The Devil Went Down to Georgia…

“…he was lookin’ for a soul to steal. He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind and he was lookin to make a deal…”

-Charlie Daniels-

As if COVID weren’t enough of a problem two men in Georgia decided to initiate another wave in another ongoing pandemic. A video taken by their friend shows them chasing down Ahmaud Arbery an innocent black jogger whom they alleged was a burglary suspect and executing him in the street.

The fact that he was a black man shot by white men in Georgia leads many to the conclusion that he was killed because he was black. 

I know what you are thinking. He’s fighting the guy with the gun. But let’s be honest. There are only three options when you believe you are about to die; fight, flee, or freeze. In most cases, that decision is made according to instinct rather than intention.

In any case this doesn’t help the shooter’s “we thought he was a burglar” alibi.

Meanwhile anti-racist white people are demanding justice.

One person illustrated the parallel between white men in Michigan protesting an alleged violation of their Constitutional Rights, with the fact that black people do not enjoy those same rights.

“This violence is a singular privilege afforded to Caucasian men in America. People of color aren’t afforded this luxury. They can’t even get close to such ugliness. Heck, they barely get to breathe… ” they wrote.

One selfless Christian replied,

“I don’t even care what the 2nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution says. I’ll forfeit all American rights in order to reject the right to bear arms, not just for the sake of my black brothers and sisters but for the sake of my citizenship in the kingdom of God.”

He has a point. After all Jesus did say “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

And strict gun control has been effective in the past.

As might be expected the media is providing back to back coverage of the one and only shooting that took place on that day.

2019 Stats were not available at the time of this writing. However the ongoing white on black genocide in the USA is clearly evidenced by the 2018 FBI UCR Crime Stats.

Murder Offenders:  54.9 percent were Black or African American, 42.4 percent were White

Murder Victims: 53.3 percent were Black or African American, 43.8 percent were White

Wait a minute. I’m confused.

Yeah that would be the same cognitive dissonance I wrote about in my previous blog.

For the record, “White” and “Black” are not people. They are adjectives that describe a noun. There are other adjectives that describe nouns like “shooter” such as stupid, ignorant, hateful, and dumb.

In addition, there is only one race – the human race.

In terms of skin color, white and black describe a range of 36 hues.

I’m not sure where, culturally speaking, “white” ends and “black” begins.

In any case, please do not refer to me as a “white man”.

I am a #14 man.

But seriously, we can debate the characters, motivations, and agendas of those involved ad Infinitum and accomplish nothing except maybe generate more outrage and offense. Yet one thing is certain. There is an enemy who is always on the prowl seeking to devour, divide, and provoke those with a heart to steal, kill, and destroy. They come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and hues from one to thirty-six.

As Christians, we need to remember that the devil and his minions are obsessed with individual differences that provide them with leverage to divide. But our God,

“is no respecter of persons: But in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”Acts 10:34-35

Hence Peter’s admonition that we remain “of sober mind”. Drama driven emotion is the antithesis of a sober mind and always points to back to flesh and blood.

We also need to keep the nature of the battle at the forefront of our minds. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood…”

It is the same battle that began in Gen 3 with “did God really say…?” and continued with

“For God knows that when you eat of it (The forbidden fruit) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

You know the story. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened and their focus shifted from God to themselves.

You might need to re-read this and chew on it for awhile. But here is the breakdown.

In the garden mankind only knew God. He understood his origin and identity in God. The knowledge of good and evil separated him from God such that he lost the ability to comprehend himself in the context of his originally created state. Instead of existing in God, he now stood in direct opposition to God.

The end result was that man began to see himself as an origin of good and evil, a little god with the power to interpret himself and others according to that knowledge. As righteous as some worldly reactions might feel they are nevertheless always in opposition to God. Hence the frequently misinterpreted words of Isaiah, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” I say “misinterpreted” because the fallen man often wrestles with this verse. As a result of his self-centeredness, he interprets it as an attack on the idol of self-esteem otherwise known as “his identity”. Yet it is only a reiteration of the truth that the almighty “I” and “Me” are the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Anything that comes from that tree is a filthy rag.

How quickly we forget this includes our most righteous judgments.

But wait there’s more…

In Gen 4 we have the story of the first branch of the knowledge of good and evil, and the first death. “Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” We don’t know what was said in the exchange. However, every killer feels justified in killing or they wouldn’t do it. Anyway, God curses Cain and makes him “a fugitive and a vagabond”. Of course, the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil always thinks of itself first, and Cain protested “anyone who finds me will kill me.” I don’t know about you but the knowledge of good and evil in me exclaims “Good!” But then God replies,

“whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.”

THAT’S NOT RIGHT!! HE SHOULD BE PUNISHED!!

