Ephesians and Revival

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Psalm 85:6

It’s probably no coincidence that our weekly Bible study began with the book of Ephesians as what many are calling “revival” broke out at Asbury in Kentucky and apparently now on college campuses all over the country. Paul began his ministry in Ephesus in Acts 19 and 20 and it became a two-year revival. It’s a pretty eventful tale that includes mass repentance and occult books worth 50,000 pieces of silver (50,000 days’ wages) being burned. There was a riot and the seven sons of Sceva got the tar beaten out of them by demons. The tale ends with Paul wishing the Ephesian elders a tearful final farewell with a warning before he left to be imprisoned and eventually beheaded in Rome.

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. “Also from among yourselves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts 20:28-31

The Letter to the Church in Ephesus in Revelations Chapter 2 may provide insight into who these “perverse wolves” were, namely false apostles and the Nicolaitans.

I know your works, your toil, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. verse 2

Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. verse 6

The Nicolaitans were licentious, antinomian, and practiced syncretism. Antinomian can be likened to “greasy grace” today. Syncretism was the unhealthy compromise with pagan society and the idolatrous culture of Ephesus. I am told that similar to the allegorists in Alexandria, the Nicolaitans taught that scripture could only be correctly interpreted by them the elite clergy thereby elevating the “interpreter” above the word itself.

Perhaps you can identify similar patterns within the global Body of Christ today.

If I think of revival in the context of Ephesians I see normal Christianity being practiced in an abnormal setting. It looks like dead people raised Eph 2:1-10 and sleepy people waking up. Eph 5:8-14 Some are more excited than others about the light Christ gives.

American revival (awakening) history began in 1741 when Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon titled “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God”. The fear of God fell and sparked mass repentance that continued into the 1770s. There were at least four more major awakenings that followed. I say four because there was little if any contention regarding the validity of the welsh and Azua street reveals near the turn of the previous century. That being said, it occurs to me that in addition to profound spiritual renewal, the years surrounding every great awakening were marked by various crises, socioeconomic upheaval, and major wars. One might even wonder if genuine revival is God’s way of saying,

“Wake up! A storm is coming!”

“buckle up check your eternal destiny and fill your lamps with oil”.

Whatever our conclusions regarding the definition of “revival” today, we must be mindful that God’s end game is not intermittent encounters with His presence but rather a spotless bride, a wedding, and a wedding feast. 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:27, Revelation 19:7 In that sense what people call revival might be likened to a shower in which the bride scrubs the dirt off her hands and feet – by the washing of the water of the word. Eph 5:26 

Finally, the bride is not represented by one stream, form of worship, experience, or denomination but by those who abide in His word, John 8:31 and keep His commandments.  John 14:15-31

The prerequisite of these is to know what His word says.

Not only what our favorite teachers say about it.

Our goal is to study His Word deeply and together. If you are in Greeneville Tennessee and not doing anything special on Thursdays, maybe join us at the Rock at 6 pm. There’s a handful of Acts 17:11 modern-day Bereans who will be in the main sanctuary searching the scripture for pieces to the puzzle set before us.

You just might have the piece we’ve been searching for.

Maranatha!

What is Truth?

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose, I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him,

What is Truth?…

John 18:37-38

On the surface, Pilate’s question known by some as the Jesting of Pilate seems absurd. Was he arrogant and just sarcastic? Or was it a serious question posed by a man whose very survival depended on his ability to discern truth while trying to manage colliding worldviews?

Truth has been the primary battleground from the beginning. The ongoing deception of the entire world began in Genesis 3:1 with the question “Did God really say?”. Truth was the battleground when Satan tempted Jesus in Mathew 4. Jesus defeated Him with scripture. Later the disciples questioned Jesus regarding the time of the end. He prefaced the entire Olivet discourse with, Take heed that no man deceives you. Mathew 24:4 He further warned them in verse 24.

For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

If truth is the battleground, it behooves us to clarify what truth is.

