1 Peter 2 begins with Peter’s exhortation that the newborn believers exiled in Asia Minor would desire the pure milk of the word so they would grow. Spiritual milk is the gospel of salvation and the resulting new identity we have in Christ. Eph 2:1-10 This is the foundation of Christianity and reality itself. If indeed you are in Christ, you are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.2 Cor 5:17 If indeed you are in Christ you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Many contemporary Christians lose sight of the fact that the purpose of milk is to grow teeth capable of chewing solid food. 1 Cor 3 The KJV calls it meat.
I prefer meat.
We made it to 1 Pet 2:4 in our Bible study last week.
…Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.1 Pet 2:4-5
Peter is quoting from Isaiah and Psalms. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.Psalms 118:22“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, and a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;Isaiah 28:16 Jesus is the living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God. …the chief cornerstone. We the church are living stones being built into God’s building. 1 Cor 3:9 Once again, the foundation laid by the Apostles is the Gospel. It is the template for reality. If that foundation is changed or corrupted the whole building will burn and collapse. 1 Cor 3:20-14 It is for this reason that Paul gives such a very dire warning.
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.Galatians 1:8-9.
Peter goes on to say that the purpose of God’s building (His people) is the offering of spiritual sacrifices. In the past, not even kings could offer sacrifices but only Levitical priests. In 2 Chronicles 26, the Lord struck King Uzaiah with leprosy for daring to offer incense on the altar of incense. Today believers are a Holy Priesthood. Our spiritual sacrifices include the sacrifice of praise, acts of charity, and submission to spiritual authority. Heb 13:15-17 We are to walk in love as Christ loved us. Eph 5:2 Most importantly we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. Rom 12:1-2 “Self” must be slain on the altar before we come boldly (as holy priests) to the throne of grace. Heb 4:16 This includes but is not limited to our self-image and facades, our pride, our rights, and if necessary our very lives. Rev 12:11 Not loving our lives onto death is a scary thought. But Jesus told us to fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which can destroy both soul and body in hell.Mat 10:28 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.Prov 9:10 This also is spiritual milk. Fear phóbos (terror) of the Lord is the terror associated with the idea of ignoring or rejecting Him. It begins with the recognition of our littleness, our weakness, our brokenness devoid of wisdom and understanding. As we mature, phóbos leads to reverence and awe more than terror as we behold and appreciate the awesome wisdom power, and grandeur of our sovereign God in the context of the Spirit of (our) adoption as sons… Rom 8:15 The reverence and awe that flows from sonship is a function of love and gratitude.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christprovided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Sometimes suffering is where the meat begins. Rom 8:16-17
Understanding the necessity of suffering only comes with maturity grown from a diet of spiritual meat. The transition from milk to meat begins when we find ourselves less and less consumed with self e.g. my identity, my calling, my comfort, my rights etc., and become so enamored with Him and His will that self drops away. You know you are eating meat when the words you’ve read a thousand times jump off the page and give way to deeper revelation and awe.
One of the most awe-inspiring, faith-building albeit mind-boggling aspects of God’s word is that scriptures written in the past tense may describe future events. For example, Isaiah wrote about Jesus in the past tense seven hundred years before He was born. David did the same in Psalms 22. Spiritual meat that reveals deeper truth nourishes faith that can endure testing and be proven genuine. 1 Pet 1:6-9
Why would God write about the future as if it already happened?
Did he intentionally confuse us? After all Solomon did write that, …he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.Ecc 3:11 In my experience, scriptures that conflict with my existential perceptions and understanding ofcreation, time and distance bring me to a crossroads of awe and doubt. Do I lean on my own understanding, remain wise in my own eyes and doubt the validity of the text? Prov 3:5-8 Or do I trust God’s word that tells us He saved us before He created us and allow the paradox to birth revelatory awe in my soul?
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Eph 1:4
Trust the Science.
As is often the case, the science with which so many try to refute God’s Word repeatedly validates it. Four hundred and fifty years before Jesus was born Solomon wrote That which is, already has been; that which is to be already has been; Ecc 3:15 Today the Theory of Special Relativity in quantum physics states that everything that is going to happen has already happened.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? … Rom 11:33-34, Isaiah 55:8-9, Job 38:4-7
According to these physicists, while everything that ever will exist already does exist, it is the act of observation on our part that brings each moment into what we call physical or experiential existence. The Bible uses the word “fulfillment”. If that sounds weird or “New Agey” then consider this.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Heb 11:1
What if we replaced the aforementioned “act of observation” with “faith”? Lots of believers attempt to walk this out individually, especially regarding healing. Miracles and healing do happen. However, statistically speaking, more often nothing happens. Now you might conclude that my observation of the “nothing” is the problem. But denial and faith are not the same. Perhaps the reason we fail to manifest the power that should attend our roll as priests is the fact that what we call the body of Christ amounts to what Art Katz called an aggregate of individuals doing their own thing. Perhaps the problem is that we are consumed with “My Identity” rather than
Ephesians 4:11-16 is the cry of my heart amidst pipe dreams of “unity in community” based on games, social gatherings, dinners, and birthday parties. Our identity will only be found when we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; We can get together over a taco at the drop of a dime. But to come together in His Word, according to His Word to search out the mysteries of His word Prov 25:2…well ya know I’m really tired and besides I have a birthday party to get to”… But what if unified corporate belief in His Word that produces faith Rom 10:17 is what is required for His biblical blueprint to be made manifest as reality? Ephesians 4:11-16
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting… Ephesians 4:11-16
The guiding principle behind the Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible Study is that we all see in a mirror dimly. 1 Cor 13:12 Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Rom 10:17 It follows that we all see and hear better when we do it together. Holy Spirit is our teacher. John 6:13
Still, how can unity of the faith happen when almost no one wants it? How do I know that no one wants it? Because as I showed in our previous post only 6-9% of professing Christians and 37% of pastors in the US have a Biblical worldview based on the Word that God exults above ALL His name. Psalms 138:2.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.Heb 5:12-14
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) John 18:10
I often wonder about Malchus, the servant of Caiaphas whose ear was cut off in the Garden of Gethsemane. Naturally, I did some digging. Ironically, the name Malchus means “My king; kingdom; or counselor”. The Bible doesn’t say what he believed before the attack. It would seem that he lived his life according to the collective religious consensus into which he was born. Like many people today, he probably never questioned the assumptions that undergirded his worldview. One day he was simply performing his usual duties when a lunatic named Peter chopped off his ear. If that wasn’t crazy enough the zealot insurrectionist named Jesus whom he’d come to help arrest picked up his ear and stuck it back on his head.
That Jesus’ final miracle before he was crucified was to miraculously restore Malchus’s ability to hear strikes me as poignant if not prophetic.
The Bible says nothing about Malchus after Jesus was arrested. But extra-biblical historical texts indicate that he was converted and went to live in a monastery in Greece until the end of his life.
Smart like a Rock
It is uncertain whether or not Peter was a Zealot (Jewish nationalist). We do know that his initial hope was in a physical messiah that would fulfill the prophecy as they understood it. Peter thought Jesus would conquer Israel’s enemies once and for all, and then reign like King David. More than a few professing Christians are prone to similar errors today.
But His “Kingdom is not of this world…” John 18:36
Peter is fishing, when Jesus calls Him. He simply drops his net and follows. The Bible isn’t clear about what went through Peter’s mind when he followed Jesus. But his actions before the resurrection imply anything but a divine revelation of Jesus’s true identity and plan.
None of the disciples truly understood Jesus until after the resurrection.
Peter’s first encounter with the true identity of Jesus is found in Mat 8:14-17 when He heals Peter’s mother-in-law. Healing is a primary basis of faith for many today. I could be completely wrong but I imagine Jesus rolling His eyes a lot. His healings often seem like a concession rather than His primary point.
So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”John 4:48
While I am only listing scriptures where Peter is at the center, we should keep in mind that he is present throughout all of Jesus’s teachings and miracles including His calming the storm. Mat 8:23-27
The next paradigm-shifting encounter comes when Jesus sends the disciples out in a boat and then follows them later on foot. Peter sees Jesus walking on water and tells Him to command him to get out of the boat and walk – if in fact, He is really Jesus. He does. So Peter gets out of the boat and starts walking. Then the wind scares him and he starts to sink.
Jesus takes Peter’s hand and pulls him up before admonishing him.
Peter had his eyes and faith fixed on Jesus as he stepped out of the boat. Then he was distracted by the wind. His focus moved from Jesus to his external circumstances and he began to sink.
If I am honest, I’m a lot like Peter. I know that I know I was supernaturally delivered from a point-blank shotgun blast and over two decades of addiction that I’d tried everything known to man to beat. It is empirically verifiable that my life made a 180-degree turn from that moment on. Still, I have occasionally been tempted to question and consider alternative explanations. Was that really you Jesus? It was of course. Still, it got me thinking. Maybe, miracles, signs, and wonders come with a shelf life. They point to the source upon which our focus should remain.
Or they expire and leave us craving another experience. Mat 16:4
In Mat 15:10-20 Jesus explains to the Pharisees that it’s what comes out of one’s mouth that defiles them not what goes in. Peter still doesn’t understand and Jesus explains it to him.
Next, we have an amazing display of discernment in Peter’s revelation that Jesus is the Christ to which Jesus replies “Uponthis rock, I will build my church.” Mat 16:13-18 Some people think Peter was the rock.
He was referring to Peter’s revelation that He – Jesus was the Rock.
Somehow Peter assumed the authority to rebuke the one he’d just acknowledged as the Messiah. Peter determined that he would not allow Jesus to go to the cross in fulfillment of Isaiah 53 and at least 351 other prophetic scriptures. So Jesus rebuked Peter,
Next, in Mat 17:1-8 Peter is one of the disciples accompanying Jesus to the mount of Transfiguration where He Jesus, attended by Moses and Elijah, reveals His deity. Peter was busy wondering if he should make tents for the three when suddenly,
“Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Later as they walked down into the valley. Jesus commands Peter and the others,
“Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”Mat 17:9
Apparently, this wasn’t a problem because based on their reaction to Jesus’ crucifixion no one understood what he was saying anyway.
Back in the valley, Peter watches Jesus cast out a demon and admonishes the other disciples for their faith that apparently was a lot smaller than a mustard seed. Mat 17:20
Next, we have money collectors asking Peter if Jesus will pay tribute in Capernaum. “Of course, He will”, says Peter. Then he asks Jesus. Jesus says “No”. But just to avoid offending people He tells Peter to catch a fish and give them whatever he finds in its mouth. Peter loves fishing. He finds a gold coin in its mouth and gives it to the collectors.
One would think that would have rattled Peters’s worldly paradigm.
Given that I can so identify with Peter’s misunderstandings, mistakes, and failures, I have to wonder. Was it apathy born of Peter’s familiarity with Jesus? Was Peter so consumed with his view of things and the hope of a coming overthrow of the Roman empire? Or was he simply naive and uneducated?
Jesus gives an in-depth teaching in Mat 18 about cutting off everything that leads to sin. Peter has heard all the other teachings about forgiveness and still asks ‘How many times do I have to forgive? Is seven enough?’
Jesus teaches about the potential bondage of material wealth in Mat 19 and finishes with the idea that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into the kingdom of God. Luckily all things are possible with God.
How does Peter respond?
Ok….but what about us? We gave up everything. What do we get? Mat 19:27 Like so many of us Peter lost sight of the fact that he already had the most valuable gift in Jesus Himself.
Well, Peter, here’s the deal. Y’all get to rule with me from 12 thrones in heaven.
Still, Peter sincerely loves Jesus. He swears that he is different from the others and will never deny Him. Jesus looks at Peter and says, actually Peter you will. In fact,
you are going to deny me before the rooster crows three times…Mat 26:34
Peter is incensed and responds with even greater determination. “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.Verse 35
Things come to a head in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter has one of the two swords that Jesus told them to bring. Jesus goes off to pray and asks them to watch and pray with Him. Naturally, Peter and the others fall asleep. Peter gets the brunt of Jesus’s anger. “So, could you not watch with me one hour?!” Maybe Peter is overcompensating for crushed self-esteem born of his failure. Now more than ever he stands ready to defend Jesus as the soldiers come to arrest Him. If I were Peter I probably would assume that Jesus told me to bring a sword so I could use it. I’d be wondering if this moment marked the beginning of the zealot rebellion for which I’d been waiting.
Peter swings hard. I’m guessing that splitting Malchus’s head was his goal. Instead, he misses and cuts off his ear. Malchus and Peter stare in dumbfounded amazement as Jesus exclaims “No more of this!”Luke 22:51 picks up the ear and reattaches it. Then He blasts poor Peter again.
“Peter! Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”John 18:11
It wasn’t long after that Peter denied Jesus three times. John 18:17-27
Jesus is crucified and resurrected. Everyone is standing around the tomb talking about the fact that everything happened just as Jesus said it would. Now what? Peter is even more confused than before. He runs into the tomb in apparent unbelief to see if Jesus’s body is there.
…for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.John 20:4-10
Soon after Jesus shows himself to the disciples. Peter still doesn’t get it and characteristically replies,
“I’m going fishing!”
He and the disciples spend a fish-free night on the water. In the morning Jesus calls to them from shore and instructs them where to throw their nets. Suddenly, “the one whom Jesus loved” (John) realizes it is the resurrected Jesus standing on the beach. What does Peter do?
He puts all his clothes on, jumps out of the boat, and swims to shore.
Later during a beach breakfast fish fry, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. The irony that Peter had denied Him three times just three days ago seems lost on Peter as he passionately affirms His love. Jesus replies that if Peter loves Him then he should “feed my sheep”. Then He prophesied Peter’s death. John 21:15-19 Peter still did not have the remotest clue as to what Jesus was saying as evidenced by Peter’s next question. What about that guy?John 21:21
“If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
How often have I been so focused on what I think God is doing or wants to do in others that I remain oblivious to what God was doing in me?
There is a story about Charles Darwin as he arrived in Patagonia on the HMS Beagle, a colossal steel brigantine ship. Darwin and his crew rowed ashore in rowboats. To his surprise, the Patagonians who had canoes themselves clearly saw the row boats. But they did not perceive the HMS Beagle. Why? Because a ship so large was so far outside the realm of their experience and resulting presuppositions that it was too much for their brains to process. Instead, their brains filtered it. They literally could not see it.
I often wonder, as I read about Peter, how much I fail to see?
Peter wasn’t stupid. He simply had his own ideas about God. They prevented him from seeing. It didn’t matter how many times Jesus explained God’s plan. Peter filtered what didn’t fit his paradigm.
In the Marine Corps, we referred to guys like Peter as “Rocks”.
Still, Peter’s heart and intentions were in the right place. It didn’t matter how many times he failed and was rebuked. Peter loved Jesus and never stopped pursuing Him. He remained “Semper Fi“. Ironically, it wasn’t until after Jesus ascended Acts 1:11 and Holy Spirit was poured out in the Upper Room that Peter finally understood everything Jesus had taught.
He preached the entire Gospel in his first sermon beginning in Acts 2:14-15
“For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel…”
Peter was apprehended by Holy Spirit in the upper room. Paul was apprehended on the road to Damascus. I was apprehended at gunpoint on a beach. We don’t know for certain what happened to Malchus and I may just be projecting. But I suspect he was apprehended the moment his hearing was restored. I know a lot of people who were miraculously apprehended by Jesus. I am convinced that a truly transformed life is always the fruit of divine apprehension, not merely an act of human will. John 15:16
Even so, our will often gets us into position for our appointed arrest.
1st and 2nd Peter address some hard topics. Let’s keep in mind that like Peter, every one of us is prone to be smart like a rock. It is only through the power of Holy Spirit in conjunction with the whole counsel of Godthrough His Word that we gain the right perspective and ability to joyfully walk out the hard things to which every Christian is called.
Eschatology: a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind. Merriam Webster Dictionary
Eschatology can be a touchy subject these days. Those who endeavor to understand it soon find themselves traversing a theological gauntlet. Today some sects and denominations reject those who do not adhere to their end-times doctrine. Add to that the multitude of failed end-time prophecies, in the 1970s and 80s and it’s no wonder that eschatology has become a proverbial hot potato that many pastors simply avoid. Still, if we adhere to the basic tenants of Christianity rooted in an eternal perspective, we will always begin with the end in mind.
Our view of the end drives how we live in the present.
Most people automatically think of the book of Revelation anytime the end times are mentioned. Yet it is a huge mistake to begin there. None of the New Testament existed when Jesus gave His near bullet-pointed eschatological discourse on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Even so, given that we are studying the Book of Ephesians it may be worthy to note that Ephesus is the first Church to be addressed in the Book of Revelation.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.Rev 2:4-5
Given the current and emerging state of Polycrisis in today’s world, more and more people are concerned about eschatology. That’s not a bad thing. The sheer number of unbelieving friends and family that suddenly wanted to know about the end times when COVID lockdowns went into effect made us realize that sometimes “eschatology drives discipleship”.
Still, there is a multitude of eschatological views and variations of those views regarding when and how the end times play out. Add to that the differing views regarding when a “Rapture” Harpazo takes place and you’ve got seeds of even more division. We think Jesus is super clear in Mat 24:29-31. Even so, we will be thrilled if we are wrong and receive early cloud tickets home.
