Southern Turkey will be revealed.  He will be identified by the false peace in Dan 9 followed by the end of the daily sacrifice and the abomination of desolation. We can only speculate what that might be. Still, the back-to-back adjectives “abominable” and “desolate” imply that it will be pretty clear when it happens.

These two events mark the point where we can begin the 7-year count down.

What follows in Mat 24:16-28 pertains to details and instructions for Israel during the  Tribulation particularly in reference to Jer 30 and what is commonly known as The Time of Jacob’s Trouble. This will be the final and most severe chastisement of Israel such that if those days were not shortened no flesh would survive out of which the biblical, as opposed to the current self-appointed Remnant believers will emerge.

Mat 24:29-31 describes the return of Jesus and what many call the Rapture. This is in direct reference to Dan 7:13-14. Entire volumes have been written on this chapter in Daniel but suffice it to say that The Son of Man in Daniel is the Son of Man to which Jesus referred to Himself at least 78 times. It was His primary identity, declaration of His deity, and the main reason why the Jewish leaders wanted Him dead.

Mat 24:32-51 and Mat 25 provide more details regarding our preparation and response in parable form.  They are not separate events.

You may have noticed that I didn’t say a whole lot about the Book of Revelation here. The reason is simple.  It is the hardest to understand and characterized by the most insane and twisted interpretations of any book in the Bible. Hence a majority of eschatologically minded believers tend to be more concerned with avoiding the Mark of the Beast, than provoking the Jewish people to jealousy. The Book of Revelation is impossible to understand without a firm grasp of Old Testament end times prophecy.  Don’t even think about delving into Revelation without first understanding Daniel, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Joel, and Ezekiel for starters.

Finally, a correct understanding of eschatology is a fantastic evangelistic tool. Most people don’t want to hear they are sinners.  Almost everyone is interested in the End Times. That opens the door to the full Gospel message especially as we witness the fulfillment of end times prophecy.  A correct understanding of eschatology could also potentially determine whether a believer ends up in Heaven or Hell.  For example, I often wonder what might cause a great 2 Thes 2 falling away that would correspond with the man of perdition (the anti-Christ) being revealed?  What better cause could there be than a reported 71% of believers who currently adhere to a pre-tribulation rapture view suddenly, finding themselves left behind? What about those with a post-millennial view  committed to transforming the culture and “making earth great again” so Jesus can return?  What happens when everything they believed in and worked for is shaken and burned up and they face imprisonment and death? 

And you thought crushed MAGA dreams were bad?

Listen maybe I am completely wrong and the faithful will get a cloud ticket out of the tribulation? What do I know? After all, I’m only studying, not prophesying.  In that case, great! Apart from the last 16 years of being married to the most wonderful wife beyond anything I ever could have imagined, the majority of my time on earth has been brutal, full of tragedy, and heartbreaking. Maybe suffering is too much of a norm for me.  Or maybe I have a partial understanding of what Paul meant when he said,

To live is Christ. To die is gain.

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

Maranatha!

A Brief Convictional

Perhaps I would be more confused if I didn’t understand the deconstructive nature of the world view in which we are immersed. I do. I nearly succumbed to its current form when personal responsibility and resilience seemed beyond my grasp and I yearned for a scapegoat. 

This world view goes by many aliases and has its own contemporary vocabulary yet it is anything but new. Its author is offense.  Rebellions are its children.

Individuality is diluted via the assignment of a group designation. These designations usually end in “ist”,” ism”, “i” “an” um”, and “phobic”. “Er,” and “al” while less malignant are common too. Disagreement on any grounds always results in objectification and categorization for the purpose of immediate or future cancellation. Those who disagree are viewed as assailants with whom every discussion is a fight. Conformity to the consensus regarding justice is love. Those deemed unloving are identified and vilified. These are the haters who must be nullified and destroyed.  Pseudo intellectual mockery is the first line of attack then ad hominem assassination and censorship. Truth is subjective and the end always justifies the means. “Crybullying” and “lawfare” are the last resort before mob violence and murder.