If you’ve ever navigated by compass then you know how challenging it can be to stay on course. If you travel by land you plot your course from landmark to landmark. If you are sailing in the open ocean you must keep your eye on the compass at all times. There is a big difference between one degree off for one hundred feet and one degree off for one hundred miles.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge specifically how we determine what is true. Throughout Western history, most people, especially Christians believed the universe was governed by objective truth. That truth was both knowable and absolute. That we have a scientific method at all is the direct result of scientists taking Prov 25:2 to heart. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. They assumed the God of the Bible created everything according to the objective laws that He also created, then they prayerfully and worshipfully sought to discover how He did it.

Many are unaware that we have been progressively submerged in an opposing culture of relativism since the advent of postmodernism in 1979. But don’t get stuck on the terms. If words like relativism and postmodernism sound confusing just imagine an entire school of philosophy proudly based upon the words “did God really say?”. Perhaps you have heard “your truth is your truth”. “My truth is my truth”. “If you love me you will honor my truth.”? Long story short postmodern relativism is a large part of we ended up

Here

Assertions like “Truth is objective” or “Truth is relative” are called presuppositions. We can’t prove them beyond a shadow of a doubt so we presuppose or assume they are correct then reason and construct our reality from there. What I would like you to understand is that all worldviews and truth claims are built on one’s presuppositions. World views rarely change until the underlying presupposition changes.

Only God can establish correct presuppositions. 1 Cor 3:6-9

While we can not change the presumptions of unbelievers by arguments alone, sometimes our own theological presuppositions can get off course. This applies to all of us. While we know that discussions between opposing world views can become hostile, discussions between believers must not. Their purpose is mutual edification and sanctification. Prov 27:17 Isaiah 1:18 In any case the Bible gives clear instructions on how to approach any discussion.


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 (Apologia– Greek for a reasoned argument) 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 Pet 3:15-16

How often do we listen to an assertion about God that strikes us as patently false and yet we remain silent out of a sincere desire to love and honor the speaker by honoring their truth? Respectful questioning is the way that “Iron sharpens Iron”. We listen to, and share thoughts, perceptions, and ideas, then compare them with the Word of God. This methodology is what Paul the Apostle praised in Acts 17:11.

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now, these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.     Acts 17:10-11

When we first come to Jesus our surrender is often accompanied by an encounter with His invisible attributes, his eternal power, and his divine nature. This experience becomes our testimony. Our testimonies are vital because faith comes by hearing… Rom 10:17 Testimonies help bolster the confidence of believers and challenge false assumptions in the minds of unbelievers.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Rom 1:20

Unfortunately, Mormons, Muslims, and Hindus also have experiential testimonies. Testimonies inspire us to seek and delve deeper into the truth. But testimony alone is not enough to establish the truth. Hence the full text of Rom 10:17 says Faith comes by hearing and

Hearing by the Word of God!

The God-breathed Word 2 Tim 3:16-17 is what tunes our ears to hear. It is what ultimately separates the practice of Christianity from other faiths. It supports, confirms, and sometimes refutes our perceptions and ideas. The Bible is a glassa mirror in which we see dimly and therefore know in part. 1 Cor 13:12 It is through the lens of the Word that we begin to apprehend the faith Heb 11:1 required to follow Jesus. 2 Cor 5:7.

His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 At the end of the day Truth is found in the sum of it. Psalm 119:160 I don’t know about you but nothing gets me more excited than when a truth I haven’t seen is revealed in His Word. I know what it means to feel like one who finds great spoil. Psalm 119:162. Most of all I praise Him for His truth. I rest in the assurance of knowing the power and importance of His Word because I know He has magnified His Word above all His name. Psalm 138:2

If the Word of God is most important to God then it follows that it should be most important in the life of a believer. It is impossible to know God apart from it. Thankfully Holy Spirit makes it possible through revelation amidst our self-disciplined study and our God-given powers of understanding.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13

They have been declared in His Word.

As for other ways of hearing and knowing God, e.g. prophetic words, we can be certain that they are real. So is falsity. Falsity happens when a speaker usurps the authority of God’s Word. Therefore we are commanded to test everything.

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

At the risk of being redundant,

we test everything with the Word of God.

Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev 19:10

We ask Holy Spirit to guide and lead us into all truth contained in scripture – to teach us about the character, nature, and plan of our God who does not change. Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8. We endeavor to be good Bereans in the interpretation of revelations, ideas, perceptions, presuppositions, and experiences. We all see as in a glass darkly. It makes sense that we all might see better if we see together. We believe that we can and should Study God’s Word both individually and as a community because Jesus affirmed it when he prayed,

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17

Maranatha

For The Love of Sid

“It’s not glamorous here but it is glorious” – Able Carrico –

While you won’t find the glitz associated with big social media-driven mega ministries, there are enough love, joy, and miracles in this place to confirm God’s presence. In our case we see the Lord calling us deeper into the other fruits of the spirit especially peace, patience, faithfulness, and self-control which can be unwittingly sidelined in charismatic circles. More often than not their cultivation takes place in the context of His longsuffering.

All that being said, the following is excerpted from a previous blog and describes just one of my experiences with a Holston child. It is my experience and by no means representative of the average Holston child or any official position of Holston or Holston staff. If your spirit is quickened and your heart resonates with what you read then you just may be called to work here with our rejected, abandoned, and traumatized, adolescents, and or their parents.  

Snapping turtles will invariably bite any hand that tries to feed them. I was a snapping turtle as a teen. Those who have heard my testimony or read some of my previous posts will know what I mean. God loved me despite me. Ephesians 2 Several of those whom I’ve had the distinct pleasure of serving are the same. One particular boy has a special place in my heart. I can’t tell you his real name so I’ll call him “Sid” after “The Evil Sid” from the movie Toy Story. 

Sid is the marginalized and forgotten archetype of a traumatized child.

Our Sid made a bomb just for fun and accidentally blew himself up. While his physical injuries were healed it was part of the reason for his being sent to Holston. I get that. I made bombs when I was a boy too. In this case, it was the overarching paradigm for Sid’s daily existence. He laughed while telling me he’d enjoyed the burns on half his body because he “got high for free”. “They gave me the good drugs!” he laughed. As one might expect, Sid had a particularly foul mouth.  My supervisor counted the number of times in the course of three minutes that Sid referred to me in the urban rendition of a female dog. She told me she quit counting at forty-seven.  That’s not accounting for the myriad of other profane conjunctions. He was particularly frustrated that day because he’d dropped the pencil with which he’d planned to stab me.  “Go – head bend over and pick it up so I can kick you in yo face!” I held his gaze and calmly kicked it away.

“You a b#&*!” Sid snapped.

Still, Sid was witty at times. “I need to s*&t!” he blurted. “Can you find another word?” I asked. “Ok,” Sid said. “How about “shoot?”. “That’s fine,” I replied. If you keep cussing it’ll be another grounding. “Grounding” at Holston means sitting alone at a table where you can read, write, color or draw without talking to any other kids as they play games or watch T.V. Sid was always grounded. In fact, his record was twelve hours without being grounded.

Later that evening Sid told me he was about to shoot himself.

“Are you thinking of killing yourself?” I asked completely forgetting our prior conversation.

“Blank No!… Remember? You told me to find another word.”

“Can you unlock the bathroom?”

Sid ran away for a second time a few days later.  We call it AWOL. The police brought him back in handcuffs a few hours later. He was cursing and spouting off about “swinging on staff” as soon as the cuffs were off. I guess he thought he sounded pretty tough even though he’d clearly been crying. The cops told us he’d surrendered when they threatened to release the dog. 

They thought that was pretty funny.

They didn’t have a dog. 

Every day I’d greet Sid with a smile and a hand on his shoulder.  “How ya doing Sid?” to which he’d reply,

“Blank you! You blanking blanker!!!”

“Sigh…That’s a restart on your grounding Sid.”

