I Owe Everyone An Apology

Not the contemporary “I’m sorry for hurting your feelings or offending you” apology. But a biblical Apologia a biblically reasoned defense, for any truth claim I make. Paul was faithful to this standard throughout the course of his ministry. Acts 22:1, Acts 21:28, Acts 25:16, 1 Cor 9:3, 2 Cor 7:11, Phil 1:7, Phil 1:17,  2 Tim 4:16, 1 Pet 3:15.

Today the gospel and the very definition of truth are under attack within society and the church.

Most people don’t even know it.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.   2 Cor 10:4-5

There is a false gospel among us hiding under a veil of empathy and compassion.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.2 Cor 11:3-4

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” Gal 1

Paul was constantly addressing heresy throughout the course of his ministry. For example, he rebuked the Galatians because as a result of ‘some that troubled them‘, the gospel of Christ was being perverted. He makes it clear that it doesn’t matter who does it, be it a person or an angel from heaven; preaching a false gospel will result in a curse.

David Wilkerson addressed the root of this in his sermon “The Gospel of Accommodation”

“Accommodate means to adapt, to make suitable and acceptable, to make convenient, to adjust to the desires of others to placate, to appease and attract sinners.”

There are well-meaning people twisting the gospel because they allow truth to be determined according to “lived experiences” instead of interpreting lived experiences according to the gospel. Today we are witnessing a perversion of the Gospel in the name of Social Sustice.

“Social Justice” is another term for Neo Marxism.

Blessed is he who understands the hidden causes of things.

-Virgil-

According to Marxist theory, the proletariat or working class is unfairly dominated or oppressed by the power-wielding bourgeoisie or the wealthy capitalist class. Marx saw these divisions as solely economic.  He assumed that the alleged economic repression of the working class would naturally result in their eventual revolt against the capitalist class. He did not take into account that while the rich get richer within capitalism, the poor get richer too. Long story short those adhering to Marxist philosophy realized they needed a different strategy for tearing down the status quo in order to usher in a Marxist utopia. The 1930s saw the advent of “critical theory” developed by a group of sociologists and philosophers known as the Frankfurt School.

Instead of working-class versus capitalist class, contemporary critical theory a.k.a. Critical Race Theory states that society is divided into oppressor versus oppressed groups along lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.  Sexism, racism, classism, ageism, heterosexism… are the main forms of oppression. While oppression was traditionally defined along the lines of cruelty, neglect, and violence, etc. Critical Race theory focuses on ways in which the dominant social group, namely older white Christian males, imposes its values and standards, on others for the sake of its own interests. Injustice results from everyday practices of society at large via its normalized language, habits, cultural traditions, and symbols.

Hence the underlying thought process that validates the recent destruction of monuments and statues to include Francis Scott Key and Ulysees S Grant across the United States.

Concepts like objective truth especially objective moral truth which is foundational to Biblical truth, are viewed as Western ways of thinking created and maintained by older white Christian men to preserve their “white privilege”.  Critical Race Theory assumes that people never seek truth for truth’s sake.  Instead, every social interaction amounts to a vying for power. If someone asserts a truth claim the first question is not “is this claim true?” and “are there data and facts that support this argument.” but rather “what incentive does this person have in making this claim?” Hence the abject futility of confronting a committed Critical Race Theorist / Social Justice Warrior with data and facts. Their response will invariably be along the lines of

I FEEL like you are saying, think, mean…. etc.”

While you are trying to identify the truth. Their entire world view is rooted in POWER.

Critical Race Theory has so many layers, terms, and concepts like Interest Convergence, Positional Epistemology, Standpoint Epistemology, Grievance Justice, Research Justice, Deconstruction, Intersectionality, and the most recent Cancel Culture movement.

As Christians, we should familiarize ourselves with these things because thanks to postmodern theory, reality itself is now viewed as being completely subjective such that we can’t even assume that we are speaking the same language.

