I know it’s Christmas and depending on the audience, “Merry Christmas” can be a sincere wish, an act of defiance, or a virtue signal. As for us, Marantha seems a more fitting greeting this year.
It’s been about a month since our little mission cabin was destroyed in an Iota landslide. In a few days, it will be exactly a year since God called us out of the City of Refuge into the mountains here.
To say that we loved our little cabin would be an understatement for sure. Of course, we always knew our time there would come to an end. That awareness only added to the sacredness. Ironically last year I wrote that Water brought us here. I guess it’s only fitting that water-soaked earth should take us out.
I ended that post with Proverbs 3:5-6.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Like a lot of people, we’ve had our times of wrestling with God this year. Perhaps you can relate. “Why Lord did you bring us here only to lock us down in our house for 13 out of every 14 days.” Yet “Why?” is the cry of spoiled children. “What are you doing Lord?” is the only valid one. The only thing that came to mind each time I asked was the word “preserve”. Cathy heard “worship me”. Meanwhile, each time we stopped wrestling with God over our situation, let go, and focused on Him and His word, He’d bring His purpose into our lives.
I can’t describe the confusion I experienced as I walked down the road that morning and realized that our house was completely gone then saw the two boulders laying side by side in the exact place where our heads would have been had we chosen to sleep there that night.
I did get part of an answer to my question for the year.
The Lord had directed our steps and preserved us.
The other part came from Jacob. The story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32 has always been one of my favorites. It was during our morning devotions the other day that the word “preserved” emerged again in verse 30. I’d never really noticed it before. We looked it up and found the original Hebrew word is “Natsal”.
It means to “deliver, rescue and save.
“Natsal” also means to strip.
We had been stripped of everything but the clothes on our backs and we were homeless in the third world. And yet a strange supernatural peace enveloped us as well as an even stronger bond between us as husband and wife.
That bond and peace remain with us now.
It is a peace that comes with the reassurance that His hand is indeed upon us and the understanding that true worship is trusting Him no matter what. We did. We do. If we leave this earth tomorrow it is only because our appointed time has arrived.
In the meantime, He will preserve us.
Like most full-time missionaries we’ve had our share of weird harrowing experiences. One thing we have observed is that life goes on as normal until suddenly it doesn’t. One minute your driving down the road singing silly songs then staring down the barrels of rifles or threatened with spears in the next. In any case, facing one’s imminent demise is always surreal. One thing is certain. All of life as we know it will one day be swept away. As our 78-year-old friend, Maria just said,
“He gives and takes away.”
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Mat 6:25-27
It didn’t take long for us to release all our worldly possessions that were buried beneath mud and wreckage. The ease with which we did this surprised everyone especially us. A few days later our Honduran friends asked us to come to their house. When we arrived we found clothing and other things that the community had painstakingly dug up and washed for us.
They even dug my drone and a pouch full of Cathy’s special heirloom jewelry she’d made 40 years ago out of three feet of mud.
The love was priceless and palpable even if our hearts sank under the renewed burden of stuff.
That sounds crazy.I know.
What are you doing Lord?
While we are certain more will be revealed, at this point, the joy of a James 1:2-4 testing that increased our faith and the contentment described by Paul in Phil 4:11-13 appear to be the biggest takeaway right now. It’s one thing to read and know the word. Living is is another.
Since then we’ve been consumed with helping those less fortunate than ourselves. If you follow us and or Hope In Time Ministries on FaceBook then you know what we’ve been up to. As for our welfare, we have a fully furnished house to stay in until March 1st.
We have no idea where we are going after that. Mat 6:25-27.
The devastation here can be mind-numbing and the temptation to check out is real.
Yet on this day, our hearts go out to so many in the 1st world. Those grasping for the material. Those praying that their old lives will be restored and those with all hope in a political candidate. Those with the same hope in a vaccine. Those who remain terrified and angry about so many things beyond their control. Those consumed by the cares of this world and are blind.
To those I say, “there is a better way”.
I’m not a prophet, fortune teller, or seer but I’m guessing that events in the coming weeks and years are going to draw many to the Lord and cause others to fall away. I believe there is a message in the recent events of our lives that applies to all.
Everyone on earth has a world view. Everyone frames their lives accordingly. Every world view is framed or bracketed by unprovable assumptions regarding one’s origin and destiny. It is on these assumptions that we all place our trust and fill the space in between. That so many today are thoroughly consumed with anxiety and fear over things that they can not control let alone understand is not the result of events between the brackets.
They are a result of bad bracketing.
Maranatha is an Aramaic word that depending on how it is pronounced means “Jesus has come” and “Jesus is coming”. It is the gospel of the Kingdom condensed into one word. It is the truth claim that brackets the life of every true follower of Christ regardless of how messed up things might be in the space in-between. It is the truth claim the brackets our existence and supports everything we do whether or not we have a place to lay our heads. Let’s face it. “Hard” is a relative term. This past year has been hard for everyone. Yet while Jesus did not promise freedom from suffering He did promise peace. That peace is contingent on the bracketing.
There is an amazing woman here in Honduras. Today is her birthday and I have nothing to give her so I thought I would tell you all just a little about her. I’ve learned more from her than any other human being on earth. She is tough, obedient to God, and has an immovable faith. She is a living epistle of Truth, love, and the compassion of Jesus Christ. She is always available even when it’s uncomfortable, always willing, always stops for the one.
Her best days, the ones that most fill her with the manifest presence of God and make her face light up with His light and love are those spent walking miles through the mountains carrying a few bags of rice and beans to feed the poor and then sit in the dirt with them. Lower and slower and to know Christ and Him crucified is her goal. Her greatest most heartfelt desire is that others would know Jesus as she does and more. She is a true worshipper who loves God more than anyone I know. She loves to dance. To see her dance before the Lord in worship is to witness one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on earth. Her very presence is a constant reminder and frequent conviction to me of what is most important. I am so very blessed and honored to call her my wife.
I want to honor her today in particular because today 11/22/2020 is her birthday. She lost almost everything and doesn’t even have a home. Still her greatest concern right now is for those who just lost theirs.
Her favorite movie is The Passion of the Christ. Lately she has been pondering aloud the scene where after being nailed to the cross the soldiers pull Jesus into a vertical position and the cross settles into the waiting post hole. Meanwhile Mary rises from her knees, her fists full of the earth she’d been clutching. Her hands slowly and reluctantly open in apparent surrender.
Cathy frequently wonders what she would have done had she been present when Jesus was tortured and crucified. Would she have become dejected as the Apostles did. Or would she have screamed “Why?!!” in rage at God. What was in the natural the most horrific treatment of any human being at the hands of another became the path of redemption for all of humanity.
His ways are not our ways.
For example, this Land Rover that you saw parked across from our house the day before the landslide does not belong to us. We don’t own a car. It is a ministry vehicle and was used to rescue us after the landslide. Josh picked it up the day it started raining because someone had siphoned half a tank of gas. It would be gone and we would still be completely stranded had the gas not been stolen.
While Jesus is the eternal answer to everything that ails us, Mary is the often under rated example of what it actually looks like to embrace that Truth here in earth. Perhaps it is the suffering of childbirth and motherhood that afforded Mary and all mothers with the deepest understanding of God’s grace and compassion such that they become living epistles. All I know is that Cathy is God’s living epistle to me and more people than she knows.