Confusion arises when people trust their preferred eschatological experts without testing 1 Thess 5:20-21 or searching scripture to see if it is true. Acts 17:11 Reading books and listening to sermons about scripture instead of studying scripture itself is unacceptable 2 Tim 2:15. At the end of the day, eschatology should be studied like any other topic in the Bible. That means as literally as possible in the original textual, grammatical, and cultural context.
A common problem among those most interested in eschatology is viewing scripture through a lens of current events. The tendency is to focus on topics like the Mark of the Beast Rev 13 as people try to predict the identity of the antichrist and the trajectory of humanity toward the greatest tribulation.Dan 12Mat 24:21Rev 13 An unintended result is that the plans of the enemy may trump (pun intended) the return of Jesus as every disease, conflict, disaster, and member of the political and financial elite is falsely correlated with scripture.
This approach becomes most problematic when the resulting eschatological views become dogmatic. That’s what happened with people such as Hal Lindsey in the 70s and 80s. In the end, the multitude of false end times prophecies made Christians everywhere look like children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Eph 4:14 They also helped to validate things like New Atheism as those not firmly rooted and grounded in God’s Word continued to destroy the Christian witness with bad exegesis.
Hence not only can eschatology drive discipleship. Eschatology can also drive heresy.
We’ve studied it in depth and still only scratched the surface. If you still insist on studying eschatology; great. But let us do it soberly and well. 1 Thess 5:6 “Sober” is nḗphōto be calm and collected in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.
Our Hope in Two Parts
The Gospel message is two-fold. First, we have the fulfilled Gospel of Salvation whereby Jesus conquered sin and death and made a way for all people to be reconciled to the Father. Eph 2:8-10 Where people previously relied on a high priest to enter the Holy of Holies on their behalf Heb 9:7, Jesus tore the veil that separated us from God. Mat 27:51 Today we are able to come boldly to the throne of grace…on our own. Heb 4:16 This is the meaning of “It is finished”. The second part is eschatological, the Gospel of the Kingdom which is yet to be fulfilled. Rev 21-22 Together these define the Aramaic word
If we view the world and its events through the lens of scripture then we remain mindful that Judgement comes first to the house of God.1 Pet 4:17 Our first concern should be the status of the body of Christ, not the anti-Christ. Psalm 139:23-24, 1 Cor 1:10, Eph 4:13, Heb 12
Any correct view of eschatology prioritizes the fulfillment of God’s purpose and plan for His bride without spot or wrinkleEph 5:27. The endgame for the end of days is the full acquisition of our inheritance for which Holy Spirit deposited in every believer is
That’s not to make light of the gift of Holy Spirit but a call to be mindful of how much more is to come. This is the correct approach to eschatology. We must keep in mind that our inheritance will only be realized by individuals existing as part of a unified bride, not individual Gnostic Christians, prepping for battle with returning Nephilim and the antichrist. Regardless of how we imagine the end times, if we study eschatology as Jesus taught it we will see an emphasis ona call to endurance and faithfulness.Rom 5:3-5, Mat 24:13, Rev 12:11, Rev 13:10 Jesus framed endurance in the context of childbirth. Mat 24:8 Faithfulness carried to fruition looks like All attaining to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… Eph 4:13 Incidentally “manhood” does not refer to the masculinity of individual men any more than the spotless bride refers to individual women. Both are allegorical references to the body of Christ unified in Him. Eph 2:15-17
It’s no accident that Paul concludes Ephesians 5 with the image of marriage between a husband and a wife. The one newman and unity of the faith is represented in ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.Gen 2:24, Mark 10:7-8This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.Eph 5:32-33 It follows that the state of our marriages in the church reflects the state of the church and visa versa. Hence, our eschatology should be more focused on spot and wrinkle removal, unity in the faith, and maturity than on wars and rumors of wars over which Jesus said we should not be alarmed. Mat 24:6I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.2 Cor 11:1-3
The potential consequences of rejecting this essential foundation of eschatology are profound.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”Mat 22:11-14
The benefits of embracing it are beyond comprehension.
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”Rev 19:6-9
Our view of the end drives how we live in the present.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,Eph 5:11-13
Expose is elénchōbring to the light, convict, refute, confute, reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove, chasten, to punish.
Ephesians 5:3-20 addresses the issue of sin, in the church. …instead let there be thankfulness to God. It also instructs us to Look carefully then how we walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
The biggest question in our Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible Study this past week was “Exactly what do we expose and rebuke?” “What does that look like if we do?” Are we to simply reject those who are in sin as Eph 5:7 seems to imply?
Therefore do not become partners with them…
But Jesus hung out with sinners. Luke 7:34-35 Yes but He did not participate in their sin. That said, Ephesians 5 specifically addresses the issue of sin as it relates to believers within the church. Paul addresses the same subject in 1 Cor 5 when he orders the church “to deliver (The offender) to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”
Mathew 18:15-20 gives clear instructions for exposing and rebuking sin on an individual basis. Ephesians 5 goes deeper. In my opinion, we are to bring sin that might not be identified as sin to light so it can be clearlyseen, understood, and avoided.
…when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Eph 5:13
If you are young and or new to the church you may be unaware of the most recent spiritual attacks that produce unadulterated heresy. This is evidenced by a growing number of formerly biblically sound teachers like Tim Keller, Beth Moore, Mike Todd, and Andy Stanley to name just a few who have embraced aspects of what is commonly called WOKE ideology. WOKE ideology creeps into the hearts and minds of believers under the auspices of compassion and acceptance in a spirit of
Given the history of racism in the USA, especially in the South, the basic tenets of WOKE ideology seem righteous and loving. After all what kind of Christian supports racism or opposes justice for the oppressed? Given the history of publicly sanctioned atrocities e.g. slavery that occurred before the Civil Rights movement, only a monster would oppose a movement underpinned by the idea of making previous wrongs right. Micah 6:8 The question is not if righteousness is required but rather; what is righteous? The heresy begins when we regard the flesh as identity, mistake reparations for grace, confuse justice with equity, and love with acceptance of sin. At the end of the day, WOKE is another gospel for which Paul says those who preach it are accursed.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.Gal 1:8-9
He reminds us that we are soldiers in a war and instructs us how to fight.“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”. 2 Cor 10:4-6
Perhaps you have seen news footage of parents in front of school boards disputing the teaching of subjects like Critical Race Theory (CRT) and aberrant sexual behavior to children in schools. The normalization of all that was previously defined as mental illness is simply unfathomable to most. Hence much of Paul’s meaning in Ephesians 5 involves shedding light on the enemy’s methodologies in leading people astray. Eph 6:11
What is commonly known as Critical Theory and Post Modern Theory form the philosophical backdrop of the Woke movement. It is a mutation of an opportunistic virus created by Satan when he rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven. It is rooted in pride, fertilized by entitlement, and watered by conflict. Just as the Bible provides genealogies that culminate with the birth of Jesus, so does the WOKE movement have a satanic genealogy that culminates with the intention of destroying the Church and any civilization supporting it. For those who may be interested I have compiled a timeline listing people and events that directly influenced the replication and propagation of all that resulted in WOKE ideology up to 2021. You can download the PDF here.CRT History.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is often framed by words like “diversity”, “unconscious bias” or “sensitivity training” and always in the name of love.
The Woke Church is CRT applied to the gospel.
Again, as the aforementioned download shows, CRT is derived from failed Marxists in the Frankfurt School of Economics during the early 20th century. I say “failed” because Karl Marx believed in an inevitable violent revolution of the working class against the capitalist class. Rooted in the Hegelian Dialectic this revolution was to produce order out of chaos and finally a utopia. However, Marx did not account for the fact that while the rich indeed got richer under capitalism, the poor got richer too. When the Russian Revolution only produced greater economic disparity and human suffering, the Marxists returned to the proverbial drawing board. Given that Marxism requires conflict between oppressor and oppressed classes, Critical Theorists substituted race and gender for the previously failed model based on economics alone. Minorities and women became the oppressed and white males the oppressors. While it is certainly true that disparities exist in society and are problems to be overcome, they are a vital means to a desired outcome for these rebranded Marxists.
The keyis in the word “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, noncontradiction, and correspondence. Simply put, 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.
Critical Race Theorists are Cultural Marxists or Neo-Marxists.
Some dispute this title as “Marxist” is often regarded as a pejorative.
In more spiritual terms, Voice of the Martyrs founder Richard Wurmbrand wrote that Karl Marx a Jew by birth then “backslidden” Lutheran eventually became a Satanist. Fabian Socialism which is clearly Satanic, is the English version of Marxism that preceded and contributed to the development of Critical Theory in late 19th-century England. “Like critical theory, Fabianism was informed by Marxism and was responsible for the setting up of the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1895 to “study and eradicate social injustices and societal ills”– The origins of critical theory in education–
Fabian Socialism was a catalyst for Critical Theory in that they also recognized the futility of violent revolution and instead sought to transform society via social and ideological reform. Therefore deception is key.
“The Fabian window explicitly reflects the goal of the Fabian Society to portray an outward role contrary to its real character, i.e. to use deception in pursuing its ultimate aim. Specifically, a wolf in sheep’sclothingis the image which appears in the shield above the world being wrought in the Fabian mold.” The world is heated by socioeconomic and politically orchestrated chaos and then beaten into the desired shape by the proverbial Fabian Socialist blacksmiths. If we look closely we will see CRT and Fabianism working in harmony to undermine the Judeo-Christian foundations of Western culture.
Satan always comes as an angel of light 2 Cor 11:14 and always in the name of the greater good.
Antonio Gramsci was an inspiration for Critical Theorists. Imprisoned by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini Gramsci was the first to define socialism as a religion and stated “socialism is precisely the religion that must kill Christianity.” He is best known for his Prison Notebooks that inspired future critical theorists and formed the basis for the theory of hegemony whereby instead of a violent and bloody revolution Marxist goals could be achieved through institutional manipulation and coercion via institutions like media, religion, and education. His socialist religion was rooted in “trust in man and his best strengths as the sole spiritual reality.”
Not everyone needs to study and comprehend all the nuances of CRT and its proverbial cousins. But just in case you are still thinking these are coincidences rather than parts of an elaborate and very well-thought-out satanic plan…
In 1963 undercover FBI agent Cleon Skousen testified before Congress and outlined a45-point plan of the American Communist Party.(also a PDF download) Incidentally, the word Communist is from the “Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx. Here are a few points in the plan worthy of note for this discussion.
24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy, and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks, and retarding of children to the suppressive influence of parents.
As you can see they have been rather successful in promoting an agenda formed at least sixty years ago.
CRT Thinking Errors
Similar to atheists who frame their defense of atheism based on what atheism “is not” Today’s CRTs do the same when confronted with its abject lack of coherence. For example, if I dispute the framing of my identity as “white” on the grounds that it is racist, CRTs will readily admit that my “whiteness” makes me guilty of racism. However, “whiteness” has nothing to do with skin color. On the other hand, if I say a black person is being racist they will say black people can not be racist. Only white people can be racist.
But I thought it wasn’t about skin color?
That their reasoning is incoherent within an objective worldview is irrelevant. In their eyes, objective truth does not exist. They regard knowledge derived from critical thinking and logic as a form of colonialism. Basically, the evil, Christian, cisgendered white male-dominated patriarchy colonized all knowledge as a means of oppressing women and minorities. That this absurdity has taken root as truth should be regarded as a clear and present danger.
WOKE is a worldview.
As I’ve said, all world views are based on one or more empirically unprovable 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 inherent. “Objective” means it is coherent and corresponds to reality as defined by our orthodox Christian worldview and does not contradict scripture. A very simplistic example of objective truth would be that if I jump off a cliff I am going to hit the ground below. Or, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap…Gal 6:7-9 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. “Social construct” means man-made. The primary building blocks are language.
Hence what one says to a CRT 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 my insensitivity and admit I am wrong. In some places, insensitivity is grounds for being charged with a hate crime.
Postmodernism was a catalyst for Critical Theory to enter the church. Critical Theory is also veiled by the word “Progressive”. As is the case with Progressivism which views the US Constitution as a living document, Progressivism applied to Christianity views scripture the same. The understanding of scripture evolves in conjunction with the moral advancement of humankind. Gay marriage, Transgenderism, and abortion are moral advancements. If the Word of God is a living document its interpretation is always subject to revision according to our socially constructed reality.
Add CRT to the mix and traditional orthodox interpretations of scripture become invalidated due to their oppressive, racist, patriarchal roots. Hence today’s progressive WOKE church frequently frames Jesus as a revolutionary, who fought the patriarchy on behalf of the poor and oppressed. He was subsequently murdered by the same patriarchy for His impassioned pursuit of social justice. Hence, patriarchy in any form is always oppressive. This includes but is not limited to all creation governed by our Patriarch in Heaven.
Intersectionality further groups society based on subcategories of 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 validates and turbocharges the “victim stance”. For example, black is one group. Women are another. There are Muslim, gay, transgender, bisexual, nonbinary, soon-to-be Pedophiles a.k.a. MAPs (Minor Attracted Persons), and AI to name a just few. The point here is that a gay black, woman has more clout than a mere black woman. A gay, Muslim, black woman has even more. Oppressor groups have just 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 can only be oppressors. Again this is not because of anything they do but because of who they are. Any disagreement with this paradigm is labeled “White Fragility” which means an oppressor is too fragile and weak to accept culpability as the sole cause of all past and present social ills. Any denial of guilt is regarded as further proof of guilt.
Intersectionality defines reality and truth according to “lived experience”. This is called Standpoint Epistemology. Metaphorically speaking, “lived experience” is a form of social credit. These proverbial credit scores are elevated according to the number of intersectional groups to which one claims membership and their corresponding lived experiences as an oppressed person. Voddie Baucham called this “Ethnic Gnosticism” because it asserts secret knowledge held by the oppressed. The oppressed have the right to speak and to be heard. Those with the highest scores become influencers with the power to define truth. 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
Corporations can also be allies
Membership and participation in the “community” is their reward. Community membership is maintained by compliance with the group consensus. Consensus and acceptance are love. Disagreement is hate.
Hate must be canceled.
Scriptural meat that counters empty CRT 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 in practice is about redemption and reconciliation between mankind and God in Christ.
“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.” 2 Cor 5:16-19
CRT defines all human interactions according to power. Power and reparations are the goal.
Daniel interceded on behalf of Israel and modeled how we should pray to God regarding the collective sin of a nation Still, Christianity is predicated on repentance from personal sin. Forgiveness from God, and for others are core values without which it is impossible to be a Christian.
CRT is obsessed with the past collective sins of ancestors we never knew and for whose actions we are to be held responsible but never forgiven. Christian repentance and forgiveness are not possible in CRT 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 partial redemption. Redemption can only be partial because anti-racism work means continually identifying how one is a racist until the day that one dies.
Christianity maintains that everyone is created equal in the eyes of God and everyone is equal in the face of truth. Ethnicity and social status have no bearing.
“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
While Christians should be concerned about injustices like genuine active racial oppression, abortion, abuse, human trafficking, etc. true biblical justice is only promised in eternity. The American legal system was based on the premise that we are innocent until proven guilty and it is better that a guilty man go free than for an innocent man to be convicted.
CRT pursues social justice by aligning oppressed groups against designated oppressors for the sake of retribution and equity. One is guilty based on gender and race and unless proven to be a member of an oppressed group.
Equality versus Equity
CRT dismantles meritocracy and equal opportunity with the goal of achieving equity of outcomes. Everyone is to be rendered the same regardless of intelligence, ability, or effort. That the greater means of one person resulting from parents who worked sixteen hours a day to provide a better future for their children while those of another used drugs and refused to work at all is irrelevant. Unfortunately, just as impassioned Marxist revolutionary pawns learned during the previous century, applied Marxism never ends with equity for the poor but a consolidation of wealth and power among a ruling elite. Please understand, you are always facing a form of Marxism when the word “equity” is used in the context of social issues and social justice.
Wielding the Sword of the Spirit.
An entire counter-argument is contained in the scriptures that follow. I recommend copying the scriptures that resonate most with you. Formulate your own argument and be 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“Accuse” is katēgoréō from which the English word categorization is derived. Like Satan, CRTs forever classify 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, ethnicity, etc. Categorizing anyone apart from the Imago Dei and In Christ v.s. Not yet is demonic; period. God’s only criterion for acceptance is that we love and obey Him. 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 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 just 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 Woke ideology it is vital to understand that committed CRTs are never objectively 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. Instead, they divert the conversation, move the proverbial goalposts, 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, not the prophetic word that Jesus fulfilled in Luke 4:18. In my experience, there is little point in debating with them. Most importantly, be angry but don’t sin. Don’t give way to anger as their goal is often to trap us and invalidate our witness. Simply, define your terms, state your point, and preach the gospel. Any increase is up to God. 1 Cor 3:6-9
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 entire downward spiral to becoming reprobate. Almost every tenant of the Woke is addressed. Remember, hold your ground and reject Wokness knowing that it is the ideological spirit of the antichrist not the person in front of you that you oppose and seek to expose.