This worldview has and does reshape culture such that identity becomes rooted in the fear of man and validation from peers instead of God and honoring the Imago Dei. Individual core beliefs, actions, accomplishments, and contributions to society are irrelevant especially if one’s ancestors ever thought or behaved in a way that opposes the current consensus. Truth requires they be erased from the annals of history.  Loving people never oppose truth. 

Personal validation is synonymous with social capital. Social capital is required to become an influencer.  Influencers have power. Power is established by the number of “intersectional” victim groups to which one can claim membership and or one’s demonstrated participation in the oppression of oppressors.  “Oppressor” is anyone who questions the group consensus. The consensus is established by those with power. 

Allies a.ka. “good people”  are those who demonstrate their conformity through repeated virtue signaling to peers and to those with power. This is the deepest expression of the aforementioned love.  Moral, mental, and emotional atrophy is its fruit.  Cultural decay and collapse soon follows. Historically speaking there have always been stronger, more resilient, and often a more violent cultures that seize the opportunity to rape, pillage, and plunder the remaining moral rot and weakness. Every ethnos, ideology, and culture has eventually succumbed to it.

Hence Isaiah wrote and Paul quoted, 

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

While I am certain that many will identify a particular person or group to which the above applies, every last one of us is complicit in our own demise. Therefore don’t look at your neighbor or the one whom you so despise. 

Look in the mirror and take the plank out of your eye. 

Maybe bear this in mind as the coming days and years unfold and any sense of personal autonomy and power erodes. The grace of God is available to all. Yet it is based on His conditions, not ours.  And while many will cry “no fair!” and “foul!”,  God judges nations. Not to punish or condemn the individuals within.  That day will come soon enough. It will be the day of the Lord. God judges nations to bring nations to their knees. He lets them remain until a collective cry is heard.

“Oh, what a wretched people we are! Who will save us from this body of death?”

People only eat when they are hungry.

Maranatha!

Choose Your Hill

The likely duration of the devastation in Honduras is just starting to sink in following our outreach last week. The sense of powerlessness we felt as we passed miles and miles of tarp cities along the way is hard to describe.

1 min video no script just footage.

Meanwhile, Josh fell hard off a ladder and injured his shoulder. His arm is in a sling.  If that weren’t enough our ministry vehicle has big issues and 

We are grounded for a few weeks.

What to do, what to do?…

I know. How about we catch up on the news.

Errant Epistemology

As usual, our world is in turmoil over worldviews and politics.  As always there are many on both sides of the political sewer stream who believe they know the truth. Yet apart from hands on daily experience the only thing any of us really know for sure is the content of what we have been told or shown via some form of media. Like it or not most of what we consume only skews reality.  As a media creator myself I know that some of that skewing is inevitable. Some is by design.

Inevitable causes result from the emphasis being determined by the creator. If you watch one of my videos you inevitably see what impacts me. I want you to see and feel what I see and feel. That’s why I’m creating it. The greater my passion the more my own biases pass through the lens of your perception, world view, and life experience. You then draw your own conclusions and pass them onto others. The process goes on ad Infinitum.

On some level, every media consumer becomes a co-errant creator.

Skewing by design is intentional and may be used to honor or dishonor the subject.

Anyone who has been interviewed by me knows that I cut errors. Any hesitation, confusion, cussing, stuttering, or farting is removed such that even the most awkward and nervous subject looks like a seamless orator. I do this both for the sake of time and honor. The dark side of this is that people can be made to say things they never said.  All it takes is a simple switching of camera angles and adding b-roll to cover spliced clips.  For example, I could ask you what you thought about cockroaches in one question and what you think about puppies in the next then splice the answer to the first question onto the second and walla!  You have been transformed from a clean person into a genocidal puppy killer. 

Yes, it’s really that easy.

Viewing is skewing

The diminishing attention span and patience of viewers as well as the accelerated speed at which people scroll through SM messages requires videos to be shorter and shorter.  Advertisers know they have no more than 5-15 seconds to hook you or you will scroll through their message on your device.  That’s why they allow you the “Skip Ad” option. As a result, billions of people make instant and completely subjective decisions regarding truth and the nature of reality everyday based on media titles and headlines like “Trump Invokes Insurection Act” alone.