Today I want everyone to know it.
I want to honor my wife today because today is her birthday and I almost lost her. If there is anything at all that is good in me here on this earth it’s because God knew I needed her for a wife. Frankly, I don’t know how I would ever go on without her.
Ironically we slept under this statue of Joseph on the night our home was washed away. I felt, but could not identify the significance at the time. There’s not a whole lot written about Joseph in the Bible. We are left to imagine how he might have felt and what he thought as he became homeless and stood by and supported his wife who was quite literally filled with the manifest presence of God. When I tell you that children and adults in our village cry and ask us to stay, they are not crying to me. They are crying to and over the loss of Cathy. Cathy’s birthdays have been historically tragic. There is a time and season for everthing. This is Cathy’s season. I can not give her anything. Even if I did she’d give it away. My prayer today is that God grant her His peace and joy. All I can say is that today
I think I have a better idea of what it it must have been like to walk in Joseph’s shoes.
We’ve got a long hard road ahead of us. If you think of it perhaps say a prayer for Cathy today. I am so much more aware of just how much she has impacted the lives of others than she. I just wanted the world to know just a few of the reasons why I love her and am so amazed by her.
When people ask missionaries about missions the easiest answer is to give details about ministries and what we’d like to think we see God doing through us and around us. There have been times when our own reports sound more like an investment prospectus than a report of what God is doing. Most missionary blogs and newsletters do not begin with a list of failures and brokenness. And while the secular cults of personality and comparison have invaded the church and made the quest for personal significance and success into idols,
His strength is made perfect in weakness.” We would rather boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. For when we are weak, then we are strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Brokenness remains the key to missions.
Therefore we are always compelled to first qualify ourselves according to our failures and infirmities before we qualify any ministry we do. Our lives before Christ included things like addiction, divorce, suicidal ideation, and prison to name a few. I struggled with alcoholism for two decades and failed at everything before being instantly delivered from it and the buckshot coming my way amidst a point-blank shotgun blast. I wasn’t looking for Jesus at the time. I was looking to die. I did. Cathy was essentially looking to do the same when Jesus delivered her. John 15:16
The extent to which God uses us today remains a function of our brokenness and the utter dependence upon Jesus that flows from it.
That brokenness is not just historical.
Like most aspiring missionaries we had dreams of changing the world for Jesus when we began. That’s before we accepted that God may use us but He doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He places us where ever He does because where He puts us is the best place for Him to conform us to His image. Rom 8:29 As easy it might be to tell tails of adventure and harrowing brushes with death, and how we are saving Honduras in spite of it. The fact is that while the adventure is real it is God and sometimes Hondurans who save us. If that weren’t bad enough, for the record, we have never led a single person to Christ. We have planted and watered a lot of seed. 1 Cor 3:6-8 We have also been present when people made the decision to surrender John 4:36-38. We have never healed anyone. We have seen God heal people when we prayed for them. John 11:4 I once saw a demon-possessed man set free on a short term mission trip as I prayed. But honestly, I only prayed because I was last in line in a fire tunnel and the pastor was yelling at me. I didn’t know what to say so I just started saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” over and over until he fell down sobbing at my feet. People said it was amazing. I was more amazed than anyone because I didn’t believe in any of that stuff at the time. When we teach we assume we are there for one person because most people usually don’t care what we say. As it turns out we frequently teach in tongues. Many times we hear, “Wow I really liked what you said.” Only we never said what they heard. My point is that our path was and is one of God accomplishing His will in spite of us rather than because of us. We are not spiritual special forces as some are prone to view missionaries. We are people that God uses to prove that He can use anyone anywhere provided they are a yielded vessel. He is the potter. We are His cracked pots. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other as His will and purpose unfolds before us.
Most times it feels like we are just along for the ride.
I realize this might not be the purposeful and intentional way in which many imagine the great the commission should unfold.
However, it does lend some perspective to Eph 2:8-10
There is a tendency in the contemporary body of Christ to pursue Mat 17 Mount of Transfiguration type experiences. Many Christians spend their entire lives chasing prophetic affirmations mostly about themselves and encounters with the manifest presence of God. Yet the mountain top is the place where God reveals Himself as the anchor to which we tether our faith as we venture into the valley below. It is the firey crises of faith in the valleys of life that burn off the dross and purify us.
Becoming a missionary is volunteering for the valley.
COVID was one such valley for us as we found ourselves locked down immediately after moving to a remote mountain village where we didn’t know anyone and many had never even met a gringo before. The State Department kept sending emails advising us to evacuate. When the border closed we knew we were committed and that we were on our own if we get sick. Several months in, depression and anxiety crept up on Cathy. A sense of futility bordering on apathy snuck up on me as I heard that familiar Gen 3 whisper, “Did God really say?…” “Did God really place you here? Or were we imagining things?” There were only two places to go to at this point. One was what AIM alumni know as the “Q” zone (the quit zone) deep in the valley of the “Project Mood Curve”. The other was deeper into the Secret Place.
Thankfully we were both compelled toward the latter.
Yet even that was a function of His grace more than it was our will and our choice.
That’s when His purpose opened up. God confirmed that we are exactly where He wants us.
Perhaps the biggest difference between full-time missions in the third world and ministry in the first is that missionaries have fewer options from which to choose before God becomes the only one. While the first world rewrites the book of Ecclesiastes, missions offers a short cut to the truth in chapter 12.
Never the less it is a paradoxical process of growth that He brings us through.
All that being said, “becoming” a missionary is simple. It is hearing and being obedient to God’s call regardless of whether it makes sense. It is counting the cost and laying down in faith whatever is, for what God’s word says could and should be.
“Being” a missionary is living in James 1:4 and sometimes enduring the reality of the verses immediately before.
Lately, it’s been walking through mountain jungles to deliver food because of the lockdown.
And filling the gap at our house because fear canceled school.
Of course, the true purpose is neither food nor school but opening doors to eternal Truth. More often it means planting in hope that another may harvest. One thing we have learned;
People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.
We are into our fifth year on the field and our fourth year in Honduras.
Right now, we are in a fairly remote mountain location called Cerro Azul Meambar and in Luke 10 forerunning stages of a new ministry among partly Miskito Indian people. That means going low and slow, building relationships and trust, and becoming a part of our new community. We do a lot of children’s ministry. Children are great ambassadors between us and sometimes more skeptical adults.
Our real heart is for discipleship which among other things means involving kids ages 10 -13 in outreach.
The second aspect of forerunning is not as fun. It is finding and binding the Mat 12:22-30 strong man. In missions terms, the strong man is the person, issue, or situation that impedes gospel truth. It can be an individual, political party, or social issues like poverty, domestic violence, or addiction, etc. After nearly six months we are narrowing it down. Most children here only attend school up to the 6th grade at which point they might grow coffee and net an average $3 for every hundred pounds of beans they grow. If they harvest for someone else, they might make $2.
Hondurans are notorious for their stoic, and fateful surrender to hopelessness.
Our prayer is that the fateful become faith-filled.
That said, the strong man appears to be alcoholism here.
It makes perfect sense in the spirit. In addition to the two of us being former addicts, I was an adolescent substance abuse counselor and a clinical supervisor for a decade before I was a missionary. For fun, Cathy and I ran a faith-based co-ed transitional housing program for prison inmates. We lived with 5-10 inmates and sometimes their children for twelve years. As much as we have tried to get away and do something different, God continues to place this population in our path. It was our brokenness that led us to Christ. Apparently, it is still the same brokenness that continues to qualify us in ministry. Ok, Lord.