This PDF Download list of Bible verses is intended to help you frame a solid 1 Pet 3:15apologia regarding God’s view of humanity and expose the contrast between the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and the increasingly popular false gospel of the WOKE church. You may also be interested in reading how Jesus dealt with racism here.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.Eph 5:1-2
Beloved isagapētós: esteemed, favorite, worthy of love. It is the same word the Father spoke immediately following Jesus’ baptism.
“And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved (agapētós) Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Mat 3:17
God’s love in John 3:16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” is agapáō love in a social or moral sense, to be fond of, to love dearly.
The difference is subtle but profound. Agapáō in John 3:16 is the love with which He loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses…by nature children of wrath. Eph 2:1-3. This is a statement of God’s character. He loved us because of who He is despite who we were. In contrast, Agapētós in Eph 5:1 is a statement about us. As believers made alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,Eph 2:5-6 we are now esteemed as His favorites, worthy of His love.
The reason for the change in our status remains the same. For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.Eph 2:8-9 Nevertheless we have been promoted to the rank of favored children with Jesus and seated with Him as if we’d been there the entire time.
Let that sink in…
When viewed correctly this revelation should provoke both
Gratitude and Fear.
Historically, believers embrace one or the other. We are consumed with Rom 7:15-25 “Oh what a wretched man I am! Who will save me from this body of death?” Or we redact Romans 7 completely in lieu of Romans 8.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.Rom 8:1-2
Mind you this is Paul the Apostle speaking about himself. He went a step further in 1 Cor 4:13 when he described himself as the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. He said this in the context of addressing what I call “celebrityism” beginning in chapter three.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.1 Cor 3:7
“Celebrityism” is born of the “self” that Jesus requires us to deny. Mat 16:24 “I” becomes doctrine such that “My identity” supersedes His wherever “self” is not slain. It is so subtle, so seemingly normal that most do not give it a second thought. The doctrine of “I” is most clearly seen in an obsession with “My Ministry”, “My Calling”, “My gift”, “My significance” etc.
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?1Cor 4:6-7
“Celebrityism” begins with a sincere desire to be used by God and becomes idolatry when we idolize those we wish we could be in the world. “Celebrityism” is pride unwittingly instilled by culture. It is carnal- a work of the flesh. 1 Cor 3:1-4 It is a desire to be something or someone in the world in Jesus’ name. It is a fruit of immaturity, comparison, performance, and a perverted understanding of what it means to be
Many believers wrestle with the paradox of identity IN Him. Either we are so consumed with beholding our reflection in His eyes as we imagine it that we can not even see Him. Or we are so consumed with guilt, shame, and condemnation that we can not see Him. Either way, the enemy doesn’t care if we are consumed with narcissism or self-hatred. He only needs us to be focused on the unholy trinity of
Me, Myself and I
It’s been the same game since the fall when Adam and Eve’s attention went from perfect fellowship with God to an obsession with self when their eyes went from Him to themselves and they realized they were naked. Gen 3 The enemy doesn’t need us to choose sin. He just needs us to be focused on sin. He is perfectly happy to have me indulging with impunity or shamefully struggling in the flesh to avoid it. If only we would realize that all of us are born addicted to self, that
We’d understand our identity as beloved children and be free.
That identity is a dead child of wrath revived, redeemed, and now beloved because of who God is, not because of who I am. He does not need me. He wants me. His plans are not contingent upon anything I do or fail to do. My participation is an undeserved privilege granted to me as a beloved son. If I rule and reign with Him it is only because my life is in Him. Today, I do not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it because it is covered by the blood of Jesus. Hence, my brokenness has become my blessing, my rap sheet my resume. I don’t need to affirm my or your identity in Him because the “I” is dead or still needs to be slain.
“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes…”Eph 4:14
The Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible study made it to Ephesians 4:17 last week. We covered a lot. Someone briefly mentioned that it might benefit us as believers to remain ignorant of evil and its ways, otherwise known as human cunning, craftiness, and deceitful schemes...” After all, Smith Wigglesworth was so single-minded that he wouldn’t even allow a newspaper to enter his home. It makes sense within the proper context. That context is underpinned by fearlessness.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.1 Cor 16:13
The strength of which Paul speaks is characterized by complete surrender to God’s will in our circumstances regardless of how those circumstances appear to us.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need.I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Phil 4:12-13
We are not to be ignorant of satan’s devices lest he should take advantage of us. 2 Cor 2:11 Jesus commanded that His disciples be wise as serpents and gentle as doves as they went out among wolves. Mat 10:16
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet 5:8
Still, Churches like ours tend to focus on what God, not the devil is doing. Again, that’s a good and correct thing for most people provided they have also done all, to stand…Eph 6:13-14 and aren’t hiding from hard things because they idolize comfort and are terrified of losing it.
I felt a gnawing conviction after our study.
I have always been a watchman. Ironically it’s a calling I fully embraced until I moved to Tennessee. If I’m honest it’s the fear of man that zips my lips. I don’t want to offend the culture and people I love, and who thrive on joy.
Joy in the third world where we spent the better part of the last decade, is rooted in Col 3:1-3. I perceive that many American believers unconsciously correlate joy with their present health, wealth, and prosperity.
This is known as “Favor”
Facing the possibility of enduring suffering like so many believers around the globe already do is usually not a popular topic of discussion among contemporary lovers of His presence. Hence our stream’s foundational principles of “honoring first”, going “Low and Slow” and the oh-so-slippery slope of always “speaking things in love” can just as easily become justifications for me to bury my head in the sand.
Watchmen are often confused with prophets because they sometimes project future outcomes based on a current trajectory. But watchmen are not prophets. For example, David Wilkerson was a watchman who repeatedly corrected those who called him a prophet. He viewed the world through the lens of scripture. He could see where we were headed and called Americans to repentance. Jeremiah on the other hand, was a prophet to whom the Lord spoke directly about Israel’s future. For 40 years he called the nation of Israel to repentance.
Israel didn’t and neither have we.
I used to write blog posts from a watchman’s perspective. Posts like Truth or Trump and Better than Ninevah remain published. Others related to situations like COVID were removed because well… “what’s done is done”. More recent posts were never published because I got cold feet. It’s much easier and palatable to proclaim God’s goodness while ignoring His severity. Rom 11:22 This was the problem in ancient Israel, a nation whose moral decline so closely mirrors that of the USA today. Jer 14:13-22, Jer 23, Jer 28
A few days ago, the Lord led me to Ezekiel 33. It was as if I were reading it for the first time. Immediately I felt His rod of correction.
But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’ Eze 33:6
I confess that I’ve put my head in the sand. Not to hide from seeing and hearing. I put it there to silence myself for fear of offending those whose souls might be required at any moment. Luke 12:15-31
Forgive me, Lord! I repent!
I’m not being a “Debbie Downer” or a “Prophet of Doom” as some are sure to say. The fruit of the spirit including the genuine joy of the Lord does not change if I face plenty, hunger, abundance, or need. Granted, my mood might change if I get a million-dollar check in the mail versus a nuclear bomb in Nashville. But the genuine joy of the Lord is not determined by worldly circumstances. James 1:2 commands us to count it all joy when facing trials that test our faith… To count is hēgéomai and means to take authority.
Count it all joy is an offensive, rather than a defensive action.
In January 2020 I taught a “biblicized” version of The Fourth Turning to a group of young missionaries in Guatemala. In a nutshell, the authors, Straus and Howe framed history as a recurring cycle of approximately 80-100 years comprised of four “Turns” (think seasons) of 20-25 years. They are 1.”The High”, 2.”The Awakening”, 3. The Unraveling and 4. The Crisis. You can buy the book on Amazon or read my synopsis here.
Most of these 18-21-year-old “gap year” missionaries just rolled their eyes as I challenged their worldview. Others were angry because I’d called their previously prophesized dreams and plans upon which their joy was predicated into question. Less than two months later the entire world went into lockdown as COVID hit. Their dreams were squashed as they and 400 of their peers from around the globe were emergency evacuated back to the USA. Some barely got out before the borders closed. Suffice it to say that we are in a Fourth Turn now. Here are a few timely conclusions from the book.
“Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II…” “…The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule…”“…Through much of the Third Turning, we have managed to postpone the reckoning. But history warns that we can’t defer it beyond the next bend in time…”
Not since WWII, have we been at such risk for an economic collapse, unmitigated global crisis, and military conflict. Not since the Civil War have we been so divided as a nation. In the words of the World Economic Forum at Davos this year, “The collective vocabularies stored in the world’s great dictionaries didn’t appear to hold a single word, to sum up, all this strife. So here’s a new one:“
“The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2023 uses the term, to explain how “present and future risks can also interact with each other to form a ‘poly-crisis’ – a cluster of related global risks with compounding effects, such that the overall impact exceeds the sum of each part”.
Nothing is new under the sun. Ecc 1:9 And there is a time and a season for everything.Ecc 3:1-8 Crises or Fourth Turns have come and gone and come again throughout history. More often than not they arrive just as people assume peace and security. 1 Thess 5:3 Others clearly hear the trumpet but refuse to heed the warning. Eze 33:4
In any case, history teaches us that the primary determining factor in the outcome of any crisis is the individual and collective character of those upon whom the crisis falls. Sometimes God uses a crisis to produce character. Rom 5:3 In the end, Fourth Turnings, in particular, produce one of two outcomes. Either there is a return to traditional values, religious revival, prosperity, and freedom. Or people descend into darkness, moral depravity, persecution, and bondage. That said, it is within the context of bondage that God’s promise and warning in the oft-misquoted Jer 29 applies. Hence,
Fourth Turns (crises) are not a call to build bunkers or hoard ammunition, and gold, but rather a call to repentance, fearlessness, and faith amid turmoil.
It may be worthy of note that the word “Crisis” is derived from the Greek word Krisis which means “God’s judgment.” The purpose of God’s judgment, not to be confused with His wrath, is to discipline the rebellious and bring us to repentance.
Perhps one of the hardest things for believers to accept since the fall of man is that throughout human history “Adversity makes men. Prosperity makes monsters”. -Victor Hugo- 1 Tim 6:10
We were isolated in the mountains of Honduras after COVID hit and were amazed at the number of people back in the USA who contacted us with the question, “Is this the end of days?” Suddenly everyone was curious about God and His word. What a blessing it was to have an audience comprised of previously deaf ears. Alas, COVID passed, normalcy came back into view and people lost interest in the Bible. It seems they only cared about God when faced with the prospect of their imminent demise.
What determines a biblical worldview? you ask. Very basic tenants of the faith. Click both hyperlinks for details.
“But that’s not me. I have a biblical worldview,” you say. And maybe you do. The question is; how could so many professing Christians be so devoid of truth? John 17:17 It would seem that what many are calling revival is more in line with a great falling away. 2 Thess 2:3
The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself. -Augustine of Hippo –
Look maybe this Watchman stuff isn’t your cup of tea. Maybe you are already one who praises the Lord whether life gives you a proverbial massage or a kick in the butt. “It’ll all pan out.” I get it. But if you value seeing and discerning the time Mat 16:1-4, then join the discussion by subscribing by email in the sidebar as I may not link every post to social media. Hardly any of our readers link to us via social media anyway. I’ll categorize future Watchman posts under Red Pill Diaries.
Categories are listed above the title of each post.
Jesus said,“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”Mat 7:24-27
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Eph 4
The Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible study begins Ephesians 4 this week. Given the “season”, I’m going to jump ahead for in this blog post.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: Gen 1:14.
Seasons is “mowed“: “an appointed feast”.
Specific instructions and times for these feasts were given to Moses in Leviticus 23.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Lev 23:2
Convocation is “miqra“: a “dress rehearsal”.
What many regard as obscure, obsolete Old Testament feasts are in fact the Lord’s feasts appointed 1,948 years before Go made His covenant with Abraham. Gen 17 Each of the seven feasts is a type and shadow ofGod’s plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Eph 1:9-10
Passover Ex 12:1-11Lev 23:48 2023 began on April 5th at sunset. The Gospels tell us Jesus was crucified “on the day of preparation” John 19:14. “The day of preparation” was the Jewish idiom for “Friday”. John is referring to preparation for the Sabbath that fell during Passover week. It was not the preparation for the Passover meal that Jesus had already eaten. Mat 26:17-29 The Feast of Unleavened Bread Lev 23:6-8 begins on Passover and continues for seven days. Jesus was crucified during Passover and resurrected three days later on the Feast of First Fruits. Lev 23:10-11 The day after Passover begins the Feast of Weeks and the counting of the Omer (sheaves of wheat) for fifty days leading up to Shavuot Lev 23:15-16. Passover to Shavuot marks the beginning and end of the wheat harvest. Christians call Shavuot Pentecost because it means “fifty”. One hundred twenty people waited fifty days in the upper room until Pentecost was fulfilled in Acts 2.
When the law was given from Sinai, God appeared in a thick cloud. Exod 19 Then the Lord spoke to the Israelites from the midst of the fire Deut 4 He showed them his great fire and they heard his words from the midst it. In Jerusalem, there was the rushing of a violent wind from heaven divided tongues, as of fire, which rested upon each one of them, and the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel in tongues. Acts 2 The Old Testament Pentecost was the giving of the 1st Covenant, the Law. The New Testament Pentecost was the giving of the 2nd Covenant, the Holy Spirit.
As For Easter…
“Easter actually originated as an ancient pagan celebration of the spring equinox. In Christianity, the day was dedicated to observing the resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated around the time of the Jewish Passover. However, with the spread of the Gospel of Christ, early Christians who did not participate in Jewish customs eventually merged their observances with the pagan spring festival, recognizing Easter as “resurrection day.”History of Easter
The Passover meal that Jesus ate with His disciples and is repeated yearly by Orthodox Jews and Messianic believers is called the Seddar. It has fifteen steps the first of which is the removal of Leaven from the home. Leaven (yeast) represents Egypt out of which Israel emerged into the desert. For us, it is worldliness, false teaching, sin, etc. The leaven is not to be touched so the father takes a candle for light and a feather and goes about the house sweeping the hidden leaven into a bag. When all the leaven is collected both bag and feather are burned. Of course, yeast is not found scattered in most houses today. Therefore pieces of unleavened bread are traditionally hidden like the pagan easter eggs parents hide for children today.
Jesus was removing Leaven in John 2 when He cleansed the Temple during the feast of Unleavened Bread.
It was Passover when He fed the five thousand and The Feast of Unleavened Bread when He declared
Where Passover represents our justification (the remission of sin), The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents our ongoing sanctification. Justification is an exclusive work of God. Sanctification takes place in partnership with God. Justification is instantaneous. Sanctification is ongoing as we become Holy even as He is Holy. “Holy” is to be separate from the world.
Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 2 Cor 6:14-18
This is not an obsolete Old Testament ceremonial law but a New Testament command for those already justified by grace through faith. Eph 2:8-10 Our part in sweeping the leaven from our lives is illustrated by Paul in the book of Romans.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.Rom 12:1-2
As for those who claim the feasts are not for today Paul is clear that they are. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.1 Cor 5:8
Leaven includes but is not limited to the thoughts, words, and actions that we do not want to acknowledge as sin. It is the worldliness we justify, rationalize, and minimize to avoid the fact that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Opposition implies stubbornness which is idolatry. 1 Sam 15:23 Active opposition looks like a violent attack.
Leaven compels us to make idols of politicians, celebrities, political parties, denominations, faith streams and wealth, etc. Mark 14:8-20 Leaven might be the music or tattoo that we think gives us the “cultural cred” we covet. We rationalize that they open doors for the gospel.
Leaven is the beloved tradition that emerges from syncretism. Syncretism pleases man in the name of God rather than God for the sake of man.
Leaven is false prophecy, false signs and wonders, and, the false teaching that deep down we suspect or even know is unbiblical.
Leaven confuses loyalty with faithfulness, pride with anointing, intention with action, and cognitive dissonance with faith. Leaven fuels offense and even rage when our loyalties and wrong beliefs are challenged. Leaven always seeks its own and with it approval from the world rather than God who opposes it. 1 John 2:15-16
I’m not a Methodist. But given that I live in Appalachia, I find the alleged connection between John and Charles Wesley, the Methodist revival, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread rather poignant. After having profound personal encounters with God, the Wesleys preached the necessity of sanctification through personal holiness in thoughts, words, and actions. This is the point for Christians during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was in this context that Paul wrote.
Now, this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Eph 4:17-32
…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night.Psalm 1
The word “meditate” in Hebrew means to chew as a cow chews its cud. Cows have four stomach chambers. Hence every bite is thoroughly chewed four times over.
As we’ve said, unity is the underlying theme in the book of Ephesians. Paul sums up the unity between Jewish and Gentile believers in the conclusion of Ephesians chapter 2.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…vs 19 Inhim, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Vs 22 This is not just a fleeting epiphany.
The language is mysterious which is fitting because Paul calls it a mystery in Ephesians 3:3 and repeats it in verses 4, 6, and 9. Ideological importance in a passage or book can often be identified by the number of times a word or phrase is repeated. Galatians 1:8-9 and Luke 13:1-5 are two examples. If you’ve ever read an in-depth commentary then you know that Bible scholars frequently count the number of times words are used when establishing authorship as well the primary theme. It is for this same reason that most online bibles will tell you the number of times a word occurs in the Old and New Testaments.