This went on for weeks. Every day I’d let Sid snap until he was tired of snapping which was usually when he fell asleep. I’d hold him accountable and give him every available consequence. I’d tell him he needed to stop proverbially blowing himself up – that threatening me amounted to him holding a gun to his head and screaming “stop or I’ll shoot!” But Sid didn’t care. At least that’s what he wanted us and maybe himself to believe. One day the Lord prompted me to stick my head in his room after he’d had a particularly rough phone call. He had at least three tears streaming down his face as I spoke.

“You don’t want to hear this now”, I began. “But let me just plant one seed. If you ever get tired of blowing yourself up and give your life to Jesus, that demon that is destroying your life will leave.”

“Hell yeah,” Sid said.

The next day I told Sid I loved him after he called me and other staff the usual slew of explicatives.  He finally laughed. 

“You really like the bad kids don’t you?”

“Hell yeah!”

Then one of Sid’s sidekicks, asked me if there is anything a kid could say or do that would make me hit them? 

“Absolutely not” I replied.

“Well…what if I hit your wife?” Sid grinned.

It was around that time that Sid started to open up about the most horrible trauma you can imagine.

“My mom is a whore.” he began. “One of her boyfriends was beating her up.  I thought he was gonna kill her.  So I grabbed a bat and beat his @$$! Then my mom called the police and pressed charges on me!”

Sid’s favorite aunt shot herself in the chest and bled out in front of him when he was 12. “I didn’t know what to do…” he said nearly crying before he could get his walls back up. Sid had concluded that not giving a “blank” is the key to survival. I told him that’s only true if you’re planning to do life in prison.

“That’s where I’m going,” he said.

Then a miracle happened.  Sid started saying “thank you” instead of “F-you” and “good night” instead of “Blank you mother blankers”. One day he stopped on his way to do his laundry, turned to me, and said,

“You know I could be a really good man if I changed.” 

If you don’t quit; you win. -Heidi Baker-

The next day Sid asked me a question. “Hey, Mr. Brian, ya know what you remind me of?” “What’s that Sid?” Given the previous night’s revelation, I was half expecting some genuine spiritual fruit.

“A Q-tip!” he cackled.

“I can see why you might say that” I laughed.

Sid’s shoulders sank as he walked away.

Then Sid tried to form a gang of other broken boys. He facilitated a classroom brawl and tried to lead a rebellion. In the end, they took him out in shackles and drove away.

One plants, one waters, but only God gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 3

I wept for Sid.

 The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.  2 Pet 3:15

One reason why I have such a heart for the Sids of the world is that they have had transparency imposed upon them. Their Sid reputations are fully documented often in a way that embellishes the bad. They don’t bother to pull punches in telling us the truth about what they think. Where others see a menace to society, I see budding apostle Pauls if the scales would fall from their eyes.

Hence when “F-you!” suddenly becomes “thank you” you can be fairly certain of genuine transformation.

We do a lot of things to facilitate transformation. At the end of the day, I suspect that one of the most significant ways a child encounters the Love of God at Holston is when we don’t beat the tar out of them when they do everything in their power to prove they are “Children appointed to wrath.” Ephesians 2:3. And while so many in our identity-focused culture recoil when I say that I work with Sids because,

I am Sid

Those who really know me know it’s true. The Sids of the world is what will keep me at Holston.

Any power or ability I may have to love is the fruit of my brokenness. Luke 7:47

My prayer is that the gift of repentance would fall as it did in H.A. Baker’s Visions Beyond the Veil. Still, the older I get, the more I am convinced that places to which God has us “GO” are more for our transformation than His need for us to accomplish His will. Those who proclaim they want “More! More! More!” – those truly called to the “deep that cries out to deep” will encounter, and become increasingly identified with the brokenness, and sorrow, of our Lord, not only His joy. Isaiah 53.

If this message resonates with your heart and you identify with the Sids of the world, then maybe give Able a call and he’ll point you in the right direction.

MARANATHA

The Ketchup of Jesus

Today is Halloween and I for one am cringing. The sheer number of professing Christians who believe they can sanctify the most culturally accepted and overtly Satanic Holiday on their ritual calendar is, in my view, insane. I know people who vehemently defend it as a cultural manifestation that should be honored. Nothing could be further from the truth. While names change according to time and culture, torture, sex and blood rituals, and human sacrifice have their roots in the worship of Baals and Belials of antiquity, the reason for God’s judgment of Israel in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk.