Several years ago, Cathy had a vivid dream involving butterflies before we left for mission school in Africa and then moved to Honduras. Then she began seeing butterflies and butterfly symbols everywhere she went. It was happening so often that it seemed more than just a little prophetic and she began researching the history and symbology of butterflies. As you might expect the butterfly is a universally, age-old symbol of transformation.
Some transformations are sudden. Most are gradual. Romans 12:1-2 tells us “not to be conformed to the ways of the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds”. In Mathew 17:1-13 we see Jesus suddenly transformed in the presence of Peter, James, and John on the mount of transfiguration before leading them into a crisis of faith in the valley below. Israelis call this peak Mt. Tabor or “A Megiddo “ (Above Megiddo). Megiddo is the valley of the final prophetic battle of Armageddon. We were more than amused to find ourselves surrounded by butterflies as we walked this sacred ground when we were blessed with a free ticket to Israel in 2019.
God shows up in so many poignant ways for us since we entered the mission field that only made sense that we would find ourselves surrounded by the most amazing butterflies in Cerro Azul when God uprooted us in January.
There is one variety here that only appears in pairs. They are small, pure white, and too fast to photograph as they dance in perfect unison forming a double helix as they ascend. They fascinate me. Ironically, I hadn’t seen any in several weeks when two of them suddenly appeared as I wrote about them here.
It occurred to me that maybe they were always there, and I had merely stopped seeing them.
We Christians can be rather impetuous in our expectation that God should always do a new thing. The end result can look a lot like ingratitude and even idolatry.
Cathy has always been just a tiny bit anti-dog. Don’t get me wrong, she loves dogs. Unfortunately, she’s allergic to shed animal hair. While we had dogs in Hawaii, they did not enter the house. Here in Honduras, she didn’t even want dogs in our yard. Then one day we went to buy eggs and carried a shedless short hair puppy home. If that weren’t enough this dog lives inside like a child. As of this writing, she’s even been sleeping in our bed.
Still, our dog did not have a name.
As might be expected we are the only gringos here. In fact, many in our village had never met one face to face. Suffice it to say we have a near-constant flow of people knocking at our door. Ten-year-old Carmen, one of the firsr girls we met was the first to come knocking that day.
¿Cuál es su nombre? What is her name? She asked. “She doesn’t have a name yet,” we said. “What should we name her?” “Mariposa” she replied without hesitation.
Mariposa means butterfly.
I have yet to meet a Honduran dog named “butterfly”.
It seemed like a no brainer to me. “That’s too long,” Cathy said.
“Dog names should only be two syllables.”
Thirty minutes later a family we’d never met came to sell papayas. The daughter looked to be about Carmen’s age. She freaked out with joy when she saw our new puppy. ¿Cuál es su nombre? She asked? She doesn’t have a name yet. What should we name her? The girl paused and said,
But Cathy was still bucking the name. Go figure. That’s when I posted “Name our dog” on Facebook.
We got well over one hundred excellent suggestions. Any of them would have worked in my book. But Cathy was still racking her brain. Hosanna, Java, Esperanza, Glory, all of them sounded so good.
“Help me, honey.” She said.
On Saturday we had our usual children’s ministry.
One sweet little girl named Alicia showed up early. Cathy had gone to retrieve a new girl and I was left to introduce our new puppy myself. Alicia was enthralled. ¿Cuál es su nombre? she asked. “Nunca.” “None” I began in my characteristically horrible Spanish. “Que nombre para mi perita?” What should I name her? I asked.
“Mariposa!” Alicia blurted.
Perhaps the prophetic people out there will see a deeper message in all this. There’s certainly no lack of prophetic words these days. I think God wants us to see the sacred within the moment, to pay attention, to remain grateful amidst the current and coming chaos, and embrace the miraculous within the mundane. I am certain more will be revealed provided we don’t allow the times to change who we are. Thankfully there’s nothing quite like children and a puppy to facilitate our transformative process of growing down in Honduras.
For now, it is a simple act of obedience when I declare,
How do you determine what is true? How do you discern right from wrong?
How you answer these questions is determined by your world view. There are many. If you are Christian the Word of God should interpret your experience and frame your world view. Deception results when people interpret the Word of God via their experience and allow their experience to frame their world view. The first is objective. The latter is subjective.
Subjectivity is a growing problem in the body of Christ
Many refuse to see it.
In Mark Chapter 3 Jesus appoints the 12 disciples and gives them the power to preach, heal, and cast out demons. When the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees heard this they tried to attack Him.
Jesus was the Truth and they called Him a liar and a devil.
So He used the laws of coherence and correspondence to refute their claims. The laws of coherence and correspondence require that a truth claim makes sense and corresponds to reality within the context in which it is being stated. Violations of these laws are most easily demonstrated by the oxymorons like this famous nursery rhyme that result.
“One bright day in the middle of the night two dead boys got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords, and shot each other.”
In this case, Jesus simply points out that a house or a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand and asks,
“How can Satan cast out Satan?”
He goes on to say that
“No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.”
While people tend to focus on the unseen supernatural power involved in casting out demons, Jesus began every confrontation with the truth. E.g. Luke 4:1-13, John 8, John 17:17. Objective truth is the most often overlooked supernatural aspect of God.
The strong man is the lie that masquerades as truth.
Of course, the natural man wants to find a natural manifestation of the lie to oppose in the flesh. Social media and our city streets are proof positive of this. Yet we do not war against flesh and blood. While our battle is ultimately metaphysical against rulers and principalities of the air Eph 6:12 the more tangible context is often in the realm of belief and world view. It makes sense given that everyone’s eternal disposition is contingent on these.
That’s probably at least one reason why belief is addressed 148 times in 135 verses in the New Testament alone.
Satan has from the beginning always attacked belief on the grounds of the existence and nature of truth.
Today we are facing an outright assault on truth in the form of a calculated deconstruction of our history, identity, language, education, culture, and most importantly our faith. While people like Paul-Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida often get much of the contemporary credit, deconstruction began with Satan in Genesis 3,
“Did God really say?”
Deconstruction always attacks meaning and is ultimately about power.
Random and crazy as it often appears, deconstruction is neither of these.
On January 10, 1963, Cleon Skousen a former undercover FBI Agent, presented 45 stated American communist party goals to congress. These enumerated deconstructive goals included tearing down statues, defunding the police, and replacing them with mental health professionals who would diagnose anti-communist propensities as mental disorders. It proposed using the UN to achieve a global communist government. Getting people to accept this would be gradual and achieved by first circumventing education and dumbing down the curriculum. This would be further supported through the discrediting of parents and the institution of the family as a whole and finally teaching violent student insurrection as a legitimate method for achieving political goals.
Of course, the Christian church and our faith was and is acknowledged as the primary obstacle to achieving all the other goals.
Communist agenda #27 “Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with social religion. Discredit the Bible andemphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a religious crutch.”
This is happening!