The mystery of which Paul writes is that before the foundation of the world God planned to save both Jew and Gentile in Jesus creating in himself one new man in place of the two. Eph 2:15 Paul says this mystery was revealed to Him by God. And while he does not formally declare himself to be a prophet, this revelation exemplifies the nature of true prophecy which is the testimony of Jesus.Rev 19:10
While not explicitly stated, the implication is that the depth of our understanding of the mystery is contingent upon our unity. This is more clearly illustrated in chapter 4.
…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— Eph 4:13-15
The current denominationalism a.k.a. the fragmented church, is full of winds of doctrine, craftiness, and plotting. Even so, each one has a piece of the truth puzzle. Unfortunately, each denomination thinks it has the whole puzzle and unity will only be achieved when everyone conforms to their piece.
The Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible Study
Cathy and I open the church doors and set up the chairs each week to make space for two or more to gather together in the name of Jesus. We study and present the pieces of the mystery that we think we’ve grasped albeit with our blurred vision and partial knowledge. 1 Cor 13:12 Others come alongside us and do the same. I think I can say that when the session ends we each walk away with more insight than we could have obtained on our own. This weekly experience lends deeper context to “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Mat 18:20 This is what we mean when we say,
We all see better when we see together.
With the theological foundation for the church now laid, Paul prepares to frame the building by summarizing the church’s ultimate purpose in Eph 7-13
Of this gospel, I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given to me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. Eph 3:7-13
It is worth noting that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. This was after he’d met with the Ephesian elders in Miletus Acts 20:29-30. The elders wept because Paul knew he was destined for prison and eventual execution in Rome and they would see his face no more vs 38. Paul doesn’t want them to worry and mourn for him because it was God’s will that Paul suffers for them which was their glory. While many avoid talking about it, suffering is another aspect of the mystery and unity.
What most caught my eye in this chapter was that the purpose of the church is to make the manifold wisdom of God known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
1 Peter lends some insight.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Pet 1:6-9
That as a church we would believe John 1:12-13 and stand Eph 6:13 and rejoice in our suffering Rom 5:3 and conquer by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, and love not our lives even unto deathRev 12:11 and all this by faith rather than sight2 Cor 5:7 apparently amazes the good rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. It stumps and defeats the evil ones.Eph 6:12
Certainly, these are some of thethings into which angels long to look. 1 Pet 1:12
Also, consider that Angels can not be saved. The third of them that fell are already condemned with no hope of redemption. They have no experience of grace or regeneration. They can not be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, or delivered from sin. And yet the remaining two-thirds are our fellow servants. Rev 19:10
The more I dig into the Word of God the more mystified and awed I become. Ephesians 3:10 should produce the fear of God. After all, we have such an important mission contingent upon unity, and yet we are so divided as a global body.
How will we ever come to the unity of the faith?!
What exactly is it that keeps us so divided? Is it envy, pride, laziness, ingratitude celebrity worship, or genuine confusion?
Maybe it’s all of the above. Or maybe we just don’t fear God. Prov 9:10
My friend Tyler and I were discussing how little we actually know about the world in which we live. Yet we go about our daily lives as if the mysteries of creation have been revealed. Many will readily admit they do not know how things work, that science is a mystery. They just trust the scientists. Those who understand the nature of science know the absurdity of that statement. For example, while theories abound we still don’t know what electricity is.
“Why it’s a flow of colliding electrons!” you say.
Ok. But what are electrons?
Turns out those neat little electron orbits that they showed us in middle school aren’t accurate. Based on the findings of a guy named Heisenberg scientists can not prove that electrons don’t pop in and out of existence or bounce between dimensions.
Everyone knows that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and a cup of water freezes faster than a lake.
Speaking of gravity one of the most interesting theories known as String Theory fully supports the fact that Jesus, the Word, spoke creation into existence. Gen 1, John 1:1-3 According to String theory the subatomic particles of which the universe is composed are made of sound frequencies like individual musical notes. Words are composed of letters that represent sounds or frequencies.
In the beginning, was the Word…
Please don’t feel pressured to leap down the aforementioned rabbit holes. My point is that we exist in a realm of mystery that we know very little about. What we do know is that any knowledge we have concerning the mysterious, manifold wisdom of God ultimately only comes by revelation. While secular society may regard scientists as an all-seeing priesthood, many of our best inventions arose from what secularists call accidents.
The truth is we wouldn’t even have a thing called science were it not for God-fearing Christian men and women who saw a world governed by objective laws created by the objective lawgiver – God. They saw the complexity in the creation and knew it was designed by Him. God veiled the glory of His design in a mystery. These men and women were compelled to search it out. Prov 25:2 Anyone who reads the life stories of men like Sir Issac Newton, Blasé Pascal, and Max Planck to name a few will clearly recognize the revelatory nature of their discoveries.
Nothing is by accident.
I suspect that the unity of the faith will only be realized when God humbles us through various means such that every member in the body of Christ realizes that all is a mystery and none of us knows anything apart from or beyond that which God gives. 1 Cor 4:7
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
It is for this reason that Paul warned in the previous verse, donot depart from what is written. 1 Cor 4:6
Believers everywhere are and always have been crying out for revival. Others say it is upon us. However, the Biblical World View has been in steady decline for years. As of 2021, only 6% of Americans were following a Biblical Worldview. From a purely scriptural viewpoint, these stats seem more indicative of a falling away2 Thess 2:1-3 than the cusp of a major revival. Then again repentance always precedes and accompanies true revival.
Maybe we need to repent?
If I am perfectly honest when I look at the body of Christ today I see a growing number of fractures and a lot of what I call “Harry Potter Christianity” that results when people depart from what is written. I can’t help wondering if these are the times when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.2 Tim 4:1-4
Perhaps we should ask ourselves. Do we depend on Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised would leadall of us into all truth? John 16:13 Do we take the words of Jesus seriously; Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth? John 17:17 Or are we always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim 3:7 Do we believe He is there when two or more of us are gathered together? Or does he only speak to an anointed celebrity few that we must chase from conference to conference in the hope of receiving an impartation? If in fact, we know Jesus is in our midst shouldn’t we be hungry to embrace the royal privilege we’ve been given together and search out the matter of truth in His Word that He breathed?
Please don’t misconstrue my constant emphasis on the Word of God. I am not minimizing any other aspect of our faith. Jesus said the gospel of the kingdom WILL be preached to all the World. Mat 24:14. The unity of the faith is a benchmark goal. That being said, if we believe that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God Rom 10:17 then it follows that unity of the faith will only berealized in and through the Word of God. In our experience, a deeper comprehension of the mysterious manifold wisdom of God is always the fruit of such fellowship.
Enantiodromia is a Greek word that means “running in opposite ways”. Its contemporary use began when Carl Jung coined it to describe the tendency of one extreme to give birth to its polar opposite. Enantiodromia is most easily depicted in a pendulum where the extent of one swing is largely determined by the extent of the previous one. We see it in history where uber-conservative societies become licentious and vice versa. Perhaps it is most evident in Christianity and politics, especially when the two are combined.
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” ECC 1:9
As I’ve said before, the mission field taught us a lot about the goodness and faithfulness of God amdist life-threatening situations and everything in the natural going wrong, amidst all of our earthly expectations being unfulfilled. We have come to understand that suffering is and always has been the norm for most of the world. Now we are in Greeneville Tennessee ministering to equally broken people and the as of yet unbroken one percent
whom God loves as much as the other ninety-nine.
We have found the tribulation of Rom 5:1-5 and the patience of James 1:1-4 to be vital in our understanding of the word of God and God’s ultimate plan. We have purposed to walk all of this out in the context of Prov 3:5-8. God always provided exactly what we needed to survive despite our not having a paycheck for 6 years. He guided us to whom we should serve and provided for them too. He will continue to provide because
He is the provider.
The proverbial midnight hour is His favorite time to come through.
We have learned the “name it and claim it” prosperity theme that undergirds so much of contemporary theology often results in confusion and frustration because people askamiss that they may spend it on their pleasuresJames 4:2-4. That might be a hard word for those who have never experienced the conditions in which the majority of His bride currently resides. We have seen a similar error in gluttony for signs, wonders, and demonstrations of power. I sometimes wonder; is it unbelief or are people just bored with T.V.? Jesus did not come to entertain us. He came to destroy the works of the enemy. Interestingly He was rebuking the Pharisees when he declared “a wicked and perverse generation seeks after a sign.” Later in the same chapter, He warned about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees who in addition to being the religious leaders of the day were also opposing, political factions. It was amidst this political and religious division that the Sons of Zaddock set themselves apart from the leavenous religious and political turmoil to preserve the genuine Jewish calendar and scriptures at Qumran.
We have learned that the purpose of prayer is for us to align with God’s will – not to align 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, that earthly comfort and prosperity are incidental to His purpose.
Tribulation is not.
We have learned that the Christian walk is NOT about OUR blessing. It is a stripping away of our self-centered desire to be blessed. It is a 1 Corinthians 3:15 burning up our cravings and fluff. A Heb 12:27 shaking of our silly significance, self-image, performances, facades, and narcissism to reveal the Romans 7:24 body of death that hangs around all of our necks for which God gave His only begotten Son so that all who believe would be saved and walk in Romans 8:1-4 freedom.
We have come to understand that our life is not about OUR identity.
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. This dying is a vital step in our continued healing. James wrote “let patience have her perfect work so you may be complete desiring nothing”,‘Nothing’ismēdeís – desiring nobody, nothing. Not one man or woman or anything. We understand that this makes zero sense to those who presume to teach and promise prosperity, justice, and Heaven on earth now. It’s a genuine paradox until we take that first step in obedient faith. We have friends whom we deeply love and who insist on preaching these very things that we have already obediently rejected – the things that Jesus rejected. Luke 14:26. As scary, enigmatic, and lonely as this sounds it is not because He doesn’t want us to have anyone or anything. Rather He wants His desires to become our desires. Psalm 37:4 He wants to give us everything – to have what He has. He can’t do that if our hearts, and minds, are full of our own cravings, and ideas about how things ought to be.
His will won’t be done in our lives if we are fighting Jesus in Jesus’s name.
People often cite Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses in 1571 as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Yet the English Reformation preceded it by 40 years when Mary Queen of Scots, a devout Catholic, began ordering the deaths of hundreds of protestant heretics in Jesus’s name.
John Hooper the Bishop of Gloucester was among the first. The queen somewhat graciously offered Hooper a pardon provided he would publicly recant his anti-Catholic views. He refused and was sentenced to be burned at the stake. As the story goes, high winds on the day of his execution made it hard to get a suitable fire started and only Hooper’s legs and groin were burned. One might think he’d have been tempted to change his mind and recant. Instead, he cried out,
“For the love of God, good people, let me have more fire!”
Hooper defiantly beat his chest until his arm fell off. He did the same with the other until it also fell off.
Eventually, these stubborn Hooper-inspired reformers prevailed and became the dominant political force under Queen Elizabeth, a devout Protestant, and the Church of England was born. Ironically, this new and allegedly doctrinally sound church held onto some Catholic traditions like “vestments” (Priestly garb) along with some other liturgical traditions. Some believers became incensed. They saw it as clear evidence that the spirit of the antichrist was in their midst. So, they split from the apostate Church of England, and the Puritan or the “Precisionist” movement was born. The Church of England’s clergy were quite offended of course. And it didn’t take long for the very people who had survived Mary’s reign of terror to begin arresting, jailing, torturing, hanging, drawing, quartering, castrating, and disemboweling their Puritan brethren
in Jesus’s name.
Some fled to Amsterdam in 1608 where the Lutheran Reformation was in full swing and the myriad core protestant denominations were formed. Among these were my own ancestors, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins who eventually left for the New World on the Mayflower. John Alden was among the men who signed the Mayflower Compact. He served as assistant governor of the Plymouth colony from 1631 until his death in 1687.
He persecuted Quakers and Baptists in Jesus’s name.
Two years ago Amos 3:7 was foundational for those wanting to believe in a God-ordained, prophetically declared election outcome.
“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. 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 because
The inane politicization of the Christian faith has always resulted in absurd, blasphemous and sometimes dangerous theology. It always has and always will divide the body of Christ from Him and each other. Each swing of the pendulum produces more Mary Queens of Scots and John Hoopers. At best we will remain divided until we realize that we are one body, one bride united in the same mind and same judgment that He intends to make spotless and that His Kingdom is as Jesus clearly stated,
If it were His disciples would have fought and killed for it as when 1000 Sicarii Jewish Patriots tried and failed to make Israel great again at Masada in 73 AD. Most of them ended up killing their wives and children and then themselves rather than surrender.
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. Acts 10:34-35
It occurred to me as I traveled to so many places on the mission field that at any time my government could label the people I served as enemies and my children could be sent to kill them. My grandmother was a missionary in China and left just before the Japanese invaded.
Today we have Christian Nationalists prepping to fight China or Russia. Meanwhile, I live in a Tennessee county that was divided during the Civil War. Today Christian Nationalists and Marxian Leftists are discussing the likleyhood of yet another one to be fought in Jesus’s name. At some point, the body of Christ needs to own the hypocrisy of singing “God Bless America” while cheering the bombing of His people to hell in Jesus’s name. Like it or not we were not given the ministry of political transformation. We are given 2 Corinthians 5 ministry of reconciliation.
In Jesus’s name
Today the Church has so many false gospel flavors that align with what entitled itching ears want to hear. We have the left-wing WOKE gospel with its neo-Marxist roots. We have the right-wing replacement theology that makes the church into God’s chosen over the rejected Jews and the USA into Jerusalem. We have Christian nationalism and progressive Christianity that mix the aspects above in varying degrees. There are Christian witches and New-Age Christians. We have Interfaith, Chrislam, and the Perennialism of Oprah and Richard Rohr. We have a prosperity gospel, 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 even have emerging AI Christians ready to evangelize those worshiping an AI God in the metaverse. Instead of screening our views in accordance with Paul’s warning in Galatians 1:8-9, we divide ourselves based on our subjective opinions of how the world ought to be and the resulting constructs of God’s and our identities.
Today a few of the previously fervent “Trump prophets” are saying that Trump lost in 2020 because America and especially God’s people did not turn from their 2 Chron 7:14 wicked ways. Maybe it’s just me but I really didn’t need a prophet to tell me that. God has always given a nation its leaders based on the righteousness of the people.
2 Chron 7:14 has always applied to God’s people first even though we often apply it to everyone but ourselves.
He will heal our land if we repent.
Repentance for the body of Christ begins with asking ourselves, “Is Jesus being lifted up, or is someone else being glorified in His name?”“Am I really praying “Thy will be done”? or do I want my will done in Jesus’s name? Are we being led by Holy Spirit as we mediate on God’s word? Or are we being led by books written and promoted by celebrity pulpits? Do we believe what God has already said?
Or do we believe God changes in accordance with what we want to hear?
We have justified our blood-thirsty patriotism with our opposition to abortion. We pointed the finger and demanded repentance from those who don’t even know Jesus. Now we cheer over the repeal of Roe V Wade. But Roe V Wade never was a law. Neither is its repeal. It has only clarified the division between those who would never choose abortion and those who always will. Meanwhile, we remain one nation under God, subject to His discipline in Jesus’s name.
As a nation, we are perverting the Imago Dei by sexualizing children, normalizing paraphilias, and following the exact path of reprobates whom Paul described in Rom 1:18-32 and Jeremiah rebuked for 40 years. We shake our heads and roll our eyes in disgust when we learn that some schools in the so-called Bible belt provide litter boxes for kids who identify as “Furries” and send our kids back to school the next day.
Our silence about the hard things guards our comfort. Our willingness to cheer others who contend with evil preserves our vicarious self-righteousness.
We sing and pray and cry out for revival but we won’t sweep the leaven from His temple and our own lives. We are far too concerned with preserving our grandiose illusions about our identities. We won’t allow, let alone invite God to search and try us so we can truly heal. If we are biblically literate and even a little honest we see that the USA fits the type and shadow of Ninevah in the Book of Nahum or maybe Babylon in Revelation 18.
We’d rather imagine ourselves as a repentant Israel under Cyrus in Isaiah 45.
While I wish him no harm, and might even vote for him if he runs again, I often wonder if God won’t take Donald Trump out completely for the sake of His biblically confounded bride. That so many continue to proclaim any political party or candidate as a fulfillment of the gospel of the Kingdom is absurd. What frustrates me most is that political leaven is just one of many reasons why our witness is so powerless and that only 6% of Americans today have a biblical word view. It is why the left correlates Christians with Nazis, atheists call us crazy,
And young believers deconstruct in droves.