The “Harvest” that so many believe they are celebrating to supplant Halloween in Jesus’s name has nothing to do with Jesus. Its roots are found in a Druidic tradition whereby a human sacrifice would be offered and buried in a corn field to ensure a good corn Harvest. Ironically corn has almost no nutritional value and depletes the soil of nitrogen. Even more ironic is that so many shun God’s feasts first mentioned in Genesis 1:14 but embrace Halloween.

You can only argue on behalf of your confirmation and normalcy bias after reading this.

My former wife Jamie, now deceased, was a victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse. While the so-called Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s has been conveniently dismissed as a conspiracy theory, she had childhood scars to prove it. For example, there were hundreds of scars up and down her back from a box cutter. They would cut her each time she screamed. I will spare you the more gory details of what she endured. You can ask me in person if you want to know more.

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. Ephesians 5:11-12

While I’m not going to write a dissertation on occult ritual abuse, I never would have believed it had I not lived with its consequences for more than a decade. There is a plethora of available info for those interested in the resulting trauma-induced mental illness on websites like The Insight Foundation. Suffice it to say that there are two schools of Satanism. The more contemporary and sensationalized Church of Satan is atheistic and mocks the idea of an actual being called the devil.

The other is theistic and knows the devil is real.

I’m writing this now because on this day I am reminded of how often we apply the Blood of Jesus like Ketchup to things that need to be crucified not sanctified.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

A lot of people will disagree but it seems to me that “being conformed to His image” involves constantly learning and coming to terms with just how miserably conformed I am to the world. It’s not a popular message. 

It was in the wilderness of foreign missions that Holy Spirit showed me how flippantly I had regarded the Blood of Jesus through which I am redeemed and afforded the opportunity to become a son. John 1:12-13 Instead of pursuing the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified in the fellowship of His sufferings, I had used it as a comforting condiment to justify and cover my petty worldly existence like ketchup on a really bad cheeseburger. I’d redacted the word of God to make it fit my normalcy and confirmation biases. I conformed it to fit my worldview instead of letting it conform me to the image of His son. I made excuses when brokenness and repentance were required. The process began in Africa, and Honduras and continues today. I call it peeling the onion of self. I know it was Holy Spirit, not just my discursive thought because the fear of God fell on me. The closest comparison I can find is what happened to the delinquent Chinese boys in H.A. Baker’s book Visions Beyond the Veil.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness… 1 Tim 4:7

Halloween is not a day for celebration. It is a day for which we need to repent on behalf of ourselves and our ancestors.

The blood of Jesus is not a condiment!

But don’t take my word for it. Our prayer is that people would take Halloween and their worldview before the Lord and scrutinize it through the lens of scripture like the noble Bereans in Acts 17:11.

Now, these Jews were nobler than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

MARANATHA!

Enantiodromia – In Jesus’s Name

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 ask amiss that they may spend it on their pleasures James 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.

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.

It’s about His. Col 3:3

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’ is mēdeísdesiring 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.

The Pendulum

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.

Mary Queen of Scots

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.

His hair burned, his eyes melted and he died.

So much for John 13:35

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.”

Agreed!

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

God (not man) establishes Kings

Meanwhile, we have learned that the enemy uses human things to pervert God’s things and God’s things to make the enemy’s things look Godly. Mat 10:16

If you dance with the devil, then you haven’t got a clue, for you think you’ll change the devil, but the devil changes you.

Milo Yiannopoulos Bathes in Pig’s Blood at First Conservative Pro-Trump Art Show

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,

“Not of this world.John 18:36

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.

Hence we are told to forgive and pray for our enemies, not kill them. Jesus came to conquer sin and death, to transform individual hearts and minds, not governments. He came to conform us to the image of His Son.

That Image is not an American

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

Enantiodromia

Get off the pendulum.

Obey His Word In Jesus’s Name John 13:35

Maranatha!