In addition to the social and political deconstruction of the American way of life, there is a growing Christian deconstruction movement resulting in people including leaders rejecting Christ. The supporting intellectual framework is often just a cover for sin and or a worldly agenda. The most sophisticated arguments usually revolve around apparent textual inconsistencies in the Bible, as yet unproven historical claims, fake science, and false justice. “How could a loving God…? “If God is real why doesn’t He…? “Where is the proof of….?” They demand proof according to human criteria in apparent ignorance that God is sovereign, His ways are higher than our ways and that faith, not empirical proof is the foundation of lived Christianity. Luke 18:8 In the end Biblical truth is deconstructed according to the standards of man. Like Jesus, in Mark 3 God and His Church are judged as evil.
Of course, nature abhors a vacuum.
Once God is removed from the equation, those programmed by media to embrace an entitled, monetized victim mindset are more than ready to accept the State as the god who provides.
Do not be deceived. The real battle is against God regardless of the social issues in which it manifests.
Today we have growing divisions in the church. There are political divisions, racial divisions, and divisions over gender to name a few. More importantly, there are divisions regarding God’s position on these and other issues. Every conflict is ultimately rooted in Pontious Pilate’s question in John 18:38,
“What is Truth?”
If you are a Christian then Jesus is the Truth. He is also the Word. We learn what is true by studying it. 2 Tim 2:15
We bind the strongman by knowing and proclaiming it.2 Cor 10:4-5, 2 Tim 2:15, Col 2:8-10
Biblical truth always corresponds with the Word of God and remains coherent within that context or it is not Truth.
Coherent exegesis is always God-centered and objective.
Man centered exegesis is always subjective and results in perverted truth, sin, and divisions.
Hence Jesus ended the discussion with a warning.
“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”—because they said,
“He has an unclean spirit.”
In it’s simplest form, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the insistence that the Truth is a lie and a refusal to be corrected.
If we profess to be Christian but lean on our own understanding of God and His will and refuse to be corrected by the Word of God, then we risk being as guilty as the Scribes and Pharisees and subject to the same consequences.
So how do we avoid this?
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
Anytime you find yourself passionately arguing for or against a particular world view or moral issue etc. be like the Acts 17:11 Bereans and do so Biblically. That means citing scripture or at least being able to support your position with scripture if and when your position is questioned or opposed. It means demanding the same regarding all truth claims from brothers and sisters whether or not we agree with them.
“Where is that in the Bible?” Should be our default.
Sometimes this requires long-suffering and bearing with one another while Prov 27:17 sparks fly. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is happening today. People are refusing to even discuss let alone debate essential doctrines. In the case of radical subjectivists, either you agree or you get canceled. This rapidly emerging trend looks a lot like a 2 Thes 2:1-3 falling away. So be it. The Bible says that will and must happen.
One thing is certain. Truth isn’t Christian Truth unless it corresponds with scripture and remains coherent within that context.
Any other standard of truth, justice, or righteousness is at best an attempt to cast Satan out with Satan. At worst it is the manifest presence of Satan himself. Many today refuse to hear this. The organization Black Lives Matter is a perfect example. I realize that my saying this will send some people into a rage. Several have already accused me of misrepresenting Jesus. Others have accused me of white supremacy and of representing Satan myself.
I’m ok with that.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!” Mat 10:24-25
Besides, Jesus “didn’t come to bring peace but a sword.” Mat 10:34-39
In any case, BLM supporters should definitely watch this and listen to the words directly from their founders before disagreeing.
The salvation of some could very well be in the balance.
What fellowship does light have with darkness?2 Cor 6:14
Call it subjectivism, Marxism, witchcraft, progressivism, Critical theory, postmodernism, deconstruction; call it whatever you want. The Strongman is doing home and church invasions.
If we don’t bind him with Truth now, we are going to be bound and plundered later.
As missionaries, we view the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John Chapter 4 as a wisdom treasure trove and a template for ministry and missions especially within the context of racial prejudice.
As is the case with pretty much every ethnic conflict, 1st century Samaritans and Jews were diametrically opposed to each other on the basis of race and heritage. The Samaritans lived by Jacob’s well and believed they were God’s righteous people. The Jews in Jerusalem believed the exact opposite. The Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim. The Jews worshiped on Mount Moriah.
Both groups were focused on the fleshy constructs in the name of the kingdom.
Samaria was regarded by the Jews as a racial no go zone kind of like the old “wrong side of the tracks” or “skid row” in the US. In fact, Jews would walk several extra miles around Samaria when journeying between Judea and Galilee just to avoid walking through it.
John 4 says Jesus “needed to go through Samaria.”
Upon arrival, He encountered a disenfranchised adulterous woman at the community well and asked her for a drink. Community wells were a focal point for village social life among women. The same practice can be seen throughout the third world today. That the Samaritan woman was there alone in the heat of the day is an indication of just how ostracized and shame-based she must have been. Not only did Jesus violate the rule that Jews did not talk to Samaritans. But Jewish men, and especially Rabbis did not talk to women at all let alone known serial adulteresses. While both the woman and the disciples were incredulous that Jesus would even acknowledge her presence, He turned around and drank Samaritan water from a Samaritan cup. Anyone involved in third world missions will be familiar with the thoughts that run through one’s mind when handed a cup of potentially bacteria-ridden water to drink. It always comes down to a question of personal well being versus honoring your host.
Honor is the foundational key to opening doors in missions and reconciliation.
Racism, be it rooted in ideas of racial supremacy, purity, or systemic power, is anti-relational at its core in that it denies an individual or group their inherent, God-given dignity in order to dominate them. That Critical Race Theorists and Social Justice Warriors do so for the sake of achieving dominance over those whom they regard as abusively dominant still qualifies as racism. As in the case of any sin, the devil doesn’t care if one is obsessed with continuing to sin or obsessed with not doing it. He just needs sin, not God to be the main focus.
The same applies to the sin of racism.
Jesus repeatedly ignored man’s interpretations of identity, value, culture, and morality. He never debated because He knew what was in man, namely a constant vying for personal prosperity, privilege, and power. Neither did He debate the devil when he tried to tempt Him with power and privilege. That’s not just white people. That’s all people and is a result of the Fall. Sometimes he exposed and firmly rebuked those like Peter, who should have known better than to judge according to the standards of fallen man. More often He simply short-circuited false and or disingenuous arguments with parables and scripture then left people alone to wrestle with the truth before God.
The story of the Samaritan woman is poignant in regard to race and racism because Jesus modeled the correct approach. He honored her in spite of her sin and in the presence of those who normally would not have. He didn’t embark on a long diatribe about inequity or misogyny. He did not engage in a long philosophical and historic apologetic analysis of systemic issues. Neither did He ignore the woman’s sin. He called it out in a very matter of fact way and then directed her attention to Himself.
The end result was a flipped script among everyone present and the transformation of a shame-based and marginalized woman into the first recorded evangelist in the Gospel.
There are so very many lessons and prophetic implications contained within this story. The moral as it relates to racism is that racism is best countered by ignoring all its fleshy social constructs and short-circuiting it with honor in the presence of others. Healing comes with an intense focus on Truth. Jesus was clear.
True worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:24
Flesh based socially constructed racism is not possible within that context.
There istherefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.Romans 8:1
Like much of the rest of the world, COVID cases in Honduras continue to climb in accordance with increased testing. The more relevant mortality rate has remained at around 2.5 – 3.1%. Whatever the biological and clinical reality of COVID turns out to be, the economic fallout is wreaking havoc in the cities here. Thank God we are not in a city. At this time we are allowed out to buy food in the city once every 15 days. For the most part, we eat, rice, eggs, beans, and bananas.