As missionaries, we understand the three primary cultural paradigms

Now we have a fourth that seeks to twist all three, namely “Privileged and Oppressed” forming right under our noses. As Stuart Greaves, the leader of IHOP’s Twenty Four Hour prayer room and author of False Justice said, this generation of Social Justice warriors are being prepared to usher in the antichrist.

In his sermon, A Bride Adorned for the Bridegroom Art Katz said that Christians are supposed to be the stewards of words and language.

Language is being hijacked

For example, while equity in society traditionally refers to equity of treatment particularly in regard to “opportunity” where individual outcomes are primarily determined by competence. Critical race theory is focused on the equity of outcomes. Competence models are viewed as being rooted in privilege and are therefore a form of oppression.

Suppose an average white male from a middle-class family whose nonminority status precludes him from certain types of financial aid works three part-time jobs, sleeps an hour a day, and eats Ramen noodles for eight years while putting himself through medical school. We used to call people like this inspiring role models. According to modern Critical Race Theorists, he only succeeded as a result of his inherent white privilege. Therefore he needs to do his anti-racism work, atone for his privilege, and become an ally committed to equity. What this amounts to is the monetization of a “victim status” and the obliteration of resilience.

That is Marxism.

Any committed Critical Race Theorist who tells you otherwise is deceived or they are lying.

Of course, being that there is no objective truth or objective moral law this statement will only confirm your guilt.

I could go on unraveling the subtly twisted, constantly morphing nuances of critical race theory. It’s a never-ending, journey down a rabbit hole to what looks to me like hell. If you want to read more on the history of Critical race theory I recommend starting with the Derrick Bell Reader. That said, rather than subject you to another 1500 words in an attempt to narrow it all down, I made a two and half minute animated summary of the most relevant epistemological concerns for the church.

A disclaimer

Trauma is real. It happens to individuals. It is healed in the context of individual relationships, counseling, therapy, and ultimately by God. As a former counselor, I am definitely supportive of helping individuals heal. I do not deny that racism is real. It is a sin for which repentance is required. The fact remains that the contemporary Critical Race Theory of Derrick Bell was birthed out of very real trauma stemming from the horrendous and unjust history of American slavery along with the absolutely valid concerns regarding racial injustice and systemic inequality for people of color and women during the late 1950s into the 1970s. Many of Bell’s concerns were valid especially at the time when he was a black professor of law at Harvard. He even made a decent case for slavery reparations based on the fact that the descendants of slaves were robbed of the inheritance they might have received had slaves been paid for their labor.

This is blog is not about pointing fingers at people or groups. It‘s about epistemology.

The problem for the Church today begins with modern Critical Race Theory’s approach and doctrinal emphasis on the collective rather than the individual. It focuses on deconstruction rather than construction. Instead of solving problems by improving the existing system, it seeks to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater by canceling culture, reinterpreting scripture, and eliminating the status quo a.k.a “the patriarchy”. Unfortunately for them, Christianity is patriarchy. Its author and ruler is our Father in Heaven. The biblically aligned marriage and its patriarchal structure is a model for Christ’s relationship with His church. While Critical Race Theory ignores the fact that the chronic absence of fathers in inner-city homes is at the root of problems like gangs and black on black murder. The solution is not the abolition of the patriarchy but for men to fulfill their God-given calling and authority in the family and society at large.

I know that probably ticks some people off.

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. Col 2:8

The gospel rooted in Critical Race Theory otherwise known as the social justice gospel is a false gospel.

It is as subtle as it is pervasive in that it rarely overtly opposes the true gospel on scriptural and, epistemological grounds. Instead, it relies on appeals to emotion.

Please try and suspend your emotions and think logically as you read this next part.

The recent death of George Floyd at the hands of the police is a good example. The method of restraint was clearly unjust, and Floyd did not deserve to die. The actions of the White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic officers now charged with murder may have been driven by race. But at the time of this writing, it has yet to be proven in a court of law. Given that they didn’t flinch at being filmed by multiple people they obviously believed they were acting within their rights and scope of authority. As it turns out Floyd may have had multiple illegal drugs in his system and it has not been confirmed in a court of law that his death was caused by the officer rather than a drug-induced heart attack. This is why we have the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution.