A lot of people are screaming at Cain now.

There is so much more depth to this story. But suffice it to say that Cain built the first city and pretty much everything related to contemporary society, culture, and technology, a.k.a. “the world” has its roots in Cain and his progeny.

When all is said and done, what the world calls progress is really just a dark positive feedback loop that expands as it repeats.

Then Lamech (Cain’s great – great grandson) said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech!
For I have killed a man for wounding me,
Even a young man for hurting me.
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,
Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
Gen 4:23-24

You will note that Lamech’s declaration is a perverted expansion of God’s original one concerning Cain. This is the essence of self-righteousness. This is the essence of the world.

Jesus was clear that we know a tree by its fruit. He also explains the final outcome of a bad tree. It is important to understand that evil isn’t evil because it strives to produce bad fruit. Evil is wrong because evil thinks it is justified, righteous, and good.

So what; we just sit back and do nothing?

No, actually the Bible clearly explains how this problem was rectified.

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesusthat in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:1-10

This is such an important passage that every Christian needs to internalize.

Satan is the god of this world. As Christians, we need to be aware of his wiles. Not so we can prosecute others but so we can discern the times in order to provoke and minister to others. Let’s face it. Bad things happen and will continue to happen. The good news is that gospel thrives in catastrophe and persecution, more than it does in prosperity. We shouldn’t be surprised or thrown off balance when the world acts like the world or when the devil does what he has done from the beginning. Denial and freak out are opposite extremes of a missed opportunity to preach the gospel. The trap is not in our discerning the times. Discernment is a mandate. Rather we become trapped when our discernment turns to emotion and we succumb to the knowledge of good and evil and the temptation to place our faith in things like earthly justice and political solutions.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 1:19-20-

The world will continue to pour out its wrath and blessing upon whom it will. As Christians, we are called to a higher place in that we have been restored to our original standing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Does that mean that we stand by and do nothing? Of course not! “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. What happened in Georgia and what happens every day in cities across America is an utter travesty! The unbroken generational curses and resulting trauma resulting from the sins of our predecessors are real and being capitalized on by the father of lies every minute of every day.

That said, the issue is not as much what we do as it is the place from which we do it.

Either it comes from heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Or it comes from within the knowledge of good and evil. There is no middle ground here. “In Christ Jesus” begins on our knees. “Within the knowledge of good and evil” begins with self-righteous fists shaking at injustice. We need to be both wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Not one or the other. We must be able to identify evil in accordance with Eph 5:11. Yet there is a fine line between the identification OF evil and becoming identified WITH evil. The latter happens any time we succumb to emotion and react in accordance with the knowledge of good and evil.

Think about that.

Can you discern evil without being consumed by it?

It is always a matter of where you choose to abide.

In the end, we abide in the Vine or we stand convicted with the world in the knowledge of good and evil.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17

He came for everyone.

I hope for your sake that your heart breaks for all three.

If not, I’m afraid the devil just may have gotten that “soul he came lookin to steal”.

      Africa Bound

Well it’s been a long time coming but it should come as no surprise to those who know us well that we are giving all to become full time missionaries.  

Granted we’ve been short term missionaries in Honduras since 2008, however this different. 

We have also run a faith based transitional home and lived with furloughed inmates since 2005 which probably seems crazy enough to most, however we’ve always had financial security, and a place to lay our heads in a paradise that most people only dream of visiting.  In a word we have lived the proverbial American dream.  

Giving everything up now in hopes of serving the poorest of the poor in the most impoverished and worn torn corners of the world might sound like foolishness to some.  However this has been our dream since before we were married.  In fact we have both known since we were children that we were made for this day.

As Christians we are called to live and walk by faith.  There’s really nothing in the bible that even hints that we should play it safe.  In fact Jesus gave us the formula for success.  Those who will lose their lives for His sake will gain true life. And so we are going.  We are going with a goal of loving the lost and unloved in hopes of one day becoming love ourselves.  This is our theory.  This our plan.  To be perfectly honest we don’t really know what that looks like or even means at this point.  We are simply stepping out with child like faith, knowing only that we know nothing especially in terms of what lies ahead.  We are only certain that God has called us to a deeper place, a place of knowing Him more, a place of acquaintance with His sorrows and with those sorrows, an unspeakable joy that we know will be our inheritance if we remain obedient to His call. 

We will be departing Kauai to attend the IRIS Global Harvest School of Missions in Pemba Mozambique on Oct 4th.  This is a turning point and not just an event.  God willing we will eventually be in places like South Sudan, Honduras and wherever the Lord calls us from here on out. 

Follow us here if you’d like periodic updates as we journey deeper into the heart of God and endeavor to love Him by loving His children here on earth.