The good news is that at the time of this writing, the uber strict nationwide lockdown has started to ease. A lot of Hondurans are convinced the whole thing is a power grab and are ignoring the lockdown anyway. Of course, that could change at any moment.
We still don’t want to catch COVID in Honduras.
Thy Will Be Done!
I’ll be honest, it has been hard at times. I really don’t like to admit that. I’ve never really experienced anxiety over God’s provision before. The havoc that has been wrought upon the global economy means money is tight for everyone and our personal support has dwindled. Lately, I’ve been wondering if God isn’t going to take us to that place that so many other missionaries like Hudson Taylor have described, of being down to their very last dollar or dime or piece of bread only to be lead by God to give it away. At the end of the day, being a missionary isn’t about being some kind of world-changing superhero as so many imagine. It’s about growing in dependence upon Him. That always involves a shaking and a breaking. There’s a lot of that going on today. Heb 12:25-28 While James 1:4 “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” is my official mission motto, I know a breaking is taking place when I sit in our river and cry and can’t for the life of me explain why. As Cathy recently wrote, this is an ongoing daily call to surrender even if it means
“living like this for the rest of my life – if it is your will, God.”
Thank God, we have each other. Even so, we miss our friends both here in Honduras and in the US, not to mention our family. Some times the enemy plays mind games and we wonder if anyone cares or if we’ll ever even see anyone again. These are the days when we lay it down even more. Other days we wrestle with the feelings of utter uselessness and futility. Cathy just presses harder into the Lord when this happens. “Where there is no vision people perish…”Proverbs 29:18 is a bigger struggle for me. The men in my family keep going until their purpose is gone. Then they die. My sympathetic nervous system responds to a lack of purpose as a life-threatening event. Of course, the struggle is not for a lack of knowledge. We both have the words we would and have given to those whom we counseled through the years. In any case, I’m sure we are not unique. So…
Cathy made her own prayer closet in the old coffee mill / guest house in our yard.
In any case, we both spend a huge amount of time in God’s word. While I’m not the least bit prophetic, I keep hearing the word “preserved”. The other day Cathy mentioned the fact that Abraham waited 25 years, Moses 40, Joseph 13, David 22, Jesus 30, and Paul waited on the Lord for 14 years. Any genuine word that one of us receives is always confirmed by the other. One thing we have learned. If you don’t know how to wait,
don’t even think about doing full time missions.
Hope In Time Ministries
We are still working to get Hope In Time off the ground. Unfortunately, Josh is still in the US and Paulet lives in another village. She’s definitely got her hands full there right now. Initially, we had envisioned getting scholarships to get kids into school, showing the Jesus film in remote villages and doing discipleship with people an families struggling with substance abuse. We thought we’d be providing solar power to families without electricity and concrete floors. We could blame it on the enemy but it is the Lord who is saying otherwise. Again, sometimes roadblocks are for our growth and protection. Proverbs 14:12
In any case, Cathy and I have built many relationships over the years. We wanted to let people know where we are at without speaking on behalf of the ministry as a whole. That’s why we are doing this update on our website rather than on Hope In Time’s. God willing Josh will back in the next month or two and the next update will be a formal Hope In Time newsletter.
If you’ve been following Hope In Time Ministries posts then you’ve seen our Hope In Time outreach videos where we delivered six thousand pounds of food to Lenca Indians.
We had to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops to pull it off but it happened. This is the same village in which we have been slowly building relationships for several years.
We still struggle with the language. But the soul to soul encounters we’ve experienced sometimes makes me think that words are overrated.
And true gratitude is often better seen than heard.
I wonder what you all see when you look in their eyes?
Of course, we had to quarantine inside our home for 15 days when we finished.
Then COVID came to Bacadia, the village where Paulet lives about three miles down the road. Normally we could walk there. But the leaders of Cerro Azul locked us in.
We didn’t really want to walk three miles to return a vacuum cleaner anyway. JK.That’s actually Cathy’s idea of a good time.
In the meantime, Cathy and I continue to look for opportunities to build relationships and share the gospel anyway we can.
As it turns out, landslides are a relationship catalyst. Especially when you own your own ax and shovel.
“Why are you helping us? We can’t pay you.” is a great conversation starter.
The village has a school but many of the children still don’t read.
Sowe started a children’s library.
Carmen (in light blue) reads a little. Valerie reads a little more. Even so, Carmen has excellent taste in literature.
Green Eggs and Ham es mi favorito!
Carmen and Valerie are a bit intimidated by Cassie and Daisy who read really well. They declined to participate when they came to the door and saw the other two girls sitting at the table. Turns out girl drama is cross-cultural. We’re working on it. In any case, we gave them a children’s bible and we hope to create questions in their minds that will lead to ongoing discipleship.
He spent some time working in the United States then returned to Honduras where he was attacked by a man with a machete during a robbery. Today He has one hand, one ear, and one eye.
This is his coffee and yucca and Malanga farm.
It’ a hard one hour walk through the mountains and rain forest just to get there. Alfonzo walks it alone every day and carries what he needs.This day he carried I tree he wanted to plant.
The locals here know a lot about natural medicines. This bark “is good for your stomach”. “Some people get drunk on it,”he said.
Alfonzo has his challenges but he never complains, he is always grateful, always joyful.
and he loves the Lord.
He’s also a former Honduran Marine which probably explains his ability to adapt and overcome.
His coffee is nearly ready to harvest.
He nets $3 for every hundred pounds of raw cherries he picks. If he’s lucky he’ll bring in $90 this year.
How much do Americans pay for a cup of coffee at the highly WOKE Starbucks?
We are researching coffee and the coffee industry in hopes of creating a coop and finding a way to get these farmers fair market value for their coffee and their labor.
That said, we are not experienced entrepreneurs.
If you or someone you know is knowledgeable in this area and would like to help or advise us we’d sure appreciate it.
In the meantime, we keep pushing deeper into the mountains above our village on foot.
and leads to some pretty amazing views
On this day we were looking for a boy named Manuel and his family. Manuel had come to our door to sell plantains one day and he invited us to his house. We finally found them. Manuel is in the rear.
This was our first visit so naturally, we wanted to honor them and didn’t take many pictures. Like so many Hondurans their house has a dirt floor and everyone sleeps in the same room. They may be cash poor but they are rich in love. Norma the mom looks like she might be pregnant but Cathy didn’t want to ask. A low protein, high carb diet often consisting of nothing but corn results in an odd combination of malnourishment and weight gain in women here. The whole family seems to be nearsighted and needs glasses. It would be great to have a small medical brigade visit here one day. Anyway, we stumbled through a conversation with our not so good Spanish, and played some worship music over which the girls were mesmerized. We prayed for the whole family and invited them to visit us. We look forward to a growing friendship.
We think this is an abandoned baby “?”
Manuel found him and was caring for it. He tried to give it to Cathy.
We spent some time with our friend Jose on the way. He’s another hard-working farmer who also spent time in the USA.
Jose works hard and is very proud of his farm. He has a fair amount of land but is only able to work seven to ten acres by himself. He grows beans, corn, and coffee. Everything is done by hand.
Jose says he likes to hunt raccoons when he has time.