However, the officers have already been tried and convicted in the media and court of public opinion. The sentence is being carried out on police and property across the nation. Meanwhile, much of the church has enshrined Floyd as a role model for youth and memorialized him with the likes of Martin Luther King as a godly Christian man martyred at the hands of systemic racism and white privilege.

Yeah, I know. “Judge not lest ye be judged”. For the record, I’m not saying Floyd was beyond repentance or that he is in hell. That would be judgment. My concern is that while false Social Gospel warriors quote MLK “that a riot is the language of the unheard” they ignore his insistence that people be “judged according to the content of their character” rather than the color of their skin.

In this case the exact opposite is being played out.

The content of George Floyd’s character is being ignored because of the color of his skin.

Meanwhile, gutless accommodating purveyors of a false gospel are taking a knee before the image of Floyd and repenting for their white privilege while supporting a narrative based on a lie that black people are being genocidally murdered by police every day. They are not. Last year 48 police officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty as compared with 9 unarmed blacks and 20 unarmed whites who were shot and killed by police. The true gospel says truth matters.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. Eph 5:6

The first indication that you are dealing with an accomodating false gospel is a leader who caters to people’s feelings and accommodates falshood.

Jesus was clear.

The knowledge of the truth is what sets us free. John 8:32

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Rom 3:10-18

Another common indication is the overwhelming emphasis on the word “justice”. While racism is sin and justice is certainly part of God’s plan, the false Justice Gospel emphasizes justice within the context of society and society’s standards while excluding personal righteousness before God. Their idea of righteousness is synonymized with justice brought about by the will of man.

That is Critical Race Theory

Biblical righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we walk in because we are grafted in John 15:5 and are then granted supernatural power to be obedient to His word. Rom 8:1-5

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face. Psalm 89:14

Righteousness precedes justice. There is no justice apart from righteousness. This is where we see Critical Race Theory seeping into the church in the form of misinterpreted and misapplied grace. The overwhelming focus is on perceived, often factually invalid, injustice toward what the new religion of Intersectionality identifies as oppressed groups. Calling so-called oppressed people to repent or face eternity in hell is viewed as legalistic, insensitive “and probably some form of ‘ist’ or “istic” when “grace” is what is required.

Meanwhile, the definition of grace has shifted to align with the world’s definition. While the true gospel understands grace to mean the undeserved gift made available to us as a result of Jesus’s propitiation for the sin of all mankind on the cross, grace within the social justice movement means tolerance for or even the condoning of sin. The Bible is clear regarding those who do not repent.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19 -21

Another subtle indicator is the politicization of Jesus is rooted in the belief that Jesus was unjustly crucified. They say Jesus conquered IN SPITE of the cross as they correlate His suffering with some Intersectional oppressed group today. In truth, He was born to die on the cross as a final sacrifice in fulfillment of prophecy and the law. Jesus conquered THROUGH the cross as a result of His submission to it. We often wonder how today’s Christian SJWs would have reacted had they been present when Jesus was crucified. Today we have allegedly spirit-filled Christians in the streets acting as the hands and feet of Jesus while preaching “a new gospel narrative”. In reality, they are deceived by Leaven of Herod which is a political spirit Mk 8:15.

The false social justice gospel always looks to worldly solutions in the name of Jesus as they politize His name. All one needs to do is read publications like “Sojourners”, Jim Wallaces Progressive Christianity magazine, to see that progressive Christianity is a political monster financed and driven by organizations like the Open Societies Foundations.

But that’s a subject for another time.

The bible says Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sinHeb 4:15 I can only imagine the thoughts and temptations that Jesus wrestled with before God in the Garden of Gethsemane while sweating His own blood and begging His Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him.  After all, He could have fulfilled the hopes of the apostles and conquered the Roman Empire, with a single word. Yet he was submissive and obedient unto death. Isaiah 53:10 He is our example in the midst of oppression and injustice.