Listen, I have no issue with those who want to improve our country and way of life. After all, God calls both politicians and plumbers. I happen to think plumbers are more valuable and honorable. But if politics is your call then go for it. I do have a problem with those who believe the Bible and God’s plan are about MAGA, Social Justice, or any other false gospel. Those who would question or mock my political atheism should consider Galatians 1:8-9 and maybe do a word study on “accursed” – “Anathema“
Our experience on the mission field and countless others like us is proof that God is true to His word, that the true Gospel is the only answer for humanity and He preserves us in accordance with His will despite external circumstances. The abundant life is found in deliverance from all that holds us captive, Luke 4:18, the wounds that cause us to devour one another in Jesus’s name. Psalm 147:3 That abundance often comes with repentance amidst tremendous suffering and loss. Those who insist on fighting an earthy battle in the flesh, against the flesh for their best life now may soon find themselves fighting against God Himself in Jesus’s name. These will almost certainly be caught in a snare. Luke 21:35 What do you think? Will we learn from the past and repent before it’s too late? Will they know us by our endurance and love? Or will there be more John Hoopers before we are done? Mathew 10:16-18
“In the crushing, in the pressing, you are making new wine.”– Hillsong Worship-
So we made it to Greeneville Tennessee, a place that five months ago we didn’t even know existed when God so clearly called us here. Everything that could have and should have gone wrong during our transition didn’t. Every good thing that shouldn’t happen so easily did. We are now living in the friendliest place I’ve been to date. Even the most menial, and in my case, normally irritating tasks like getting the water turned on and opening a bank account turned out to be the most fun I have had in a while. The bank was the best because they served gourmet chocolate chip cookies and coffee. I know. I’m like a little kid. The point is we are adjusting remarkably well. Still, there are periodic reminders that I am still in the process of reentry from the mission field.
Yesterday I finally realized that “Ingles” is not a Hispanic store for English speakers.
Holston Home where I now work is one of the most incredible places I’ve been. It began as an orphanage over one hundred years ago. Today it is a place of healing for traumatized children and sometimes their families. It’s a job for which I am particularly qualified. Not because of my professional counseling background but rather because each day that I work I come face to face with my broken teenage self who grew up to become an even more broken parent and eventually healed.
Those who regularly read these posts know my walk with the Lord began in jail. What many don’t know is that my former wife also went to jail and our two children went into foster care. My ex-wife was released before me and so the kids went home with her. But she was broken beyond repair. I was told that the court wanted to place the kids with me but I wouldn’t be out for another year. One day, I was summoned to the guard shack. My lawyer was on the phone. She told me that something horrific had happened to my children as a result of my ex-wife’s lifestyle and acquaintances. The courts wanted to terminate her parental rights but according to the law, they could not terminate one parent’s rights without terminating both. I realized at that moment that there was only one way to end the cycle.
I told my lawyer to terminate my parental rights.
It was ten years before I heard of their whereabouts. Needless to say, I paid a huge emotional price and I questioned my decision through the years. Today my daughter is married with a son and works as a manager for an import-export company. Last I heard my son builds cellos for a living, is studying pre-med, and has a girlfriend he loves.
My ex-wife died as a result of IV drug use.
I’m not sure if the Lord brought me to Holston Home because I know what it means to be broken like the children here or because I was broken like their parents.
Maybe it’s both.
The boys with whom I work like that I’m a former Marine, especially those that need to borrow my self-control. That’s code for physical restraint. I guess it’s cooler to be taken down by an Ex-Marine than a five-foot female.
Of course, that is also a key to what ails them.
We got COVID shortly after returning to Kauai from Honduras and I took it like a hardcore former Marine who knows how to stuff any and everything he feels. I even interviewed for my current position at its peak. I felt horrible.
“If you like me now, you’ll really like me without COVID!” I joked via Whatsapp
The qualifying question during the interview seemed to be “how would you react if a kid called you every name in the book?” I said something to the effect of
“Why I’d feel right at home.”
Humor has always been a key to my resilience. But perhaps you see the connection between that and what ails the boys.
It was 4 am in Hawaii and near the end of my bout with COVID. I was sitting in a recliner because it hurt too much to stay in bed. My fever was breaking and I was getting the chills. The temperature outside was 70 degrees. I was bundled up in sweat pants and a thick hoody under a comforter but I just couldn’t get warm. I was shivering and shaking.
Sometimes it takes a physical affliction to disarm us and reveal more truth.
All at once, I was 15 again, the same age as my grandson Elijah, the same age as the hurt broken boy I recently “lent my self-control”. It was Christmas Day 1979. I’d been living alone in a house with three finished walls and no heat. It was minus twenty degrees outside and maybe 20 degrees inside. Everyone in town knew my situation but no one said anything, let alone did anything. I became the “bad kid” that everyone wanted to keep their kids away from lest I corrupt them. Now I was a lonely kid under a blanket, desperately trying to keep warm. I remember trying to be tough – trying to be hard as I strengthened the imaginary armor I’d created to protect me from a brutal world. I stoked the fires of my anger as I very intentionally transformed all my grief into rage. Anger became the energy source that kept me warm and safe. I would eventually use that anger to throw my father through a wall when he showed up and took a swing at me during an argument.
I began shivering and sobbing like a little child in the recliner. I tried to choke back the tears at first but I’ve learned through the years to let the tears flow when they come. I must have been pretty loud because I woke Cathy up and soon she was by my side holding me and weeping with me as I choked out the memory between sobs. The connection was made, we prayed. Healing came with a deeper revelation of why we were going to Tennessee.
I sometimes joke that most kids run away from their parents but I was so bad that my parents ran away from me. Sometimes it’s genuine humor. Most times it’s a sign of some residual armor that needs to be stripped away and tossed. That’s just part of the continued process of sanctification as we are being conformed to the image of Christ. The fact is that I was a deeply hurt and broken child well into adulthood.
There’s no room for armor and false pretenses in the Christian walk.
To this day I don’t really know, let alone understand what happened to my parents – to my family apart from generations of bitterness and unforgiveness. I once asked my dad as an adult, if there was one thing about his life that he could go back and change; what would that be? “I wouldn’t have had ” F-ing” kids!” he replied.
“You guys ruined my marriage.”
I love my dad. He died several years ago. I got the call while leading a middle school process group of 13 and 14-year-old boys. Ironically they were complaining about their fathers. “What’s wrong Mr. Gray?” they asked as I hung up the phone. “My dad just died,” I replied.
The therapeutic poignance was deafening.
It’s both fascinating and faith-building to watch the Lord direct my steps and turn even the hardest, most hurtful things into pure gold. I hope you can see that and don’t give way to sadness or worse – pity as you read. Compassion literally means “to suffer with”. It is the ability to identify with and join in the suffering of others. Compassion is the fruit of suffering from which the world tells us to flee.
Compassion is what qualifies us to participate in God’s plan.
It was about a week after my COVID-ridden interview that I started thinking about my old childhood friend Craig Hammerly. “That’s weird,” I thought. I hadn’t thought of him for years. Craig was the unauthorized friend with whom I used to play in the woods between our houses when we were 6 or 7 years old. I say “unauthorized” because Craig was that “bad kid”. My mother forbade our friendship. So I’d grab my Tonka dump truck, excavator, and matchbox cars and meet Craig secretly to play. Craig didn’t have any toys so it was up to me. I remember I’d always be trying to build something. Craig just wanted to crash the race cars into the Tonka trucks and destroy everything. It was kind of irritating but I rolled with it. Craig lived alone with his grandfather. Rumor had it that he “did things to Craig” – the kind of things that people didn’t talk about let alone do anything about. Craig got held back and we grew apart by the time I was in the third grade. Soon he became the school bully that everyone was afraid to fight. Craig couldn’t read but he sure knew how to punch. Elementary school mythology had it that “he’d knocked out a high school kid in a fight. Heck, even the teachers were afraid of him.” His identity became the kid who could beat up anyone – except maybe his grandfather. Craig moved away sometime before the 6th grade and I never heard of him after. It seemed kind of random that I’d feel prompted to look him up on the internet after 50 years. But there he was. His picture was all over the internet. It was no surprise when I learned that Craig, who called himself Damien Knight had been on drugs and in and out of jail for most of his life. He’d just been arrested again a week or so before.
Craig beat his roommate to death with his fists
Maybe you come from one of those miraculously functional families that loved Jesus and each other. Maybe you are cringing or weeping as you read this. Maybe you’re scratching your head and trying to make sense of seemingly disconnected albeit traumatic data points. Maybe you just think I’m crazy. Or maybe you recognize that “there but for the grace of God go I”. One of the many ways that God speaks to us in and through the circumstances of our own lives – past and present. When I look at Craig I see myself minus Jesus. There’s no going back for guys like Craig and me only forward. But maybe I can help boys – boys like we once were to choose a different path. What I know for sure is that I had no idea why God told us to move to Greeneville Tennesee. It was such a blind leap of faith that part of me questioned my hearing at times. Today it is clear what God is doing or at least what he’s continuing to do in my life. It’s what He’s always been doing. He’s crushing and pressing.
He’s making new wine.
I don’t know what Craig’s future holds. I do know that with God all things are possible. I know that God used prison to save my eternal life and begin the transformation that resulted in the wild adventure that is my life today. Of course, I didn’t know it at first. I know the goal is to count it all joy in the midst of trials and testing. But let’s face it. The crushing and pressing hurts and all we want to do at first is to make it stop. Most of us are doing well if we can count it all to joy to have passed through them. Still, every day I am excited to see what God weaves in and through my life and where he places me as a living stone fitly framed in His house. I hope you can do the same.
The name “Gray Hope Missionaries” has occasionally caused a few eyebrows to rise. “What does that even mean?” they ask with a familiar reticence in their voice. I’ll admit it does sound a bit self-centered. I originally coined the title with the idea of it being a conversation starter. That’s manipulation code for initiating an evangelistic or “support us” sales pitch.
We all know God’s will requires funding.
Gray is the color between black and white, light and dark. It’s how I imagine hope. It’s also a Scotch Irish name that literally means hope. According to Google, the family crest which may or may not be my family crest, is an anchor.
That we live in the gray is another way of saying we see as in a glass darkly.
We need as much hope as we can get.
If you ask a missionary what life on the mission field is like you will often get an oral or written narrative along the lines of our most recent Hope In Time Newsletter, the ministry with whom we currently serve. Yes, we really do what we say. That’s not the point. Increasingly, we find ourselves cringing at what inevitably ends up looking like horn-tooting, self-promotion. It’s a Catch 22. We can’t be accountable to supporters without pictures of us doing what we say we do. But then it’s hard to direct the reader’s attention to God while staring at our mugs amidst a story about some tin we just nailed.
I’ve come to almost despise the drudgery of self-promotion if only because it’s not biblical. Mat 6:1-4 When I think back to the marketing videos I regularly produced until two years ago I am embarrassed that I cultivated so much narcissism and self-aggrandizement. Yet narcissism and embellishment are just good business these days. They are expected and even praised in our consumer culture. That this is accompanied by a corresponding subconscious distrust of anyone asking for money seems rather ironic. That we associate meekness and humility with failure, and grandiosity with success, may offer some insight into why our culture has so little wisdom and discernment and continues to select psychopaths as leaders.
But I digress.
In my experience, being a missionary has been more about coming to terms with things that people preoccupied with the first world rat race never have time or perhaps the desire to think about.
I liken it to peelingan onion.
We began with peeling away our previous assumptions about ourselves, missions work, God, His Word and the world, as well all the ethical dilemmas that result from pride-ridden dreams of being a “world changer”.
This is counterintuitive as we are taught that success is contingent upon one’s ability to portray it.
Next came a season of preaching one thing and doing another. In my case that looked like talking about abiding while franticly striving to live up to prophetic words about my being a “world changer”.
Turns out telling people they are “world changers” is also a marketing strategy.
This recurring motif frequently ends in missionary burnout. Either we learn that,
“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
or we quit.
This may seem simplistic to those whose careers and prosperity are the fruit of their dependency on God. But try it after slaying prosperity on the altar. This is where we encounter our inner Judas.
Mary, therefore, took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” John 12:3-6
The temptation to do everything apart from the literal commands of Jesus can be strong. There’s always an excuse. I have learned that given a severe enough tragedy or perceived inequity, and there always is, darn near any worldly strategy can be justified in support of financing God’s will.
Yet Jesus assured us there will be no human solution to the world’s suffering and problems. That includes poverty, climate change, and injustice to name a few. The Christian walk is not about world-changing effort and success let alone how God uses the almighty “us” to do it. It’s about being broken as we learn we can not. Only brokenness teaches us to be utterly dependent upon Jesus.That is thekingdom definition of success.
It begins with accepting the abject silliness of our self-imagined significance. John 15:1-17
“You can do nothing” is not hyperbole. “Nothing” means “nothing”. Hence, I’m thinking a better word for “missionary” might be
“Abidinary” – one who abides in the vine.
In our case, becoming an “abidinary” has meant dwelling both literally and prophetically in the wilderness. This has been especially true since moving into the mountains when the entire world was locked down. Our driver’s licenses expired and we don’t have a car. Every time we are tempted to think it is coming to an end, another mutation and mutant worldly narrative kicks in. We are stunned and amazed at what the world has become and is becoming. It seems that everything we knew could happen – but probably wouldn’t – is happening. Maybe you can relate. Each time we learn that normal isn’t coming back the Lord brings us back into the Book of Exodus. We shed another onion layer as we look into the type and shadow of our own impatience, impertinence, and ingratitude. Sometimes we are at the Springs of Marah in Exodus 15 grumbling that the living water is not sweetened to our taste. Other times we are in Exodus 32 carving a golden calf 2.0. Our calf isn’t made of gold but steak dinners and dreams of RV living while touring the US.
Meanwhile, God keeps placing us at the proverbial entrance to the Leviticus 8:35 tent.
For the record, I am not claiming to be a Levitical Priest.
Rather there is just so much history and depth in the original Tabernacle and Priesthood. Leviticus 8 is about the consecration and ordination of the priests. Many believers discount the Old Testament, especially Leviticus. “That was the old covenant,” they say. “Only the new one applies today.” And let’s be honest. Detailed descriptions of donning one hundred pounds of priestly garb before tying a bull to the altar, slaughtering it in the heat, and spreading the blood and guts around can be boring and well…gross.
Still, everything points directly to Jesus and lends greater depth to our understanding of Him and our relationshipwith Him.
The bull was first and foremost symbolic of the priest tying himself to the altar. What took place there was a prophetic depiction of Jesus who would be both the final and perfect sacrifice as well as the high priest who offered it. It was symbolic of the depth of what is required if indeed we offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Rom 12:1-2.
Meanwhile, we sing “Come to the altar” as if it were an invitation to hug Santa Claus.
The altar is an invitation to tie ourselves up, be slain and die.
The tying, which is submission, is up to us. The slaying is a job for the High Priest. That’s Jesus. Anyone who has ever slaughtered a bull knows the sheer brutality, labor and gore involved. That the same sacrifice was immediately repeated with a ram only makes the scene seem more burdensome and intense. We may not slaughter animals as a propitiation for sin today. But shouldn’t our alter calls reflect the same sober intensity? Interestingly, Lev 8:3 lends deeper context to the scene when we consider that the entire congregation was required to be present.
This was church.
The Levitical Priests were just getting started.
“And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it will take seven days to ordain you. As has been done today, the Lord has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. At the entrance of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, performing what the Lord has charged, so that you do not die, for so I have been commanded.” Lev 8:33-35
There is mind-numbing, soul-shaking, typological, depth to this for those who understand. Suffice it to say that in addition to the wilderness, this is the place where God has repeatedly placed Cathy and me for the better part of two years. It is an uncomfortable place, albeit an often joyful place, a paradoxical place filled with futility and hope and the realization that our best efforts are analogous to a finger painting by a three-year-old presented to his father. Perhaps the desire to please God alone would qualify as an acceptable sacrifice. But then who can honestly say they do that? Hence, the bible says our best efforts are filthy rags. It seems more likely that our worldly displays before man for which people so often praise us has become our reward in full. Peeling the onion has shown us that
The counterfeit of true worship and sacrifice is the worship of one’s own reflection in the eyes of another and as we might imagine it in the eyes ofGod.
We are the tabernacle today. The tent entrance is symbolic of the place of coming to terms with ourselves as God reveals the deepest parts of ourselves in answer to prayer. Residual parts we don’t like and wish were not there. It is always parts we wish were not there that need to be cut away, discarded or burned. The altar is hard work. But the hardest part is in the submission to waiting.
The entrance to the tent is a most necessary place.
It is at the entrance to the tent of our tabernacle that we wrestle with drudgery, immobility, and loneliness. We are all strangers in a strange land. But Honduras is a place where no matter how low and slow we go we will never be seen as equal, a part of, or the same. We are gringos. We are opportunity and blessing, consumers and cash. Sometimes we are bipedal ATMs. The deafening silence so devoid of true fellowship at the tabernacle door can produce the temptation to retrieve what was slain and return to comfort in the land of the prospering dead. We are here for seven days, however long or short a time that may actually be, according to His will and “so that (we) do not die.” There may be a different season and assignment on the horizon. In the meantime, this is what it looks like to learn to abide. John 15:5
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.
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.
Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves with the same resolve, because anyone who has suffered in his body is done with sin. Consequently, he does not live out his remaining time on earth for human passions, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2 -Berean Study Bible-
What most informs your Christian walk? Is it a moment-to-moment guidance from the Lord? Do you acknowledge Him in all your ways and He directs your steps? Prov 3:5-8 How do you discern His leading, His voice from your own voice, that of the world, and finally the enemy who presents himself as an angel of light? 2 Cor 11:14 Is your spiritual guidance system primarily informed by the voice of contemporary teachers and prophets? Do you emphasize dreams, visions and seers, and books written by contemporary authors? Are you wooed by anointing such that you exalt a man?