CRT Genealogy and Scripture Rebuttal

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

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

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

The beginning

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

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

Our current cycle begins here.

The following timeline and descriptions are not exhaustive. They are intended as tools to help those interested narrow the focus of their research.

1789-99 Rousseau – egalitarianism – French Revolution

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

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

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

1911 Chinese Revolution

Russian Communist Revolution 1917

American Communist Party forms 1919

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

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

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

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

Marcuse was perhaps the most classically Marxist of the three and proposed that certain ideas, speech, behaviors, etc. must be disallowed. It could be argued that Marcuse is father of the current “Cancel Culture”.

1945-52 Chinese Communist Revolution

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

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

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

1967 Jacques Derrida develops what is commonly known today as “deconstructionism”. While it originally focused on textual criticism that is not without value in terms of Bible exegesis, it became foundational to cultural Marxist deconstruction we know as “cancel culture” today. It also underpins the process whereby so many Christians are deconstructing and falling away from the faith. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Convergence theory: Whites are incapable of doing anything except in their interest. For example, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is accused of attempting to conceal her racial bias by adopting black children. She couldn’t have done this out of genuine love. But rather to appease her own guilt for her inherent white privilege.

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

4. All knowledge is socially constructed.  Language forms the building blocks. What you say matters more than what you do. Today looting and burning by oppressed groups are “peaceful protests”. The January 6th, 2021 protest in Washington D.C. was terrorism by white supremacists. George Floyd is a hero because he died in the custody of white police. Ashley Babbit was a terrorist because she tried to climb unarmed through a window and was shot dead by a black police officer.

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

2011 the Occupy Wall Street movement emerges seemingly out of nowhere. Ironically funded by “one perecenter” billionaires like George Soros.  The emerging classical Marxist narrative seeks to marginalize the 1% in and threatens to “burn it all down”.

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

2014 Michael Brown killed in St. Louis MO

2016 Donald Trump elected POTUS.

2017 ANTIFA emerges as a formidable presence in the USA. while the group traces its roots back to 1936 opposition to the Nazis its reemergence might be traced to the Occupy Movement. ANTIFA could be termed an anarchic-communist group with a horizontal leadership structure similar to Central American Drug cartels.  However, the extent of their operations, organizational and communication sophistication are evidence of external financing and some form of centralized leadership.  These are the jackbooted brown shirt-type thugs that along with BLM are what Vladimir Lenin called “useful idiots”.  As has been the case in every Marxist revolution, these will be the first to be lined up and shot if and when the desired Marxist regime is achieved.

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

2020 Ahmaud Arbery shot by vigilantes in GA.

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

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

2021  Patrisse Cullors purchases four homes for 3.2 Million dollars.

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

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

These people are accursed. 

Bible Verses

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

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

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

Gen 1:26 all of are His image-bearers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARANATHA

Am I a Moron?

No that’s not snark. It’s a serious question that every thinking person must be willing to ask. We don’t learn and correct errors by shutting our ears and digging our heels in the dirt while telling ourselves we are smarter and right. We do so by considering the questions and evidence presented by others and examining our thinking. 

“Why do I believe what I believe?” should be the very first question we ask ourselves. 

Moron

Moron (n.) 1910, medical Latin, “one of the highest class of feeble-minded persons,” Adopted by the American Association for the Study of the Feeble-minded with a technical definition “adult with a mental age between 8 and 12;” used as an insult since 1922 and subsequently dropped from technical use.

According to Piaget, thinking in children between the ages of 8-12 becomes more logical in terms of concrete events.  They begin using inductive logic to reason and derive conclusions from specific information and arrive at a general principle. E.g. “If my friend pees on the electric fence and gets shocked, the same thing will probably happen to me. Therefore, I shouldn’t pee on any fence because it could be electrified.” While thinking becomes more logical, it tends to be rigid. Abstractions and hypotheticals often “go over their heads and under their feet.” An example might be considering the potential relationship between individual hydration levels, footwear, or the lack of thereof and electrical conductivity when peeing on or near an electric fence. 

Subtle humor and innuendo are also abstract.