If I am correct and we have entered into the beginning of sorrows Mat 24:8 then the next step in the process is that we are to be delivered up to be killed. Of course, I don’t have a timeline. My point is that it will most certainly represent a clear violation of our constitutional rights. The Social Justice gospel has us demanding and perhaps fighting for global worldly justice. The true gospel has us preaching repentance, the coming Kingdom, and being led like lambs to slaughter for doing so.

Jesus was a Refugee

False justice gospel exegesis is forever correlating Jesus with refugees, “Jesus was a refugee” they say because Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt. Mat 2 or that He had no place to lay His head. Luke 9:58 But Mat 2 is the story of God’s supernatural intervention and preservation of Jesus, not His victimhood and His intersection with an oppressed class. Jesus’s reference to Daniel 7 in Luke 9:58 was a proclaimtion of His deity, humility and rejection of worldly methods and comforts.

Jesus was a man of color

The false justice gospel is forever obsessed with Jesus’s ethnicity. “Jesus was a man of color”, or “Jesus was a black man!” they say as they compare and correlate Him with the racial conflicts of today. While we might surmise that Jesus was olive-skinned based on His Palestinian geographical origins, the Bible says very little about what He looked like.

He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Isaiah 53:2-3

Jesus was the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14 He didn’t intersect with an oppressed class. He was God who intersected with all of mankind who stand equally guilty of oppressing Him through the voluntary rejection of Himself and His law. That’s a hard pill for some to swallow.

There is no wisdom or understanding Or counsel against the LORD. Pro 21:30 

Social Justice is obsessed with “isms” and “ists”

When you see one, beware! For example, the false justice gospel calls Jesus a feminist because He honored women. Of course, He did. They bear his image. But Jesus came for all of mankind. As I explained in the above video, Intersectionality is the offspring of radical feminist ideology that seeks dominance and power rather than equality with their fellow image-bearers Gen 1:26. Image bearers who stand equally guilty as God’s enemies until they turn to Him, repent and live according to His word. Rom 5:10.

The false social justice gospel is the “yeah but” gospel. “Yeah I know what scripture says but…” These people are often on fire with regard to things like healing, prosperity, and prophetic words. But trusting God with their lives and especially their families by remaining obedient to His word amidst the possibility of persecution and death is an entirely different thing. The true gospel is clear,

“all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Tim 3:12

The false gospel places personal opinion and revelation above the word of God. It says I am made in the image of God, I am filled with His spirit, his laws are written on my heart. I hear His voice. If what I hear and think appears to conflict with His word it’s only because you don’t see and hear and therefore do not understand as I do. My lived experience as a black, brown, female, ist, ism …child of God informs my righteousness. What I feel is right; is right. What I feel is wrong; is wrong. It is my job as a Christian to make the wrongs I see right.

That is Critical Race Theory.

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Prov 16:25

The Bible says “…lean not on your own understanding In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes.”
Prov 3:5-7

Wise in our own eyes results in a “yeah but” gospel that embraces almost everything except obedience.

Obedience comes with a cost. Romans 13 is an example.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”

Yeah but…

Yeah but what? There are avenues to petition the courts and government. There are ways to effect changes in-laws. There are laws that already address certain issues that are not enforced. We elected a black president twice. Killing police, looting and burning businesses are inexcusable. Sympathizing with the criminals who do it while supporting a false persecution narrative based on an intentional and culturally programmed belief in oppression while ignoring the sin that has them on a fast track to hell is neither loving nor Biblical. The false gospel says it is the church’s job to comfort and appease people even if they are lying to themselves and others. The true gospel says they need to repent and that it is the church’s job to call it out. Is that an unpopular message? You’d better believe it is. It got Jesus killed. The bible says it is going to kill a lot of us who remain faithful.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Rev 12:11

The Social Justice gospel only points the finger and is devoid of gratitude.