There is so much to learn each time we venture out. We are constantly amazed by the ingenuity and resilience of these people. There is so much we’d like to do to help. At the same time, we have seen the damage that Western materialism has wrought in the lives of indigenous people. We want to honor them as brothers and sisters in Christ, equals in the the light of Imago Dei and not as props in a missions drama that supports our own sense of purpose and significance. They have survived and thrived here for generations.
We were with South Sudanese Refugees in the Rhino Refugee camp in Northern Uganda when our team was asked to address leaders from multiple tribes several of whom had previously fought one another in the ongoing civil war. Unity was the theme. We were all assigned a time slot in which to teach. I felt completely inept and I don’t remember anything said by our team only one South Sudanese leader, a former child soldier and “Lost Boy” who stood up at the end and proclaimed,
“There is no good tribe! There are no good people!There is only one who is good! That one is Jesus!” He went on to say, “We must forgive. We must turn the other cheek. We must love our enemy!”
After praying with a woman whose child had just died Cathy asked the man with whom she was walking. “How do you cope with all this pain?”“We have nothing…” He smiled as he continued,
“…but we have Jesus!”
These doctors, nurses, lawyers engineers, teachers, professors, and preachers in the camp never imagined they’d end up living in the dust with their children in scorching heat without food or water for days at a time. They never imagined that at least one of their children would die every day due to starvation or a lack of medical care. Now they understood the futility of human resolutions and justice. Now they were on fire for God in the spirit of 2 Chron 7:14.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I can not even describe how much we loved these people.
If there is any other place we would most like to serve as missionaries it would be there in the dust with Jesus.
I recently wrote a blog about the Fourth Turning by two historians who observed an Ecclesiastes 1:9 and Chapter 3 cycle in American history. They identified a pattern where a new era, a season, or “Turning” emerges every 20 -25 years. Four turns or seasons amount to a Saeculum or the length of a long lifetime. If you are unfamiliar with the Fourth Turning you can get the breakdown here Character.
Here are a few highlights.
“Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.”
“…The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule…”
“ …Through much of the Third Turning, we have managed to postpone the reckoning. But history warns that we can’t defer it beyond the next bend in time…”
The Reckoning is Here
We were in the beginning stages of the Corona crisis when I said I believed we are in another 4th Turn Crisis that will ultimately culminate in another 1st Turn High.
I want to scream every time I read things like the over 74 people shot one of whom was a 5-year-old in Chicago on, and immediately following Memorial Day weekend. What happened to George Floyd was dead wrong. But where is the logic? Where is BLM when scores of black people are being killed by black people in inner cities every day?!
Why do black lives only matter when a white person takes a black life?
I don’t see how we move forward without first identifying the truth regarding all the bogus agendas. Lately, I’ve been battling a temptation to make another appeal to critical thinking on social media. I wrote about cognitive dissonance in The Devil Went Down to Georgia. The problem is that the agendas of man are at the center of everything and emotion in King. Suffice it to say that given the reactions I received, things probably would not have gone well for me if I were saying all this in the street. Luckily I am safe in Honduras. How’s that for irony?
the problme is that too many refuse to see, hear, and be confronted with facts.
Either you agree and “virtue signal” your approval or you are regarded as the enemy.
I was living on my own by the age of 14. I understand the temptation to hate, to succumb to fear, and the trauma that arises out of violence. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint and beaten down by a mob. I’ve had my nose broken, jaw broken and my neck fractured. As a young adult, I lived in a neighborhood full of crack houses and nightly gunfire. My ex-wife was raped by a gang of black men and our house was burned to the ground. The difference is that I never once blamed it on the perpetrators being black. Instead, I blamed it on crack!
Besides, most people said we deserved it. After all, I was a drunk and my ex-wife was a heroin addict.
My healing came years later when I surrendered to Jesus, repented before God and forgave man.
Now I’m supposed to get on my knees and repent to man for being created white?!
Then the Lord spoke to my heart.
This is exactly what the enemy wants; everyone acting like donkeys instead of horses. When threatened, donkeys look outward to focus on an enemy and then proceed to kick each other. Horses look inward and do the opposite.
I’ll let you decide which one applies.
Like a lot of people I was getting sucked into a world over which I have no control, and of which I am not supposed to be a part.
Even so, I am human and it can hard to avoid. That’s why God gave us His Word. I don’t know about you but Cathy and I are in a season of Sola Scriptura because
sound doctrine is being sacrificed on an altar of secular humanism masquerading as love and Holy Spirit.
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.Mat 24:4-5
It seems like this fits the definition of a contemporary secular social justice warrior, more than some poor nut job claiming to be God.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”Mat 24:6-8
Ethnos is the Greek word for nation.
Ethnos means people group. It is the word from which we derive the English word ethnicity.
For Ethnos will rise against Ethnos
And there will be famines, pestilences…
Global deaths due to hunger are predicted to double this year thanks to “wars and rumors of wars“, and ongoing pestilences like Ebola, COVID, and locusts in Africa and Eurasia to name a few.
and earthquakes in various places.
According to the NOAA and the National Disaster Database there has been a 400% percent increase in yearly natural disasters since 1970.
As for the character of people; Paul nailed it again.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves,
lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” 2 Timothy 3:1-9
Furthermore, Jesus warned us to avoid the leaven of Herod which is the politicization of a spiritual issue.Mk 8:15
There is a whole lot of rebellion and Herodic leavening going on today.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”2 Tim 4:3
There is a famine of sound doctrine.
To paraphrase a comment on a recent blog that I read,
“The problem started when we stopped teaching our children right from wrong and began discussing it instead”
Today there are growing numbers of Christians who pursue Jesus but seek identity in everything but Him. There is lip service to the Word. But individual actions demonstrate an identity and faith more rooted in worldly things like psychology, the enneagram, and postmodern political solutions to spiritual problems. There is a celebration of God’s power when He heals a headache, but a deference to the world’s methods the moment God doesn’t come through as expected. There is a cherry-picking of scripture to fit an unbiblical narrative supporting a path to justice in a Postmillennial kingdom of heaven on earth. Most are sincere and not even aware that they are in error. Still, others are blinded by resentment and pride. This latter group is growing fast.
The error is rooted in an interpretation of reality according to experience instead of experiences according to the Word of God.
Jesus has become a social justice warrior within instead of the substitutionary, propitiation for sin. This movement is obsessed with worldly justice. As a result, it has become a friend of the world James 4:1-4 in unwitting opposition to the scheduled fulfillment of biblical prophecy regarding God’s redemption of man and the reestablishment of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Its priests and prophets are the likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. The media is their pulpit and smartphones their sanctuary. It is fraught with anxiety, and a false understanding of John 13:35Koinonia. This movement emphasizes fellowship with the body at the expense of Truth. It pursues consensus, comfort, and validation in lieu of conviction. It’s adherents expect to be seen, heard, and pursued. Questioning them is regarded as harsh, intolerant and unloving, sexist, or racist. While the outward compassion of this group may manifest “a form of godliness, it denies its power”. 2 Tim 3:5 The growing Deconstructionist movement and the subsequent abandonment of the faith by so many should be no surprise as self-centered, worldly expectations of a narcissistic generation become impossible for a headless body to fulfill.
Paul was clear that this must happen as well.
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first…” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
As for the current chapter in the ethnos versus ethnos conflict…
Even TD Jakes recently admitted “we are in the last days” and said “this is not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.”
He also said, “We need truth”.
We do need truth.