You don’t have the wisest serpent in the den to discern where this might lead.

What is True?

Four years ago on New Year’s Eve, we were en-route back to Kauai from Africa where we had attended the Iris Global Harvest School of Missions.

Africa was paradigm-shifting, to say the least.  We saw what it means to really lay it all down for the sake of the gospel.  We learned that while miracles and projects happen and doctrinal differences always arise, mission work a.k.a. Christianity begins and ends with intimacy with God and stopping for the one in front of you

Thankfully it wasn’t until we returned that we heard the myriad controversies regarding Heidi Baker. Like any famous person she is enshrined by some and bedeviled by others. Suffice it to say that anyone who has not personally encountered her on the mission field should stop talking.

The same applies to Christians talking about anyone’s character whom we only know via the media. As it turns out I have been duped too. Allow me to be the first to repent of this.

The entire body of Christ is comprised of fallen, cracked pots.

How easy it is to forget the brokenness that drew us to Christ in the first place.  Still, the body of Christ has had challenges with discerning and holding onto truth from the start. One minute the Corinthians are on fire for the gospel. Then getting rebuked for sexual immorality in next. 1 Cor 5 On a good day we prophecy in part, know in part, and see in a glass darkly. Therefore everything we do must be grounded in a love for one another that we model before others. John 13:35  Otherwise we become loud dystopic clangs in an already dying world. 1 Cor 13:1

There’s a lot of clanging today

I don’t know about you but I can be pretty fiery. It doesn’t take a whole lot of media viewing to stoke my stupidity and expose my deficits in this area.

Part of the problem is that our society has become an ocean of normalized narcissism where personal opinions and significance have become idols and are monetized by Social Media. Yup being angry at someone because they disagree with the ALMIGHTY ME is narcissistic. Calling for revolution or civil war is psychotic. It may be coming soon thanks to the new religion of

Self-aggrandizement and maligning others in the temple of the smartphone.

“The Social Dilemma” is an absolute must for anyone who has ever asked questions like “How could anyone believe the Marxist driven Portland riots were a peaceful protest” or “How could any Christian support a Nazi white supremacist homophobic rapist like Donald Trump?”

The answer is scarier than you might imagine.

About two years ago I wrote Truth or Trump where I discussed what I learned during my old Forex trading days regarding how media manipulates markets and political narratives for profit. I concluded that political rage is destroying the witness of Christians. In the Anatomy of Deception, I covered the economic theory of Reflexivity and what George Soros termed the Fertile Fallacy and the Manipulative Function by which he determines reality. These also drive markets, public opinion, and behavior. That all of the aforementioned entities are working together to reform humanity in the forge of social media is- well… terrifying.

“The Social Dilemma” was a proverbial capstone.

God and Government – Fear Not

While there are all sorts of typological analogies that can be drawn from the Old Testament regarding kings and kingdoms, it is God who establishes both in accordance with His disposition toward nations. Our God-given rights can only be revoked by Him.

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

Hence He established both Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus.

Those who assume God didn’t establish Joe Biden and stand ready to redo 1776 should consider the almost prophetic words of John Adams in a letter to the Massachusetts Militia on October 11, 1798.

“We shall have the Strongest Reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the People of America, once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practicing iniquity and extravagance; and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor frankness & sincerity while it is rioting in rapine and insolence: this Country will be the most miserable habitation in the World. Because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition revenge or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The operative question here is; do the words, “moral and religious people” describe our nation today?

If that gets you thinking then you might be ready to read The Killing of Uncle Sam.  Whatever you might think of Dr. Rodney Howard Brown’s controversial theology, he is writing as a historian. It definitely lends perspective to the words “turn from their wicked ways” in 2 Chron 7:14

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

The bibliography alone is worth twice the price of his book. 

Many of problems we face today are largely a result of our nation’s collective obsession with Netflix and sports instead of history, civics, and sound Bible exegesis.  That two generations increasingly view what amounts to neo-Marxism as compassionate Biblically sound doctrine is a reaping of what we have sown.