The Bible is clear that there is a gift of prophecy. 1 Cor 12:1-11. The office of the prophet in the New Testament is more ambiguous. We see Pastors, evangelists, teachers, and even apostles operating as part of the fivefold ministry. Eph 4:11 I have yet to see a genuine contemporary prophet who operates as part of a fivefold ministry. I’ve seen patently false prophets and I have seen individuals with a prophetic gift. Others mislabel words of knowledge, and words of wisdom as prophecy. I could be totally wrong and if so then please correct me, but every self-proclaimed prophet I have personally encountered is operating on his own with little to no accountability to anyone. Anyone claiming to hold the office of a prophet and utters the words “Thus Saith The Lord!” apart from the Word of God must realize that the standards for doing so have not changed.
But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’ when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.Deut 18:18-22
Still, there is something known as prophetic preaching. Prophetic preaching is first and foremost FIRMLYrooted in God’s WORD, which is the testimony of Jesus. Rev 19:10 It is not “a new thing” or an extra-biblical thing proclaimed on YouTube or sold on Amazon. It tends to be countercultural in that it calls out that which is and is not of God within the House of God.It may expound on Biblical prophecy but it is not limited to the prophetic. The foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone;Eph 2:20 is its inspiration and source. True Prophetic preaching does not depart from God’s Word because the Bible is a blueprint and map of God’s plan from before the foundations of the worldEph 1:4-10 until the establishment of a new heavens and new earth.Rev 21 It is only through His word as taught by Holy Spirit John 16:13 that we can come to know the mystery of His will.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.Eph 1:7-12
The word is a mirror that shows us who we are in light of Him 1 Cor 13:12 and the image of His son into which He is conforming us. Rom 8:29 The word is the prophetic lens through which we should view and interpret all prophecy, history, and current events while we are still sojourners on Earth. Phil 3:20 Surely the Lord God does nothingUnless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.Amos 3:7 Still, this mainly refers to the fact that God has revealed the bulk of His plans to five major prophets and twelve minor ones. Again I could be wrong but I suspect that any genuine contemporary prophecy is rooted in the promise Gabriel gave to Daniel regarding the increase in knowledge and understanding of what was written and sealed up. Dan 12:4 and Dan 12:10. There is some horrific heretical stuff labeled as prophetic coming out on the internet today.
If you are one whose faith walk is primarily steered by dreams, visions, prophecies, and books from celebrity prophet pulpits then I would exhort you to carefully study and meditate on Jeremiah 14, 23, and 28. I am not a cessationist. I’m not discounting all prophecy dreams and visions. I’ve just seen too many proclamations of God’s will apart from His Word. Hence I would plead with you to use the above scriptures as a lens through which you view and consider what you hear.
For they are a rebellious people, lying children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”Isaiah 30:9-11
Is their message rooted in scripture exegeted in context? Is it about Jesus, and the testimony of Jesus? Is Jesus even mentioned? Or are people simply in awe of a man?
Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.Rev 19:10
Why am I coming so hard against the prophetic?
Let’s just say that if my destination is due north and I am off course by 22 degrees east, I don’t steer harder east to get back on course.
Again, I am not going to go to the opposite extreme and quench the spirit and limit God. Off course by 22 degrees to the west is no better than the same error to the east. The Bible says the gift of prophecy is real.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.1 Thess 5:19-22
The operative question is “How do we filter the good from the evil, the genuine from the fake?”
Jesus’ first admonition when the disciples inquired about His return was, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Deceive is planáō – roam (from safety, truth, or virtue):–go astray, deceive, err, seduce, wander, be out of the way. Christ is Christos – anointed. To be anointed means to have authority. That authority is first and foremost to proclaim
“Thus Saith The Lord!”
Pay close attention to your own emotional responses when listening to another human being speak about God. Are you compelled to exalt the man? Or is the man increasingly diminished such that you forget him entirely because you are so awed by God? John 3:30
If pastor Billy Bob claims to be a Prophet and proclaims “Thus saith the Lord” then he better not miss it. If he does then the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.Deut 18:18-22. On the other hand, if Bobby Sue in Billy Bob’s congregation has a prophetic gift and says “I feel like the Lord is saying…” or “I think I heard the Lord tell me…” and she is wrong then Bobby Sue is not a liar. She just missed it like we all miss it. The words “I feel like…” or “I think…? invite confirmation or correction. The difference between the two is in the assignment of an office and the assumption of authority. Pastor Billy Bob exalts himself by putting himself on equal footing with the Word that God exalts above all His name. Psalms 138:2 Bobby Sue is simply trying to make sense of what God is speaking amidst at least three other voices. It’s unlikely that anyone will put Bobby Sue on a pedestal and forgo searching the scriptures to see if what she said is true. Acts 17:11
People put Billy Bob Prophets on pedestals every day.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.1 Cor 2:2
The cross marks our proverbial true north as we sojourn the earth. The cross is the hinge upon which everything in the Christian walk hangs. Hence Paul resolved to know nothing apart from it. And Peter exhorted us to arm ourselves with the same resolve by which Jesus suffered and endured the cross.
“We understand the value of suffering in the Christian life. Learning to love requires willingness to suffer for the sake of righteousness. Discipline and testing make saints out of us, and produce in us holiness, without which we will not see God’s face and share His glory. With Paul we rejoice in our weaknesses, for when we are weak we are strong.” Value #4 of5 CORE VALUES OF IRIS GLOBAL
Interestingly, Suffering in some form is mentioned sixty-eight times in the New Testament, and Blessing just twenty-one. If we are going to arm ourselves with the same resolve as Jesus then we need to study and meditate on what He endured.
And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”Luke 22:40-42
How often do we encounter suffering and tragedy and pray like Jesus in Gethsemene? Jesus did not tell His disciples to pray for deliverance from suffering but that they would not fall into temptation. Temptation to what? I think it was the temptation to quit. When Jesus sent Cornilieus to heal Saul / Paul’s blindness it wasn’t to pour out blessings but to tell Paul all that he must suffer. Acts 9:16 If they persecuted Jesus then why would we assume the same won’t happen to us? John 15:20 If the same might happen to us then why don’t we ever talk about it as a church? Arm ourselves with the same resolve does not mean arming ourselves with prophetic feel-good fluff. Arming myself means asking how I can finish well. Arm yourself means asking the Lord to show me how I could be tempted such that I might fail to endure and overcome. Mat 24:13, Rev 21:7-9
For you have spent enough time in the past carrying out the same desires as the Gentiles: living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and detestable idolatry. Because of this, they consider it strange of you not to plunge with them into the same flood of reckless indiscretion, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 1 Peter 4:3-5 -Berean Study Bible-
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.1 Peter 4:1-2
Today we find the globe moving deeper into the Fourth Turning that is scheduled to peak sometime between 2025 and 2030. If the cycle simply repeats it will usher in another First Turn “High”. Just to give you some context, the previous High was 1945 -1965 and gave birth to “The Boomer Generation” and the proverbial “American Dream”. That the cycles of history repeat is as unavoidable as it is undeniable. The key to surviving and thriving is rooted in recognizing the season and responding correctly. One of the most common errors people make during Fourth Turns is to mistake them for a First.
For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time when it suddenly falls upon them. Ecc 9:12
The Root of Crisis
Judge and judgment are among the most contentious words these days. This is especially true in the context of Christianity where “judgment” has become a pejorative. The WOKE especially like to cite Jesus in Mat 7:1-3 “judge not lest ye be judged” usually in response to any mention of sin. Today love is increasingly defined as tolerance of sin. Conviction is hate. The Greek word for judge in Mat 7 is krínō, meaning to “condemn or pronounce sentence upon”. The absurdity of one person judging another for judging them aside, we agree that no man should krínō another.
There is more than one word for judgment in the Bible.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.”1 Cor 2:14-15 “judge” is Anakrínō – to discern.
I Anakrínō right from wrong – truth from lies etc. In practice Anakrínō looks like intuition or “gut instinct”. Yet it is a knowing in one’s spirit that can be later verified with God’s word.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment… Philippians 1:9
Judgment here is Aísthēsis – perception by the intellect as well as the senses, discernment, Cognition, moral discernment in ethical matters.
Among other things, Aísthēsis is the bedrock of a 1 Peter 3:15 Apologia, a defense for the hope that is in us.
Still, there is one other word for judgement.
That word is Krísis, the word from which the English word “crisis” is derived.
Krísis is God’s judgment.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17
Discussions of God’s judgment may trigger charismatic believers. We may encounter a similar emotional response is when discussing spiritual gifts with reformed cessationists. Theological paradigms get rattled and arguments are formed as we debate whether or not God really is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yet almost no one would dispute that God can not be mocked. We reap what we sow. There is a point on the path of sin where God turns his head and gives those who remain in it over to do that which ought not to be done.Rom 1:18-32 This turning over is for the destruction of their flesh in the hope that their soul might be saved. At the end of the day, the wages of sin is death. God does not cause us to sin. He allows us to sin. It is not God’s desire that crisis falls upon us. He desires that we wake up and rise from the dead. Yet all are without excuse. Rom 1: 18-32. Therefore God does not change the consequences of our chosen rebellion. Does the devil play a role? Certainly! In fact he thinks he is winning. Little does he know that he is God’s stool pigeon. The pressure (Thlipsis- tribulation) that Satan is allowed to impose on us is used by God to conform us to the image of His son Rom 8:29 and remove the spots and wrinkles from His bride. Eph 5:27 Imagine what might happen if we took responsibility for our collective sin and resulting Krísis like Daniel did in Dan 9 instead of assigning power to the devil and deferring blame upon Him.
Consider how that might shape our prayers.
While the scandal at IHOP at least partially inspires this post, the allegations against Mike remain as yet unconfirmed. Please don’t get lost in speculation regarding his innocence or guilt. Rather I hope that you will consider the Krísisthat has been broughtto light within the body of Christ.
Having attended Ravi Zacharias’ School of Apologetics, I was devastated when his lifelong sexual sin was exposed immediately following his death in 2021. No man has impacted my theology and faith more than he. If I have ever placed a man on a pedestal Ravi was it. I cried when his ministry, life’s work, and legacy collapsed. Yet Ravi’s sin was not the root cause of his ministry’s implosion. It was the leadership team who knew about Ravi’s sin and covered it up to protect the ministry that detonated its demise. Despite the title, the video below is not about Mike Bickle per se. It is Lew Engle’s public confession of his porn addiction at a One Thing Conference in 2018. I think we were in Ecuador on the Amazon at the time and had no idea this had happened. The current scandal at IHOP is the only reason I – and maybe you – have become aware of it now.
Clearly, there is a crisis in the body of Christ.
How did we get here? As Ray Comfort says, “God comes to us with a subpoena in one hand and a pardon in the other.” Today we love to tell people about the loving pardon. The subpoena…not so much. We emphasize grace and joy and downplay God’s justice. We thank Him for His goodness and redact His severity and Holiness. In a word, there is no fear of God. Instead, we fear man and man’s rejection. We redact the truth in the hope that we will be accepted.
Praise God for Lew’s courage and transparency even if it took him fifty years to get there. I’m not being snarky. It’s justa fact. He has ministered to at least two generations of new believers all the while being double-minded and therefore unstable in all his ways. Sexual sin’s portal is a man’s eyes. It is the number one sin that threatens to beset all men. No man is immune. If you think you are then take heed lest you fall. One reason I don’t have a porn problem today is because I know that I could. The other reason is that I understand how real the battle is and how it is fought.
Lew mentioned years of futile prayer and fasting against his compulsion. That makes perfect sense. The Bible tells us toflee youthful lusts. Prayer and fasting is for unbelief. Those who fail to heed the warning to flee soon find themselves caught in the snare of addiction. Now they must expose itEph 5:11 before they can hope to flee it. Exposure is what many people fear most because the required vulnerability produces suffering. This suffering may be the result of shame, the loss of the esteem of men, position, and or material consequences like the loss of a career or even one’s freedom. Fear of exposure keeps us stuck in our sin. As the 12 Step adage goes,
What I found most perplexing about the video is that Mike Bickle seemed embarrassed by Lew’s transparency. The words he chose were anything but supportive of accountability. Mike seemed quite familiar with Lew’s struggle as he attempted to minimize and rationalize the sin. Thankfully Lew Engle wasn’t having any of it. The fear of God was on him and he quaked in his boots as he publicly repented.
But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 1 Cor 11:31
The reason for God’s judgment on the house of God and global society is that we have avoided addressing the subject of sin for so long that today we increasingly call good evil and evil good.
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this, they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. 1 Pet 4:1-6
Paul calls it persevering. Once again, tribulation is Thlipsis (pressure) and specifically refers to a form of Roman execution where a large bolder was placed on the victim’s chest and slowly crushed the life out of him. In this context, pressure could be iniquity which includes the pressure to sin. We refer to this pressure as temptation. Yet iniquity left unaddressed becomes generational. The longer we remain isolated in secret sin the greater the iniquity and the more fragmented we become. Fragmentation is the opposite of integrity. Both fragmentation and integrity are opposing expressions of character. Our character is what God seeks to transform and conform to the image of His son. Persevering under pressure is God’s formula for transformation that produces hope.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Rom 5:3-5
One thing seems certain. Hard times and big challenges lie ahead. More and more we will see true character exposed both in and out of the church. I understand the importance of the honor that so characterizes my own faith stream. It’s true context applies to missions and becoming all things to all men in order to save a few. We honored Muslims in Africa to earn credibility and the right to be heard by them. Honor was never intended to be a perversion of do not touch God’s anointed – a proverbial bunker in which leaders avoid accountability. God is not having it. My prayer is for wisdom and courage for all of us to judge ourselves and that we allow the transformation of our character wherever needed so that we can faithfully fulfill what God has called us to in these last days.
Every outcome will ultimately be determined by our character.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 1 Pet 3:18-20
I don’t know about you but I am prone to mistake emphasis for redundancy especially when it comes to scripture. I find I need to discipline my impertinence toward God’s word lest I become distracted from the depth of simplicity in pursuit of glorified entertainment.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit… Is the first part of the gospel message which is the gospel of salvation.
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, (vinegar and mixed with gall) put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.John 19:28-30
…They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.Psalm 69:19-21
Whether they offered this to Jesus to dull the pain of His suffering on the cross or to prolong His death remains a topic of debate. That hyssop dipped into a bitter wine that now represents suffering and His redemptive blood brushed His lips as hyssop dipped in blood struck the lintel and the two doorposts before the first Passover Exodus 12:22 seems more significant in that it points to the scripture that Jesus fulfilled.
“It is finished!” – Tetelestai was a contemporary commercial term that meant
“Paid in Full”.
Peter goes on to say the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison…
This scripture is the source of the belief that Jesus descended into Hell well He gave up His spirit and was in the tomb for three days. The argument is reasonable enough and it may be the case. The only problem with this is that Peter does not clearly say either way. What he tells us is that there are spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. He is making a direct reference to the days of Noah.
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.Gen 6:1-8
The book of Jude adds further clarification regarding the identities and the sin of these imprisoned spirits such that we know they are the Sons of God, fallen angels, who came into the daughters of men to produce Nephilim the giant mighty men of renown.
And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.Jude 1:6-7
There are myriad believers today chasing after signs and wonders, others are after Nephilim and Bigfoot whom they are convinced are secretly running the world today. As for me, I’m not saying they are or aren’t. I don’t really care. The Bible already tells me that satan is the God of this age. 2 Cor 4:4. I remain convinced that Jesus was rebuking the idolatrous craving for entertainment and stimulation because it leads down paths of deception that at best only invalidates our witness of the true light of the world.
When I read Peter’s accounting of the fallen angels I hear Jesus in Mathew 24:37. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. The question at hand is not who are the spirits in prison? Or where is the prison located? It’s not whether Jesus preached to save them or if He went to proclaim His victory over them. The question for us is;
what caused them to be imprisoned?
I see two things. The first is that the Sons of God hybridized God’s creation by causing the daughters of men to give birth to Nephilim. This sin is currently represented in the LGBTQ+ and Transhumanism movements. The second is sexual sin. Jude specified the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah that includes but is not limited to LGBTQ+ but includes any sex outside the sanctity of marriage as established by God. If this does not seem relevant to you personally then consider this. We are immersed in a society that is repeatedly told by believers how much God loves them and desires to bless them. It is increasingly rare that this message is accompanied by the warning that unless they repent and surrender their lives to Jesus they will eventually find themselves imprisoned with the spirits who are already there.
How ironic that the segment of people who embraced one radical ideology and labeled anyone who disagreed with them as an opposing ideology in 2020 are now aligning with the very ideology they previously opposed. These ignore one massacre to oppose another. They remain blind to the fact that the very group they support now will be obliged to kill them if they come to power.
Meanwhile, the people labeled as “not human” and “animals” who were saved from genocide 78 years ago are now celebrated for their necessary eradication of “evil animals” who are “not human” today. These justify one massacre in opposition to another. Elsewhere in the world, those who fought to free the first group being opposed by the very group they liberated.