So how can one avoid the pitfalls of thinking like a moron? While IQ and maturity are obvious factors, there are some tools we can use to check ourselves, especially when involved in a heated debate where we all tend to regress into morons at times. They are called logical fallacies.  If a calm person tells you that your argument is fallacious, they are not cussing at you. They are just referring to one or more of the following fallacies that need to be corrected. They go by various names, however, the principles remain the same. This list is not exhaustive. However, based on my experience, they appear to be most common in public discourse, especially on Social Media.

The List

Appeal to Authority – is a circular argument that produces a conclusion based on one’s faith in the credibility of a source. For example,  “The CDC and FDA says substance “A” is safe.” How do you know the CDC and FDA are correct?  “Because they are the CDC and FDA.”  The argument is fallacious because it neither proves nor disproves anything about substance “A”. It is merely a statement of who we trust. Of course this argument might be less fallacious if they were never wrong in the past.

Ad Hominem – involves attacking the credibility of the messenger as a counter-argument while avoiding the original argument or question at hand. Here’s a fun example, “The Theory of Gravitational Effect” is invalid because Issac Newton was a patriarchal, alt-right, Christian extremist.”  Laugh if you will but this is literally where education is headed if we allow it.

The Genetic Fallacy – is Ad Hominem’s cousin and assumes the validity or the lack thereof of a piece of information or an argument based on the perceived credibility of the source. For example, when Senator Bernie Sanders questioned the 911 narrative and its role in justifying the invasion of two countries and the forfeiture of our constitutional rights, his arguments were dismissed by conservatives on the basis that he was a far-left democrat. Today we have democrats who correlate those who question current vaccine safety and efficacy with white supremacy and support for Donald Trump. That Trump was the founder of Operation Warp Speed is irrelevant.

The Strawman – is a smokescreen and involves countering an argument by arguing a point that was never mentioned and is not relevant to the issue at hand. For example “Isaac Newton read the Bible more than any other Book. His Christian worldview led him to believe in an objective reality governed by objective truth and objective physical laws that he sought to uncover.” Strawman: “The Bible is not a valid source because it condones slavery!!”

The Slippery Slope – is sometimes called a “False Equivalency”; E.g. “Last week my friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. On Saturday he hit his head on the floor. He went back to the doctor on Monday and the tumor was gone.” Conclusion: Brain tumors are cured by hitting one’s head on a floor. Is there a correlation? Maybe. But correlations alone only yield questions that identify a possible need for further investigation. They are never proof of cause by themselves. Unfortunately, slippery slopes make for excellent clickbait.

The implication that these women died because they were unvaccinated is a slippery slope. Could the lack of vaccination have played a role? Perhaps. We do not have enough information to conclude either way.  In the meantime headlines and media, assertions generate a whole lot of fear and engagement. 

“Who benifits most from that?”

Appeals to Emotion – headlines like “500 new cases on Kauai!!!” generate a response from the more primitive parts of our brains like the amygdala. Fear overrides the higher cortical areas from which logic, decision making, and self-control are derived. Anyone following the data knows that “cases” alone means nothing in itself. Yet, MSM depictions of worst-case scenarios no matter how rare generate a proverbial stew of fear and rage that can be used to frame and charge public narratives- then policies and laws.  History proves that an emotionally charged public will gladly forfeit its constitutional rights for the illusion of safety.  Those who desire to think beyond the level of a moron must discipline themselves to suspend emotion when triggered and ask “What am I being asked to believe?” and “Who benefits most if I do?”

The Band Wagon fallacy is a form of “Appeal to Authority” based on consensus. E.g. “The majority of doctors, scientists, people, (insert chosen group) _______, agree that such and such is true.” The majority of secular Germans and Jews during WWII agreed that their government was incapable of genocide. 

Consensus alone means nothing in itself.

The bandwagon fallacy is perhaps most applicable to Millennials and Gen Z because it is so driven by the need to belong. As a group, these are the least likely to go against the tide of opinion within their peer group. Here’s a 3 min video of two additional Bandwagon supporting principles that should scare you and maybe even save you some money in the process.