Today we are in a very precarious position.

Everyone is being gaslit.

Everyone needs to question their epistemology.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s … thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.” – Mark Twain –

Our desire for and self-proclaimed God-ordained entitlement to justice comfort and prosperity is the source of our undoing.  That’s the round about way of saying, “mammon kills!” Those are hard words but Jesus had hard words for those who should have known better. They are preserved for our edification.  He and the apostles preached and modeled a message of total surrender of everything but the gospel.  In the end, none but Judas backed down.  All were beaten and killed for preaching it.

They did so amidst the following political climate and under rulers whom they never once opposed on political grounds.

  • Herod Antipas imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist in 28AD for criticizing his marriage.
  • In 37AD well known Caligula embarked on a reign of terror which included the execution of James and the imprisonment of Peter from which he miraculously escaped.
  • He was succeeded in 41AD by Claudius, who expelled all the Jews from Rome.
  • 62 AD saw Nero who blamed/set up Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in 64AD.  He is best known for burning Christians as human candles and sending them to their deaths in the amphitheater. Both Paul and Peter were executed by Nero in 66AD.  Nero committed suicide in 68AD and was succeeded by Vespasian, 69AD.
  • Titus destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD. He died in 81AD and was succeeded by his younger brother Domitian.
  • Domitian continued to persecute Christians because they wouldn’t worship the Roman gods or sacrifice to the Emperor.  He exiled the apostle John to the  island of Patmos in 89AD

The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount define our rights.

Here are some more hard words.

The gospel is not a call to political change, comfort, prosperity or even justice in this life. The Gospel is a call to die.

There is a poignant scene in the passion of the Christ where Mary is seen clutching fists full of the earth as her son is being nailed to the cross.  She rises from her knees in conjunction with the soldiers pulling the cross into its vertical position then opens her fists to release the earth as the cross drops into the supporting hole. No one including the disciples understood what was happening until after the resurrection.  The very act that brought eternal hope to the world emptied all of them of any hope they had in it.

All of us must get to this point.

Cathy and I often wonder how we and others would react to the crucifixion of our King if it happened today.

I suspect many would be calling for revolution and civil war.

Rev 13:10 is clear.

There is a lesson for America there.

As for us our heart and our hill are best described in the words Cathy recently wrote to a friend.

Bringing Hope in a dying world is our heart cry. That Hope on a starving person’s death bed is longer lasting than any hot meal. Of course, a hot meal is good and important too. But knowing that when they leave this world, even if they are all alone, that Jesus’ arms are open and, ready to receive them into eternity with Him is all that will matter then. That said, our prayer request is that this message of Hope will cross the language barriers, that Holy Spirit is active and Jesus is glorified.  That we will continue to hear and be obedient to God’s leading and that

His will be done!”  

Now might be a good time to pause from climbing the summit of success and define the hill upon which you are willing to die.

Maranatha!       

The Most Incredible Woman

And walking in Joseph’s shoes

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

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

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

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

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

His ways are not our ways.

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

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

Today I want everyone to know it.

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

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

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

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

MARANATHA!

Still Growing Down in Honduras

A Gray Hope Missionaries Update

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

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

Brokenness remains the key to missions.

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

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

That brokenness is not just historical.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

Becoming a missionary is volunteering for the valley.

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

  Thankfully we were both compelled toward the latter.

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

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

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

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

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

-Heidi Baker-

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

So we keep growing down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Do.

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

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

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

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

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

Our prayer is that the fateful become faith-filled.

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

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

Thy will be done.

Maranatha!

The Miraculous Mundane

How to name a puppy

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

Butterfly in our house

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

A Megido

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

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

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

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

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

Still, our dog did not have a name.

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

Carmen

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

Mariposa means butterfly. 

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

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

“Dog names should only be two syllables.”

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

“Mariposa”.

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

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

“Help me, honey.” She said.

On Saturday we had our usual children’s ministry.

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

“Mariposa!” Alicia blurted.

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

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

Nuestra el nombre del perrita es

Mariposa

(Our dog’s name is Butterfly)

Sometimes the mundane is the miracle.