Meanwhile, back in the land of prosperity, and entitlement, those who oppose the alleged systematic oppression of one minority people group, demand the right to murder their children in the name of the human rights and health of another allegedly oppressed minority group. This is further justified by the claim that people in the womb are not human.
Perhaps you have noticed the absurdity is clarified by the absence of labels and names.
How did we get here?
Many people do not have a point of reference beyond themselves. Hence truth is defined as whatever they experience or perceive. Furthermore, we have sacrificed the ability and right to think critically on the altar of consensus rooted in, and driven by emotion. Our hackers easily direct our individual and collective discontent toward whatever fragment of imperfect humanity they deem most likely to inflame our emotions. Once in this state, we confuse “awfulizing” a problem and choosing a side, with contributing to its solution never realizing that “we”, not “they” are our real problem. All are dead men walking – appointed to the very wrath we would assign to others. Our condition is further confirmed and reinforced by our self-righteous hatred for whichever side our hackers have assigned us to oppose.
We are double-minded.
The root of our confusion and hypocrisy is twofold.
On one hand, we have the attempted negation of absolute truth and with it the denial of a source. Truth becomes a personal affair. Within this paradigm, consensus is love and disagreement hate. All hate must be killed so that love can thrive.
On the other hand, we have consensus-based affirmation that absolute truth does exist. Yet there is little to no understanding of what that TRUTH is. In its place, we have emotionally contrived, stump speeches and celebrity pulpits labeled as absolute truth as the preferred influencers imagine it.
It would seem that one man surmised correctly in 1871. People in both groups will kill one another and themselves until only a controllable few are left. Those that remain will be so demoralized that they will gladly accept the chief hacker as king.
Still, there remains one way to be unhackable. One truth, that leads to our origin, true freedom, true life, and the reconciliation of the family to which we all belong. It is a narrow way.
Only a remnant will find it.
As in the story Pinnochio, the wider, easier way is filled with comfort and pleasure. This broad beautiful road will remain more attractive, more interesting for a season as those who traverse it are conformed to the image of proverbial donkeys. Thinking themselves wise they inevitably become fools and all that they have permitted themselves to hate.
all Christians are idolaters and should be killed.
First, we must sanctify our hearts in preparation to speak with gentleness and respect. 1 Pet 3:15-16. The Jews are still God’s chosen people into whom we are grafted. We must not become arrogant toward the branches. Rom 11:18As regards the gospel, they (the Jews) are enemies for our sake.Rom 11:28
Here is one apology.
Somewhere around 2000BC Abraham had his son Issac carry wood for a burnt offering on his shoulders to the top of Mount Moriah. Issac had no idea that he was to be the sacrifice. Abraham was fully prepared to end the life of the very son whom God had promised. Then God stopped him.
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn“, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you,Genesis 22:11-17
Two thousand years later God fulfilled His sworn oath in His own son Jesus who was fully aware that He was to be the final sacrifice, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world as he carried the wooden Cross on His shoulders to the top of the same mountain to be crucified.
As believers, we know multiple scriptures tell us that our omniscient God had His plan in place before the foundations of the world. The key to our defense of this all-encompassing hope before our unbelieving Abrahamic siblings is to make this argument using the Old Testament alone. The book of Daniel is just one example of God foretelling His plan so that His chosen people, the Jews could know and recognize their Messiah when He arrived. But they rebelled. Therefore,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”Rom 11:8Eze 12:2
As all of Romans 11 explains, even their hardness of heart was part of God’s plan.
Ironically it was the Magi from Persia where Daniel had been exiled that recognized the birth of the Jewish Messiah Mat 2 while His own people rejected Him. Psalm 118:22 Isa 53:3John 1:11 Nevertheless, God can not lie. He swore an oath by His own name. Gen 22
“The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”Isaiah 59:20Rom 11:27
Sworn in Gen 22:11-17 is shaba` Literally“to seven oneself”, i.e. to swear an oath by repeating a declaration seven times. The masculine form Sheba is the numeral 7. Hopefully, you will see the poignance in this as you read on.
Daniel 9 gives us the exact year when Jesus’s ministry began. It was there for the Jewish people the whole time. I understand that this might be confusing. I will do my best to answer questions when we meet.
The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.Dan 9:2
Daniel is referring to the following verses.
This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.Jer 25:11
For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.Jer 29:10
In addition to the sexual sins associated with Baal and Asherah worship (Asherah is the first recorded Transgender) and the infanticide associated with Molech worship, Israel was sentenced to exile for 1 year for every Shmitah (Sabbath year 7th year that they failed to observe and allow the land to rest.) 7 x 70 = 490 years is the total time Israel was in rebellion against God. That they only served a 70-year sentence is more evidence of God’s mercy.
For the record, we know that a week of years is seven years because “You shall count seven weeks [Sabbaths] of years, seven times seven years so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years.Lev 25:8
“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. Dan 9:24
This verse is a summarization of the entire prophecy of Israel’s future from the end of their exile up to the start of the Millenial reign of Jesus on earth following His return on the Mount of Olives. Zechariah 14:14Mat 24:29-31
“Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command (decree)To restore and build JerusalemUntil Messiah the Prince,There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;The street shall be built again, and the wall,Even in troublesome times.Dan 9:25
Verse twenty-five is speaking of the rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem by Nehemiah. The decree to do so marks the beginning of seven and sixty-two, or 69 “weeks of years”. 69 x 7 = 483 years. Keep in mind, that “Messiah the Prince” is not the birth of Jesus. Rather it refers to the date of Jesus’ anointing when He was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and He officially began His ministry on earth.
The exact date of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem is rather ambiguous at first. Therefore it helps to do the math based on what we already know. Given that we are still BC (before Christ) the date of Jesus’ baptism (anointing) and the start of His ministry should work out to
483 – “X” years. X=unknown.
Both Luke and Matthew mention Jesus’ birth as occurring during Herod’s reign and before his death in 4BC Luke 1, Mat 2 The consensus among most Scholars is that Jesus was born around 4BC. In addition, we are told that Jesus was about thirty years old when He began His ministry.Luke 3:23
The decree to rebuild Jerusalem is mentioned in four places.
– Cyrus 538 BC Ezra 1:1-11 Messiah would have to be anointed in 55BC – Darius 520 BC Ezra 5-6 Messiah would have to be anointed in 37BC – Artaxerxes 457 BC Ezra 7Messiah would have to be annointed in 26AD – Artaxerxes 444 BC Nehemiah 2:4-11Messiah would have to be anointed in 40AD
As we will see Artaxerxes’ decree in 457BC Ezra 7 is the only one that fits. The reasons are as follows.
1. Ezra 7 is the only place where a full decree to is written out.
2. Four hundred eighty three years from Artexerxes’ decree in 457BC is 26AD because
483 years – 457 BC = 26AD
If Jesus was born in 4BC He’d have been 30 years old in 26AD because
4BC + 26AD = 30 years
“And after (the specific date is not given) the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; (this is when Jesus was crucified). And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary… Dan 9:26
The Romans destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem under Titus in 70AD. The Jewish people were dispersed to the nations and Israel ceased to exist as a nation until it was restored in 1948 and Jews began returning to their ancestral home. “The people of the prince who is to come” are the people who follow the spirit of antichrist.
More poignant details
Consider that it was the angel Gabriel who came to Daniel amidst his intercession for his people and gave him the prophecy of the coming Messiah. It’s no coincidence that Gabriel announced the birth of John and Jesus 2000 years later. The name “Zacharias” means “remembered of Jehovah”. His wife “Elizabeth” means “oath of God”. Together they mean,
“God remembered His oath.”
“Jesus has come. Jesus is coming.”
We must be ready to make Old Testament connections to New Testament scripture.
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,Psalm 95:8Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellionHeb 3:15
That said, you may be wondering about the remainder of Daniel 9
The 70th week that brings in everlasting righteousness,seals up vision and prophecy,and anoints the Most Holy.
Daniel 9:27 refers to the end of days e.g. Daniel 12, Matthew 24, Luke 21, Revelation 12 and 13, etc. That said, there is a world of controversy over this verse. Hence it is a separate study. For now, let’s be content to bask in the awe of comprehending one piece of God’s complexity and precision in what He resolved to accomplish before the foundations of the world has been fulfilled. These are foundational to the reason for the hope that is in us.
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
This is known as the apologetics scripture. Defense is apología – a verbal defense, a speech in defense of, a reasoned statement or argument. Ironically it is also the word from which the English word apology is derived. a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure. While the word of God most certainly is an offense to many, we are not apologizing for it. We are arguing for it’s validity.
Paul and Peter were the first Christian apologists. Justin Martyr followed. Christians were accused of being atheists and cannibals. Hence Martyr’s was a formal legal defense of Christianity before the Roman Emperor.
There are at least eight primary schools of apologetics. While each assumes a different approach they support one another and frequently overlap. They are as follows.
Experiential Apologetics is most easily recognized in personal testimonies about salvation and other encounters with the presence of God. This approach is most common and most accepted within charismatic circles. As valid as testimonies may be we must consider that Mormons, Muslims, and especially New Agers all have testimonies as well. Testimony alone is often ineffective unless we also expose the fallacies of any worldview devoid of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Historical and Evidentialist Apologists like J Warner Wallace a former cold case homicide detective use the same investigative principles employed by detectives to defend the historical accuracy of the Bible.
Presuppositional Apologetics begins with the fact that everyone has a worldview and every worldview is rooted in at least one empirically unprovable assumption or presupposition. “God exists” and “God does not exist” are equally unprovable. Hence everyone is a person of faith. The question that follows is, “Which statement of faith has the most supporting evidence?”
Biblical Apologetics assumes the inerrancy of scripture and argues for or against theological truth claims such as Continuationism – “The gifts are for today” based on scripture alone. Biblical Apologetics and Presuppositional Apologetics are close bedfellows.
Philosophical Apologetics, argues for the existence of God but not the deity of Jesus or the inerrancy of scripture. The Cosomolgical Argument argues points like, the Kalam cosmological argument. 1. Everything that exists has a beginning. 2. The universe exists. 3. Therefore the Universe has a beginning. What often follows is the
Teleological Argument which includes arguments like one based on Complexity. One such argument is called the “Wristwatch Argument”. If an alien landed in a remote forest and found a wristwatch he would based on its complexity alone, assume there was a designer and a maker. A single human cell is far more complex than a wristwatch. Therefore it follows that the cell had to have a designer and maker.
Prophetic Apologetics argues for the accuracy of scripture on the basis of fulfilled prophecy and may include evidential arguments such as the mathematical impossibility of their being random chance events.
Moral Apologetics Absolute moral law exists. That’s how we know it is wrong to torture and kill babies. That absolute moral law exists implies a creator. If there is no creator then absolute moral law does not exist. You are free to “do as thou wilt”. Moral apologetics converges with presuppositional and Biblical apologetics and illustrates how inherently sinful we are, how incapable we are of being good, and our subsequent need for a savior. Ray Comfort frequently applies Moral Apologetics in his evangelism.
Still, Peter prefaces this famous apologetics verse with “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy… The KJV says But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…
Honor or Sanctify is hagiázō – to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow, to separate from profane things, to consecrate, to purify…
One thing you will learn if you study apologetics is that a logically valid argument can be made about almost anything provided it remains faithful to the original supporting presupposition. That Jews should be killed is a valid statement by Hamas in the context of Jews committing genocide against their people. The same argument is valid in the case of Jews as the recurring victims of genocide for hundreds of years. If there is no God there are no absolutes. There is nothing outside of group consensus to stop anyone from doing anything be it exterminating a group of people or hybridizing mankind. A man can be a woman, a woman can be a man and a child can be a cat or a dog. Hence logically valid is not always the same as
It is for this reason that Peter instructs us to consecrate our hearts onto to God. We need to separate our hearts from profane things such as war and the mutilation of His images and consecrate them to God.
Herein lies the paradox.
Peter instructs us to lead with our hearts. But we can not do so unless our mind informs our hearts. One problem I see in the church today is that we have
too many heartless minds and just as many mindless hearts.
Heart and Mind are not exclusive nor are they adversaries. They are interdependent and complementary.
Here is an exercise for our next Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible Study.
I posted this video in the previous post. A Jewish man tells a Christian evangelist that Christians should be killed. The Christian man does a great job of sanctifying his heart and a horrific job, in my opinion, of making a defensefor the hope that is in him.
One thing is certain
We owe this Jewish man and everyone like him whose jealousy we are called to provoke an apology.
Make a defense as if you were the evangelist he confronted.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.1 Peter 3:1-2
In this context be subject is hypotássō – A Greek military term meaning “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.
Peter continues his emphasis and exhortation on submission from chapter two where we are told to submit to authority and “honor” the king even if the King is Nero. If that wasn’t unfair enough slaves were given a similar instruction to submit to their masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. That might seem confusing in a world that teaches us to fight for our rights and subdue evil. However, the purpose of submission is not to champion evil but to defeat it. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Vs. 15For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. Vs. 18
As we previously learned in the book of Ephesians, the first and most profound meaning of marriage between a man and a woman is God’s mysterious representation of Jesus’ relationship with His bride, the church. Eph 5:32 It follows that a healthy marriage is rooted in the same principles required for a relationship with Jesus. The first and most foundational practice is found in Mat 16:24-25.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his lifewill lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Deny is aparnéomai – to utterly, disown, abstain, to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone, to forget one‘s self, and lose sight of one‘s self and one‘s own interests.
“Deny self” is a no-brainer if The Song of Songs is your template and script for marriage. In my case, I was and still am mesmerized by The Most Wonderful – Most Incredible Woman on the planet apart from whom I have zero desire to live.
“Deny self” sounds scary if we remain self-centered. This is especially true within the context of everything contemporary culture teaches. The world tells us to “find yourself!”, “follow your dreams!”, “fight for your rights!” Jesus says,
“Lose them all!”
It is in losing that we gain
When a man and woman are joined together in Holy Matrimony it is representative of Christ’s marriage to His bride the church. The wife submits to her husband and the husband gives himself up for his bride. The husband stands in direct submission to God. The wife submits to and through her husband. Eph 5:22-33 This is not a position of inferiority for the wife. Rather it is one of tremendous honor and a model for the divine alignment established by God. Gen 2:18-251 Cor 11:1-3
How wonderful and valuable is the bride for whom the groom would so gladly give his life?
So far we have been speaking of healthy marriages. But 1 Peter 3 begins with submission in an unhealthy one.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word…
While people often generalize, minimize, rationalize, and justify their behavior, abuse in some form results when one party refuses to submit according to the word of God. Mind you, abuse is a continuum. It ranges from neglect to homicide. Once again Peter exhorts us to apply submission as a spiritual weapon.
that they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
When one spouse fails to submit to God, it produces resentment and unforgiveness in the other. Wherever there is unforgiveness a Positive Feedback Loop is formed. Things get progressively worse until one or both parties go their own way or they kill each other. The conflict we see played out in marriages is the same conflict we see in God’s family.
I’m right! We are right!
Anyone who disagrees is wrong and by extension, evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Mat 6:14-15
You are not forgiven unless you forgive!
Peter’s illustration of submission as a spiritual weapon that began in 1 Peter 2:13-25 continues in Chapter 3. The only difference is that most of us have never been slaves or faced persecution like believers did under Nero. But marriage is relevant to almost everyone. Peter’s exhortation for women to submit is the antithesis of everything Westerners have been taught for at least fifty years. The idea of submission especially by those labeled as oppressed by society at large is a stumbling block for unbelievers.
ButJesus is calling us higherby asking us to go lowerstill.
Recently Cathy and I were discussing the exhortation to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. “Why Jerusalem?” We asked.
“Why not all of Israel?”
Jerusalem is from Jeru –possession and Salem – peace. Hence Jerulselum means possession of peace. Salem is thought to be Jerusalem in Psalm 76:2. Melchizedek was the King of Salem. Heb 7 Long story short, Jerusalem was on the map and governed by Melchizedek more than two thousand years before Jesus was born. Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah known as the Temple Mount and the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque today. Control of this sacred site has changed hands between Jews, Romans, Muslims, and Christians since 831 BC when King Solomon built his Temple. As we discussed in Why Israel? God’s ultimate desire is that none would perish. 1 Pet 3:9. What that means in practice includes the reconciliation of Abraham’s family through the descendants of Issac and Ishmael. Isaiah 19.
At this moment the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael continue to fight. Jerusalem and especially Mount Moriah represent the question of who is the child of the promise versus the child of the flesh. Paul puts this argument to rest in Romans 3. Of course, Christians are the only ones who validate the words of Paul.
The question is not if we should fight back but how we should fight?
Hence we are called to submit to suffering with Jesus. Rom 8:17. Suffering requires endurance. 2 Tim 2:12 But that suffering must be for doing good. 1 Peter 2:20 We are called to reign with Jesus by suffering for righteousness sake. 1 Pet 3:18-22
When I look at so much of the church today I see an extension of our society at large. They want blessings for the sake of their own comfort. 2 Tim 3:1-7 This is further evidenced by the fear and resentment that are sparked by statements like this. At the end of the day, I see an ingenious strategy of the devil at work. It is the same root of the conflict theory of Karl Marx where the oppressed are exhorted to fight their oppressors. Those who identify as oppressed must fight. Given that marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of society, it makes sense that the enemy would attack it first. Husbands invariably lose any time wives fight them. I know what some are thinking. “What if he beats her up?” The husband only loses more if he refuses to give himself up and wins a fight with his wife. Hence Peter and Paul address submission as our method for victory. So many things would fall into place if we would grasp the eternal significance of our marriages and our roles as husbands and wives. Eph 5:22-33, Eph 3:10
How do we begin?