Normalcy Bias –  supports the Band Wagon fallacy.  It is rooted in the fact that our expectations of the world tend to shape what we think we see. For example, a large portion of the American population believes that their preferred political party always operates in their best interest; that almost none ever do is irrelevant except at election time. Aside from history books, most Americans have no experience with Democide (death by government). Yet it was the leading global cause of death during the entire 20th century. While most thinking people can choose to adjust when told there is more to the picture than meets the eye, the first thing we see is usually governed by our normalcy bias.

Rabbit or Duck?

Slothfull Induction – is the refusal to question or examine existing conclusions when evidence that warrants further investigation is presented. All the other fallacies ultimately lead to Slothful Induction. This fallacy is most clearly seen in ad hominem dismissals like “Libtard”, “Trumper” and or exclamations of “conspiracy theorist!” any time an alternative question, hypothesis, or viewpoint that conflicts with the status quo or individual normalcy bias is articulated. While history is ripe with conspiracies, normalcy bias declares they can not, will not happen today. The urban use of the term conspiracy theory specifically refers to a conclusion rooted in a slippery slope. For example, “Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci are conspiring to depopulate the earth with vaccines.” is a conspiracy theory. “If saving lives is really the goal then why isn’t every possible treatment option being made available?” is a logical question.  “The governments of the world are engaged in transhuman experimentation in direct violation of the Nuremberg Code!” is a conspiracy theory. “Given that our government has engaged in illegal medical experiments that violated the Nuremberg code in the past e.g. the Tuskegee experiment; why should I trust the government now?” is a logical question. Interestingly Slippery Slope conspiracy theories do a lot to ensure that a genuine conspiracy, should it exist, will never be exposed.

The benefits of not being a moron

Understanding logical fallacies can help us to avoid arriving at premature conclusions when further questioning is indicated. It can help us to avoid being manipulated and having our valid questions dismissed such that we forfeit our own best interests. Logical fallacies apply to everything from purchasing a car to voting to choosing the best course of medical treatment. Most importantly it could keep us from forfeiting our God-given rights to

“Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness”. 

Listen, no one thinks perfectly. It certainly is not my intention to mock or put anyone down. The truth is that all of us are morons at times. We think better when we think together. “If I were the devil…” as Paul Harvey used to say, I would be looking for ways to prevent that. I can respectfully discuss any issue with anyone willing to commit to avoiding fallacious arguments and self-correction when a fallacy is identified. That takes maturity and a willingness to be wrong or at least to not win. Unfortunately, this is very rare these days and I have come to expect the worst in any public dialogue. Hence, at the end of the day, I have written this post so that I have a simple cut and paste response to 99% of the narratives that come my way on SM. There is simply no point in wasting time disputing the consensus of an overwhelmingly self-destructive neo collective. Feel free to use all, part, or none of it to save yourself the time and the frustration of being triggered into being a moron.

Maranatha

The God of This and That

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

-Heidi Baker-

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

I suspect that is by design. 

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

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

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

It can not be humanly imparted or taught.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The miracle of suffering

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

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

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

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

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

I have a hypothesis.

THIS…

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

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

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

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

…and THAT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who knew?

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

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

Rev 21:2

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t worry. I know you.”

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

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

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

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

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

Our God is a God of this and that.

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

Yeah, that’s a mind-bender.

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

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

Maranatha

Begin With The End In Mind

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

Nick Franks

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

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

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

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

Eli and Saul not so much.

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

That’s a lot of pressure.

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

David is the model.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we do that?

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

“If you love me keep my commandments.”

– Jesus –

So what does that look like?

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

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

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

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

Things below involve ours.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anathema means accursed. Accursed means going to hell

Begin with the end in mind.

Maranatha!

The Hammer and The Lamp

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

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

Jason in the white T-Shirt

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

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

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

The CHAIR

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intimacy

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

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

I chose to be who I am.

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


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

Light exposes what is hidden in darkness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being conformed to His image involves considering these things.

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

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

Exposure Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please also keep my friend Jason in your prayers.

Maranatha!