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” Rev 12:10
The Greek word for ACCUSER in this verse is katēgoréō. It is the word from which we get the English word
Satan literally categorizes us before our God day and night.
His minions in the media and the streets are doing the same.
Black and White are categories.
They are not identities.
Not Godly ones anyway.
If you are really a Christian then your identity is in Christ. Eph 2:4-6
The job of those in Christ is to preach the Gospel to every Ethnos and invite them in.
Judgment and the sword of justice will come with Jesus when He returns. And for the record, Isaiah 61 isn’t talking about narcissistic Christians anointed to bring forth justice on their own.
Its a prophecy about the anointing and justice of Jesus.
In the meantime…
It doesn’t matter if its the cop who killed George Floyd, George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery, or the father and son who killed him. It doesn’t matter if its an abusive black cop, white cop, Hispanic cop, Asian cop, or a BLM member shooting at cops in the streets. It could be a SJW repenting for white privilege, the thug beating up the SJW, or the Antifa methhead throwing Molotov cocktails at SJWs in a suburb. They could be looting a home or defending a store. Jesus said we will all spend eternity in hell unless we repent to God.
“Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:1-5
The desire to repent and power to forgive is a true sign and wonder that follows the preaching of the Gospel.
All our empathy, virtue signaling, inner healing, and understanding of enneagrams isn’t going to change a thing. All the repentance for being created white won’t help either. It just perpetuates a false worldly narrative. All the protesting and demands for reparations, all the secular counseling, committees, political parties, and political solutions in the world will never bring an end to racism and true social justice to fruition. That’s because secular justice is of the world and according to the flesh.
In case you didn’t know or forgot, it was the myth of Jewishprivilege that justified the Holocaust in the minds of German Nazis.
Secular justice simply tips the scales in the opposite direction.
Biblical justice is the ministry of reconciliation.
Reconciliation is not appeasement.
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”2 Cor 5:11-21
One thing is certain. God is no respecter of individual differences or the ways in which we categorize each other. His only categories are those who love Him and obey His commandments versus those who don’t. Acts 10:34-35
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 no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
As for us, we are on our knees with broken hearts. This is a season of Lamentation. We need to learn to sit in the dust and lament instead of taking to the streets in protest, to pursue the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified so that we may do our best, incompetent as we are, to disciple the Ethnos God puts in our path. Mat 28:19
Even so, the only prayer we seem to be able to pray is
Like a lot of people, we are locked down in our house in Honduras. We are allowed out one day per week to buy groceries based on the last digit on our ID card. There’s time for anyone who thinks they can buck the system.
At the time of this writing, there are over 400 cases of COVID and 32 deaths. The rate of infection was progressing geometrically at first but has since slowed and appears to be restricted to three or four municipalities.
The US State Department keeps us updated with daily “get out while you can” emails announcing what might be the last charter flight out of Honduras.
A fair number of missionaries have taken the warning seriously and returned to the USA. Meanwhile, there is a rumor circulating that the lock-down may be ending on the 20th.
Like a lot of people, we’ve tried to piece together truth regarding COVID. Unfortunately, it’s hard to engage in a discussion without people getting offended. We’ve intentionally remained centric in accordance with Acts 10:34-35, regarding political and personality cult wars. That hasn’t stopped some people from name-calling, blowing up and even blocking us on Facebook. I could be wrong but the apparent inability to think critically and engage in civil debate is our greatest risk factor as a nation. It’s only gotten worse since I last actively engaged in discussions on social media.
My most recent conclusion on COVID: it’s a lot crazier than we imagine.
Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand for me against those who practice iniquity? Psalm 94:16
Speaking of critical thinking, not every Honduran believes that COVID is real. Many believe that it is an invention of their president to get money. The result is “Tomas” which means blocking roads with burning tires and throwing rocks at police. Life is hard here. While most people in the USA live paycheck to paycheck, most Hondurans live day to day. The good news is that some Honduran police take a slightly different approach to their jobs than what you might expect.
These are interesting times. Lots of people are praying that God restores life back to normal. Lots of people forget that God’s mercy sometimes looks like judgment in the eyes of man. One thing is certain, He is in control. Proverbial monkey wrenches don’t get thrown into the gears of our goals apart from His will and Satan can’t sift us without His permission.
Speaking of Satan our friend Chad McGinnis made a good point about him on Facebook.
“The tree took it’s slow sweet time to do this, and 20 feet up and a few years later, you’re trapped. The devil will too, he will simply eat at you until you are devoured. Seek Godly truth. Subject your thoughts to Christ, don’t let fear in. Take time to find God in the smallest things.”
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15.
We’d best appreciate what have today. Tomorrow is not promised.
Right now, apart from helping an occasional passing neighbor ( his name is Feliz) with his firewood and mule, missions and ministry look like stillness and finding God in the smallest things.
Cathy is good at capturing the little things.
All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Selah Psalm 66:4
We are locked down in Honduras as I write. COVID cases have begun to double on a daily basis. The borders and airports are closed. No one can come in or go out. There’s a 6 month to 2-year jail sentence awaiting anyone who violates a curfew. Hondurans in our little community are obedient and calm. They are familiar with crises. Two older American friends in another part of the country are locked down too. He is a retired architect and has had a series of strokes. His wife is left to cope with his rapidly deteriorating condition by herself. They don’t have COVID but COVID is placing his life in jeopardy.
Meanwhile there are about two hundred North Americans, most of whom are short term missionaries stranded here. Several of them are demanding their rights and that the US State Dept does something to evacuate them. We strongly encouraged people to postpone their trips weeks before COVID first reared its head. Unfortunately confirmation bias reigned supreme. I guess their plans, ministry and mission were too important. I can empathize. I remember thinking and feeling the same way as a short-term missionary myself.
Howe and Strauss are Historians and social scientists who observed an Ecclesiastes 3 cycle in American history that shows a new era, a season or “Turning” every 20 -25 years. Four turns or seasons amount to a Saeculum or the length of a long lifetime. In simplest terms, the most recent “First Turning” 1945 -65 was the “High” and could be likened to a honeymoon period. It was marked by the end of WWII and the birth to the American dream. Families were strengthened as were social institutions like schools, local governments and church. Individual roles both inside and outside the family were clearly defined.
The “Second Turning”, 1965-85, the “Awakening”, was a period of questioning all those things. It was a time of spiritual upheaval, when the old order came under attack. It was marked by things like the birth of ERA, the Vietnam war and the subsequent student lead peace movements, the Water Gate Trial and Impeachment of Richard Nixon. Basically, every social institution was challenged.
The “Third Turning”, 1985-2005, the “Unraveling” was a time when the individual reigned supreme. Punk rock and rap glorified criminality and anti-social behavior, swinging, divorce and open homosexuality became normalized. And culminated with the HIV AIDS epidemic and the destruction of the twin towers in New York. Post Modernism grew to become the dominant world view and continued corruption and government scandals fueled an already growing distrust of nearly all established authority and institutions.
The “Fourth Turning” 2005 -25 is the “Crisis”. We are in the thick of it now.
As Straus and Howe wrote in 1996.
“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire. . .The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.”