The first step is to be brutally honest with ourselves. Examine the myriad ways that we argue and fight, rationalize, and justify rebellion in our hearts. Then remove all permission that we have given ourselves to do so. That’s a hard call for those of us who have been raised in a nation birthed out of rebellion framed as righteousness.
The only way to understand the ongoing conflict in Israel is through a Biblical understanding of Israel’s history.
OTHERWISE, IT IS JUST ANOTHER POWER STRUGGLE AND ATROCITY THAT HAS NO LIMITS.
Here is a very brief albeit condensed outline.
God gave Abraham the land that would become Israel. Genesis 12. Abraham had two sons Issac and Ismael. Genesis 16:1–16, Gen 17:18–26, Gen 21:1–21 Issac is the child of the promise because Sara gave birth as God promised despite the natural impossibility of giving birth at such an old age. Issac was the father of Jacob who became Israel. Genesis 32:22-32 Ishmael is the child of the flesh due to the impatience of Abraham’s wife Sara who convinced Abraham to step out of faith and sleep with her servant Hagar. Thirteen years later Ishmael and his mother Hagar are banished to the desert. Ishmael becomes the father of the Arab nations. Islam believes Ishmael is the child of the promise and lists him as a prophet and one who, according to Muslims helped Abraham build the Kabba in Mecca.
The biblical history of Israel is the story of an estranged family.
They are estranged from their father and from each other.
The geographical nation of Israel begins In approximately 1250 BC at the end of the 40-year Jewish Exodus from Egypt when Joshua took the nation of Israel across the Jordan River into the promised land. Joshua 1-24 At that time it was occupied by Canaanites, the descendants of Cain who murdered Able. Genesis 4. Wars and turmoil continued as the Israelites gained more control over the land. Ezekiel 48 explains that the total area God gave Abraham includes Lebanon, part of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. The nation of Israel has yet to occupy all of it.
The Israelite’s history has been an ongoing and repeated cycle of receiving a blessing from God, followed by disobedience and entitlement, God’s discipline, Israel’s repentance, restoration and blessing again. The ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to the Jewish people is not based upon their being better than the rest of the world. Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:1-20 It is based on the choice and unbreakable covenant God made that will culminate with their eventual acceptance of Jesus as their King. Romans 11
Jesus was born, and rejected by a majority of His people the Jews. He was crucified, resurrected therbye conquering sin and death. The Gospel of Salvation was fulfilled. This is the foundation of God’s redemptive plan. (See all four Gospels). Jesus ascends to the Father, the Holy Spirit is given and the Christian church is born. Acts 1-2.
In 70 AD the 2nd Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Israel ceased to be a nation and most of the Jewish population was dispersed to the nations of the world as Jesus prophesied in Mathew 24:2.
In 130 AD a Jewish Zealot named Simon Barcoba led a rebellion against the Roman Empire. They were crushed by the Romans.
In the year 135 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Judea (Southern Israel) “Palestinia” in an attempt to stamp out any remaining trace of the Jewish people. Israel did not exist as a nation again until “The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel” by the UN on May 14, 1948. This was prophetically alluded to by Jesus in Mathew 24:32-33. The people displaced in 1948 are known as Palestinians today.
At some future point, Jesus will return and descend upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to set up His millennial Kingdom. Zechariah 14, Revelation 20.
Certain prophetic benchmarks must be met before that happens.
Damascus, the oldest and most consistently populated city in the world will be destroyed. Isaiah 17:1. People from the geographic areas currently known as Russia, Kajikistan Iraq, Syria, Turkey Iran, Morroco, Algeria, Libya, and Sudan will attack Israel. Ezekiel 38-39. The man of Perdition a.k.a. the anti-Christ will emerge. The Jewish daily sacrifice will be restored on the temple mount in Jerusalem. Then it will be abruptly taken away. The abomination that causes desolation (whatever that is) will take place. Mat 24:15. The three-and-a-half-year tribulation will then commence. Daniel 12, Revelation 13, Mathew 24:21 Then Jesus will return, Daniel 7:13-14, Acts 1, Mathew 24:29-31. This will be the fulfillment of the three remaining Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. As bad as things are, and will be, it is important to remember that Jesus framed what is coming in the context of “birth pains” Mathew 24. Consider this; if a woman went into labor and didn’t know she was pregnant she would think she was dying. The hardest time on earth is likened to a woman in labor. Labor is hard and painful. The pain ends as abruptly as it started as soon as the baby is born. A woman endures labor for the coming joy that is her child. Hence Jesus exhorts us to endure Mathew 24:13 and when these things happen we are to, look up as our redemption draws near.Luke 21:28 This is the second part of God’s redemptive plan.
It will be the fulfillment of the Gospel of The Kingdom.
“But the Bible is just a fairy tale”, you say.
Fine. You can’t prove that. In all fairness neither can believers prove you are wrong. Both arguments, both sides, are rooted in a presupposition otherwise known as a statement of faith. Arguing presupposition against presupposition, worldview versus worldview is futile.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Mathew 7:13
On the other hand, if I am wrong and the Bible is a fairytale,
then like you I will live out the remainder of my days as a dirtbag in meaningless futility until my dirtbag returns to dust. Apart from the subjective opinions of man, there is no right or wrong. Self-preservation is the supreme spiritual law. I live for me. You live for you. Your life is only valid to the extent that it helps or at least does not interfere with mine. As in the case of the existentialist philosopher Albert Camus, everyone will eventually be faced with the question,
“Why not suicide?”
Apart from Jesus, there is no good answer especially when life seems unbearable.
On the other hand, if I am right and every word in the Bible is God-breathed, 2 Timothy 3 then those who believe will spend eternity with Jesus. Those who reject God’s redemptive plan will die in their sin and spend eternity in hell. This is offensive to secular humanists. However, as Blaise Pascal realized, the risk versus reward alone behooves us all to examine the resentment, narcissism, pride, and rebellion that allows us to be blinded. 2 Corinthians 4:1-4
“But what kind of God allows so much suffering?” you ask.
Why doesn’t He just end it all now?
God is not a covenant breaker like humankind. He meant what He said and He can not lie.
“Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”2 Peter 3:9
In the end, God will accomplish all that He started. Isaiah 55:11. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord.Philippians 2:10-11 Israel and the Gentile Church will be saved. Romans 11. So will the radical descendant tribes of Ishmael. Isaiah 19:16-25. Only those who refuse to believe and be baptized
Consider that the persistent anxiety, rage and depression with which so many struggle might not be their flesh crying out for the right feel-good medication. Rather their spirit man, the part of them that will live for eternity somewhere is crying out for salvation. Deny it all you want. Deep down everyone knows that they are among the walking dead, trapped in their sin. All of us are by nature children appointed to the wrath that we deserve known as hell. Ephesians 2:1-3
God in His grace made a way for all to be saved. There is nothing we can do to earn or be worthy of it. It is a gift that we accept or reject Ephesians 2:4-10 God wants to save us because of who He is.
Not because of who we are or anything we do. Titus 3:5
What a relief!
All that is required is that we believe and be baptized. Just know that believing is more than merely agreeing. Believing means learning about Jesus and His ways – trusting and obeying Him to the best of our ability. Baptism is an outward expression of an internal commitment and change. It is the death of the old man and the birth of the new. We are submerged as a representation of death. We are raised as new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:16-20,Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:22-24, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Romans 6:3-4, Romans 8:1.
Jesus is knocking at your door. It’s up to you to let Him in. Revelation 3:20
God appointed and or foreknew everything you see playing out in Israel and the world today. Evil is not the fault of God. It is the inevitable expression of man’s total depravity amidst God’s plan to save us despite us.
Who acts for the one who waits for Him? You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness. Who remembers You in Your ways? You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—In these ways we continue, And we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And no one calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand. Isaiah 64:5-8
At the end of the day violence and suffering continue because people won’t surrender and repent until they reach the end of themselves.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Spiritual warfare begins with knowing the wiles of the devil in order to stand. Eph 6:11 In this context Stand is hístēmito be of a steadfast mind. Ephesians 6 goes on to describe the full armor of God begining with the belt of Truth.
Every warrior knows the very first truth that must be acquired is a clear understanding of one’s own weaknesses. Emotion is always first. Any human being lacking a firm understanding of their own emotions, and the subsequent ability to self-regulate them is what Yuval Noah Harari calls a Hackable Animal. If you have never heard of Harari, he is a Jewish atheist homosexual historian and spokesperson for The World Economic Forum WEF. The WEF wants to put everyone in modern-day ghettos called fifteen-minute smart cities where “you’ll own nothing and be happy”. Among other things, Harari looks forward to the day when AI will rewrite the bible so that we will have a religion that is “more correct.”
But I digress…
Those who primarily rely on emotion to navigate the circumstances of their lives are easily manipulated by how they feel. Any stimulus that produces fear, lust anger, grief, or greed makes them supremely hackable. If you pay close attention you will quickly recognize that nearly all media, especially visual media is designed to hack you. The only way to ensure you aren’t hacked is to turn off what my dad called the idiot box.
This is especially true if you are Christian and a consumer of MainStream (I call it sewer stream) Media. If you think there is a lick of truth on FOX, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, or CBS, I have bad news for you.
You’ve been hacked!
In the West, we are often more concerned about offending the sensibilities of others than we are with establishing the truth. This is not the case outside the first world where horrors are a daily experience. Being a spiritual warrior requires we meet the reality of tragedy head-on without being consumed by emotion but also without losing compassion for our fellow image-bearers. Jesus repeatedly modeled this Eg. Mat 12:22-37. Jesus was not moved by the fickleness of human emotion because He knew all men and He knew what was in man.John 2:23-25 In our case walking this way requires an understanding that both sides of a conflict will do anything they can to spark emotion and glean support from the oh-so-hackable public.
All we know for sure is that one of them is fake.
The point here is that everything we know or think we know about this conflict is rooted in confirmation bias that is itself rooted in our own empirically unprovable presuppositions. “God exists.” “God does not exist.” “God’s name is YHVH.” “God’s name is Allah” are examples of presuppositions. Our confirmation bias is supported by what we read, hear, or see in the media. Unless you were there, you have no way of knowing the truth about the images above.
Yet how many will choose a side to hate based on media images?
What took place in Israel and is currently taking place in Gaza is horrific. The pressure to take sides is strong. This is exactly what the devil wants. Israel is so enraged by the unspeakable atrocities committed by Hamas that they are at risk of becoming Hamas themselves.
Many people know that Hamas in Arabic means zeal, strength, or bravery. We call them terrorists because, well…what they do is they do is terrifying. Still, they are fiercely loyal to each other and faithful to their families. Most are very young men with no knowledge of the outside world. They aren’t geopolitical analysts. All they know is that the people on the other side of the wall have been abusing and killing them since the day they were born. Had I been born into a Muslim family in Gaza I almost certainly would have joined them. On the other hand, had I been born an Israeli Jew. I’d have been in the IDF killing Hamas.
Do you suppose it is a coincidence that the word Violence in Hebrew is Chamac pronounced Hamas? Chamac is violence, wrong, cruelty, injustice, oppressor, and unrighteousness. That the earth was filled with Hamas is one of the reasons that God flooded it. Gen 6:11
For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.Mat 24:37
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.2 Tim 2:4
All warriors train according to a specific battle plan. They drill and drill and drill again until every movement becomes a part of who they are. If you are going to be a spiritual warrior you must do the same. You must first know God’s plan by studying it. His Word is His plan. Those familiar with the truth are less likely to be deceived by a counterfeit. Still, studying God’s word is not enough.
You must become it.
As Christians, we should know that God is a God of His word. He hasn’t broken His covenant with Israel even though they and we break ours all the time. The Jews may have been Appointed to disobey. But it wasn’t so they would be rejected and condemned. It was part of God’s plan to save all who would be saved including Israel before the foundations of the earth.
Let’s face it. Many of the things coming our way are pretty terrifying. Hamas has called for global Jihad. As I see it, it’s not so much a question of if it happens but when. God makes the inevitability of suffering as the Gospel of the Kingdom is fulfilled clear throughout His word. Hence soldiers always prepare to endure. 2 Tim 2:3
Once again, we have a choice. Will our hearts fail us from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth. Luke 21:26 Or will we look up and lift up our heads, because our redemption draws near.”Luke 21:28 Our reaction will be largely determined by how well we have mastered the aforementioned disciplines so that we have enough oil. Mat 25:1-13
Finally, I know that many were encouraged by the grandeur and mystery of God’s perfect plan that we discussed in Appointed. But did you know that
it gets even grander?
While the Jews and the Nation of Israel are the offspring of Jacob, the remaining Arabic people are descendants of Ishmael. Ishmael means God will hear. Many have read Genesis 21 and assumed that Ishmael was rejected and scorned. Yet God promised to also make Him a great nation. Gen 21:18 Ishmael is believed to have settled in Mecca and Muhammad is regarded as his descendant. At the end of the day Jews and Christians are contending with their estranged brother.
Just as we learned that God planned to redeem His disobedient, idolatrous, and adulterous bride Israel and the Church before the foundations of the earth, He has a similar plan for Ishmael.
On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing amid the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”Isaiah 19:24-25
Amidst all the insanity, chaos, and horror resulting from the total depravity of all mankind apart from the blood of Jesus, God is in the process of restoring the entire family of Abraham to which we all belong under one head.
We were headed to North West Arkansas to speak at a Feast of Tabernacles celebration last week when we encountered an annoying delay. I began writing this from a repair shop after hitting a mysterious toolbox on the highway at 75 mph and blowing out two tires. Cathy thought we were about to die when we hit. I was so laser-focused on preventing it that I didn’t have time to think or feel. Ironically only one of three repair shops in the area had two of the tires we needed. “It’s weird.” said the repair man. “We never have these tires.”
“These were delivered this morning.“
Six years overseas taught us a lot about abounding in being brought low, and the secret joy of trusting God in the face of adversity, and material lack. Phil 4:11-23 At the end of the day God always provides wherever He guides. Obedience according to His word is the ultimate protection. It might seem counterintuitive but living in abundance can be more confusing than living abased.
The illusion of security and permanence is so much thicker in the still prosperous first world.
The stark contrast between where we live now versus where we spent the previous six years is almost surreal at times.
Like Honduras, most people scrounge just to survive in most of the world today. Meanwhile, here in the US, people vie for significance and the illusory “next level”. We buy cars and houses and fill them with stuff. We plan vacations and extended vacations called retirement as if tomorrow were promised. Prov 27:1 To question any part of it amounts to swimming upstream against rapids. It’s so much easier and more pleasant to simply go with the flow and be liked by one’s fellow floaters. Otherwise, we’d embrace the truth that most first-world goals are faith’s counterfeit. Little green papers representing debt are not our provider. Insurance policies are not our protectors.
We Americans are an idolatrous bunch.
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14
In a word, we are distracted. We are distracted by our pursuit of material gain. We are distracted by a fear that we do not share enough of our stuff. We are distracted by the threat of losing it. We are distracted by conflict revolving around one group trying to take another group’s stuff. We are distracted by the pressure to take sides. Distraction is the enemy’s primary strategy in the West. I am convinced that part of God’s purpose in sending me overseas was to show me my own level of distraction. In Honduras, I found distraction in my desire to repair the vapor and the sense of purpose I gained from the illusion of thinking I did. We will never fix poverty this side of Jesus’s return. John 12:1-8
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:38-42
Distract (cumbered) is perispáō to draw away, distract to be over-occupied, too busy, about a thing
It’s no coincidence that Israel was attacked on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Whether or not this is the beginning of the prophesied Psalm 83 war, the Ezekiel 38-39 war, or the continuation of the setting of the stage, no human being knows. I would say maybe keep your eye out for Isaiah 17:1. What we do know is that the pressure to align with a side in support of one group killing the other is strong. As believers, we must remember that Jesus died so that all might be saved. His kingdom is not of this world. We weep for Israel and Palestine, Ukraine and Russia alike. In any case, birth pain wars and rumors of warsMat 24:6 remain a sign of the times. Jesus’ instruction regarding our response remains the same.
…see that ye be not troubled:…
for all these things MUST come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Now is a the time to be sober minded.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1Pet 5:8
Therefore, preparing your minds for action,and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Pet 1:13
Sober is Nepho – discreet, to watch, to be calm, and collected in spirit to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.
One thing is certain. There will be unexpected obstacles in the road ahead that none of us can or will anticipate. Others are prophetically described in scripture provided we know scripture. 2 Tim 2:7-15 Therefore consider that both Grace and Joy are the same root – Cháris in Greek. Then examine where your hope lies.
Work out your own salvation with fear and tremblingPhil 2:12
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!Psalms 139:23-24
Do not be distracted or troubled.
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.Phil 2:13