Two of our friends in Cabo Delgado Mozambique where we previously served have been crying out to us for prayer because people are being tortured and murdered by Muslim extremists. One of thier friends was just killed in the fighting. Forgive us if we feel a bit angry at what is clearly a twisted and manipulative bid for power masquerading as caring for Black Lives.

Our friend Sam

The fact is that no SJW ever acknowledges the blessings of being born in America. They are entitled brats masquerading as victims. But not to worry. Jesus declared a principle that mainly applies to knowledge of the Kingdom. But I think it applies to other principles as well.

Principles like, gratitude.

“For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Mat 13:12

Grateful people usually end up with more to be grateful for. Those without gratitude usually lose what they have.

I get the sense that a lot of entitled people are about to lose what they didn’t realize they had.

The false gospel is consumed with the here and now. Its adherents are consumed with free economic benefits and politics. It always demands immediate justice. But rarely calls its adherents to immediate repentance before God for their own sins. Rather it points the finger outward and demands eternal penance from others for their privilege. The Bible says

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Col 3:1-4

False gospel messages may allude to biblical principles and cite misinterpreted scriptures but the exegesis itself does not refer to, nor is it supported by actual scripture. Instead, it relies on personal experience, personal revelation, politics, and Appeals to Emotion. The true gospel insists on an Acts 17:11 verification of truth according to scripture because

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

These are just a few of the subtle roots and signs that you are dealing with a false gospel. There many others. In fact, more are being generated every day. That said the most profound and overt indication that you have come face to face with a false Gospel is a movement that is growing by leaps and bounds. It is a movement that calls itself

The WOKE Church.

While there is an attempted Eph 5:14 true gospel rebuttal underway on the part of people like Erich Mason and Voddie Baucham, “Woke” is a term straight out of Critical Race Theory. A Woke Christian is a person who identifies and owns the inherent sin of racism within themselves and their church and is willing to do their life long “anti-racism work” in the name of diversity. On the surface, it sounds almost reasonable and embracing of Psalms 139:23-24,

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

However, it’s purpose is to appeal to the inner shame of the Carnal man regarding God’s blessings that SJWs claim are the sole result of one’s privilege. The true gospel says that one of God’s purposes in blessing us is that our thanksgiving (should) abound to the glory of God. 2 Cor 4:14-15 Gratitude to God for His blessings is a form of worship. But the social Justice gospel demands we atone for God’s blessings.

This cultist indoctrination that is pervading academia, the workplace and now the church, glues people and their identities to a victim group instead of “in Christ” Eph 2:6. It is a satanic Rev 12:10 katēgoréō (categorization) that manipulates people into feeling guilty for things they never did. It is a method for corraling and controlling people in the name of Godly justice.

It is neither Godly nor just. It is a lie from the pit of Hell cloaked in pseudo loving charismania.

Its extreme end game looks like this this.

Now more than ever we must “study to shew (ourselves) approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15

Of course, Psalm 139 always applies. If you are a racist than you darn well better repent. That said, my inner man keeps saying “objection your honor!” each time I am accused of white privilege etc. Then I realized I should be yelling “PROJECTION!” We Bible-believing Christians need to employ a favorite apologetic tactic known as “apply the claim to itself”.

If you encounter a person primed and ready to accuse you of some unwarranted “ist” or “ism” simply tell them,

“Own your own ism.”

You have no knowledge or authority when it comes to my “lived experience.”

Please accept my apology.

God bless.

Brian

Character

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. 

As Seth Barnes founder of Adventures and Missions, (AIM) an organization with whom we serve as World Race GAP Year Coaches, said in his blog Courage and Prudence

“We are now in a wartime footing in most of the country. Most of us have no idea how to live life there. The things that worked before no longer work. COVID-19 is changing everything.”

Several months ago, I gave a teaching based on the book

The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy-What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny. By William Straus and Neil Howe. I had no idea at the time how prophetic it was.

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.

Spring Break 2020

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.

Good things come out of crisis. Rom 8:28

“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 experience is 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.

En El Nombre De Jesus!