“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort — in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”
Howe and Strauss predicted we Americans will be forced to make decisions that mirror the hardest ones made by our predecessors as
“great peril provokes a societal consensus, an ethic of personal sacrifice, and strong institutional order”. “And it will require us to admit that our faith in linear progress has often amounted to a Faustian bargain with our children. Faust always ups the ante, and every bet is double or nothing. Through much of the Third Turning, we have managed to postpone the reckoning. But history warns that we can’t defer it beyond the next bend in time.”
There is always talk of the end of days whenever a major crisis hit. I don’t claim to be a prophet and I certainly don’t know for sure. My own bias is to doubt it. Even so, my wife Cathy made a keen observation the other day. The beginning of sorrows that Jesus spoke about in Mat 24:8-13 translates to “Birth Pangs”. Birth pangs progressively increase in frequency and intensity until the water breaks and the baby is born. If this is the beginning of sorrows it will usher in the millennial reign of Christ. Fourth Turns gradually come to an end and are followed by another High.
In either case if we are to survive in a war time footing, we need to accurately discern the time. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their lack of discernment in Mathew 16:1-4.
“Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
Everything they needed to identify Jesus was already in the scriptures. The problem was that Jesus did not match their interpretation and resulting expectations and Jesus remained hidden in plain view.
A lot of us have the same problem today.
Signs, wonders and spiritual gifts are all the rage these days. Myriad charismatic leaders inspire people to follow in their footsteps. Evangelists, prophets, those with gifts of healing and an angle on prosperity abound. Those with the most dramatic, feel good performances and the biggest followings on social media become heroes of the faith even if their teachings are scripturally unsound. Jesus said,
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26 and “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Mat 24:37 Noah preached repentance and righteousness 2 Pet 2:5 then built an ark in the middle of the desert. He was mocked and rejected as a result. How much more are those who preach the same message in 2 Timothy 3 world rejected?
Cathy just read some headlines as I write.
“Vegas strip club offers drive through peep shows” in response to COVID and “Man beaten to death by mob for having Corona Virus.”
You might be on fire for Jesus. But a quick skim of the daily headlines should be all one needs to discern the times and the message that the world needs.
Discernment drives action
I’ve heard people quote and seen people post Psalm 91 so many times in the past few weeks that everyone including unbelievers should have it memorized by now. Problem is – many receive it as a magic incantation that allows them to fearlessly continue with their lives as if nothing was happening.
A cursory word study quickly reveals that dwelling in secret place of Psalm 91:1 upon which one’s protection is contingent, refers to both the secret place Jesus talked about in Mat 6:6 . It also means a literal “shelter, a hiding place.”
By the way, has anyone stopped to consider that COVID could peak during Passover?
I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
If nothing else this situation is facing us with a very real question. God or mammon?
Many young people are assuming, they are invincible and choosing to party rather than comply with recommendations, warnings and ordinances. We have young friends and relatives who seem utterly oblivious to the crisis at hand.
The keys to surviving a crisis and thriving in the subsequent high lay in how we respond. There were people who jumped to their deaths from high-rises when the market crashed in 1929. Those more prudent made fortunes. The most grievous error we can make is to fail to discern the time. We may assume a Fourth Turn crisis is the end and enter what AIM calls the “Q” (quit) zone. Or we could mistake the crisis for a First Turn high as so many spring breakers are doing now.
“Great peril provokes a societal consensus, an ethic of personal sacrifice, and strong institutional order.” That means a return to First Turn values. People have been praying for and prophesying revival for decades. Yet how soon we forget that revivals begin with radical repentance. More often than not this repentance is preceded by an event that causes people to recognize their spiritual bankruptcy. An event like like the great San Francisco earthquake that preceded the Azuza Street revival in 1915. Yes, Jesus healed and does heal people but His primary reason for coming was to be a propitiation for our sin. He came to rescue us from hell. Miracles and healing look more spectacular to our disbelieving and entertainment hungry eyes. But they are secondary to dealing with our sin. John 1:22 As Ray Comfort says, “God comes to us with a subpoena in one hand and a pardon in the other.” We love to tell people about the loving pardon while avoiding the subpoena all together.
As the current COVID crisis grows, I have yet to hear anyone under the age of 85 preach a message of repentance. There seems to be a correlation between this and the fact that those 80 and older were alive during the previous Fourth Turn. Hope for a nation that has murdered over 61,000,000 babies’ since Roe v Wade, maligned the name of Jesus as a matter of public policy and rejected His substitutionary work on the cross isn’t going to be found in Psalm 91 without embracing 2 Chron 7:14 first.
“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
My oldest surviving uncle Lester will be 90 in June. He built his own sugar house and makes his own maple syrup in Ashfield Massachusetts because he needs something to do when it’s too cold to work.
His wife Nancy is a retired biologist with a passion for conservation.
The last time I visited, Aunt Nancy had just chased a mother bear and her cubs away from her beehives on foot. At dinner Lester and I spoke about the last Fourth Turn. Uncle Lester is a retired Navy Vet. His brother fought at Normandy. He doesn’t speak a lot but when he does it behooves people to find the parable. Uncle Lester grew up poor during the Great Depression but says he didn’t know it. He never complains and talked a lot about the value and power of gratitude and community during hard times. Elders in places like Ashfield Mass still work hard and have a lot of character. They are our national treasures.
I recently saw a meme directed at chronic COVID complainers.
If our culture persists in a collective belief that our individual rights reign supreme, that we are somehow owed something and that it’s the government’s job to provide it for free at the expense of other people simply because they have more; then I can assure you that the authoritarian outcome or worse mentioned by Straus and Howe is almost certain.
Instead I found an example of the requisite attitude for success, especially for Christians during a Fourth Turn in Acts 14. During the Apostle Paul’s 1st missionary journey he and Baranabas were kicked out of Antioch. So they traveled 85 miles to preach the Gospel in Iconium. Unbelieving Jews stirred up dissension and tried to beat and stone him. So, Paul and Barnabas moved on to Lystra and Derbe where taught and people were healed. Everyone thought they were Zeus and Hermes and started to worship them. No sooner had they put an end to that craziness then the previous Jews who had followed them from Iconium showed up. This time they were successful in stoning Paul. They dragged what they thought was his dead body outside the city gate and left him there. The disciples gathered around him probably in mourning. But before they could do anything Paul jumped up brushed himself off and went back into the city where;
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22
This May we will have lived in Honduras for three years. We’ve been through our share of crises and we stocked up on beans and rice a few weeks ago in anticipation of what is happening now. The other day we gave some away to a neighbor in need. I’ve been racking my brain as to how we are going to feed people when the food runs out. What will we do if someone gets sick? How will we care for people? Last night some girls from the tiny Catholic church down the road delivered dinner to our door. Being a full-time missionary is teaching me just how unimportant I am.
I don’t know what is happening or is going to happen. If you read my previous blogs, my conclusions regarding COVID remain the same.
Believe what we want “We still don’t know jack.”
What I do know from both God’s Word and my own experienceis that
Jesus did not come to give us our best life now. He came to redeem and transform us.
Everything will be shaken. Only what can’t be shaken will remain. Heb 12:26-28
Who we are and what we do “will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” Only that which is of God will survive. 1Cor 3:12-15
While our eternal hope is definitely in Jesus. Our ability to remain in that hope will be determined by our individual and collective character. Character is produced by perseverance. Tribulation is its catalyst. Rom 5:3-7
Please keep us in prayer. Apart from divine intervention we are in big trouble if COVID gets a hold of us.
If you are receiving this it’s because we love you.