Peeling the Onion and Learning to Abide

Still Growing Down in Honduras

The name “Gray Hope Missionaries” has occasionally caused a few eyebrows to rise.  “What does that even mean?” they ask with a familiar reticence in their voice. I’ll admit it does sound a bit self-centered. I originally coined the title with the idea of it being a conversation starter. That’s manipulation code for initiating an evangelistic or “support us” sales pitch.

We all know God’s will requires funding.

Amirite?

Gray is the color between black and white, light and dark. It’s how I imagine hope. It’s also a Scotch Irish name that literally means hope. According to Google, the family crest which may or may not be my family crest, is an anchor.

That we live in the gray is another way of saying we see as in a glass darkly.

We need as much hope as we can get.

If you ask a missionary what life on the mission field is like you will often get an oral or written narrative along the lines of our most recent Hope In Time Newsletter, the ministry with whom we currently serve. Yes, we really do what we say. That’s not the point.  Increasingly, we find ourselves cringing at what inevitably ends up looking like horn-tooting, self-promotion. It’s a Catch 22.  We can’t be accountable to supporters without pictures of us doing what we say we do. But then it’s hard to direct the reader’s attention to God while staring at our mugs amidst a story about some tin we just nailed.  

I’ve come to almost despise the drudgery of self-promotion if only because it’s not biblical. Mat 6:1-4  When I think back to the marketing videos I regularly produced until two years ago I am embarrassed that I cultivated so much narcissism and self-aggrandizement. Yet narcissism and embellishment are just good business these days. They are expected and even praised in our consumer culture. That this is accompanied by a corresponding subconscious distrust of anyone asking for money seems rather ironic. That we associate meekness and humility with failure, and grandiosity with success, may offer some insight into why our culture has so little wisdom and discernment and continues to select psychopaths as leaders.  

But I digress.

In my experience, being a missionary has been more about coming to terms with things that people preoccupied with the first world rat race never have time or perhaps the desire to think about. 

I liken it to peeling an onion.

We began with peeling away our previous assumptions about ourselves, missions work, God, His Word and the world, as well all the ethical dilemmas that result from pride-ridden dreams of being a “world changer”.

This is counterintuitive as we are taught that success is contingent upon one’s ability to portray it.

Next came a season of preaching one thing and doing another. In my case that looked like talking about abiding while franticly striving to live up to prophetic words about my being a “world changer”.

Turns out telling people they are “world changers” is also a marketing strategy.

This recurring motif frequently ends in missionary burnout. Either we learn that,

“His strength is made perfect in weakness. We would rather boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us.  For when we are weak, then we are strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 

or we quit. 

This may seem simplistic to those whose careers and prosperity are the fruit of their dependency on God. But try it after slaying prosperity on the altar. This is where we encounter our inner Judas.

Mary, therefore, took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” John 12:3-6

The temptation to do everything apart from the literal commands of Jesus can be strong. There’s always an excuse. I have learned that given a severe enough tragedy or perceived inequity, and there always is, darn near any worldly strategy can be justified in support of financing God’s will.

Yet Jesus assured us there will be no human solution to the world’s suffering and problems. That includes poverty, climate change, and injustice to name a few. The Christian walk is not about world-changing effort and success let alone how God uses the almighty “us” to do it. It’s about being broken as we learn we can not. Only brokenness teaches us to be utterly dependent upon Jesus. That is the kingdom definition of success.

It begins with accepting the abject silliness of our self-imagined significance. John 15:1-17

You can do nothing” is not hyperbole. “Nothing” means “nothing”. Hence, I’m thinking a better word for “missionary” might be

“Abidinary” – one who abides in the vine.

In our case, becoming an “abidinary” has meant dwelling both literally and prophetically in the wilderness. This has been especially true since moving into the mountains when the entire world was locked down. Our driver’s licenses expired and we don’t have a car.  Every time we are tempted to think it is coming to an end, another mutation and mutant worldly narrative kicks in. We are stunned and amazed at what the world has become and is becoming. It seems that everything we knew could happen – but probably wouldn’t – is happening. Maybe you can relate. Each time we learn that normal isn’t coming back the Lord brings us back into the Book of Exodus. We shed another onion layer as we look into the type and shadow of our own impatience, impertinence, and ingratitude.  Sometimes we are at the Springs of Marah in Exodus 15 grumbling that the living water is not sweetened to our taste.  Other times we are in Exodus 32 carving a golden calf 2.0.  Our calf isn’t made of gold but steak dinners and dreams of RV living while touring the US.

Meanwhile, God keeps placing us at the proverbial entrance to the Leviticus 8:35 tent.

For the record, I am not claiming to be a Levitical Priest.

Rather there is just so much history and depth in the original Tabernacle and Priesthood. Leviticus 8 is about the consecration and ordination of the priests. Many believers discount the Old Testament, especially Leviticus. “That was the old covenant,” they say. “Only the new one applies today.”  And let’s be honest. Detailed descriptions of donning one hundred pounds of priestly garb before tying a bull to the altar, slaughtering it in the heat, and spreading the blood and guts around can be boring and well…gross. 

Still, everything points directly to Jesus and lends greater depth to our understanding of Him and our relationship with Him. 

The bull was first and foremost symbolic of the priest tying himself to the altar. What took place there was a prophetic depiction of Jesus who would be both the final and perfect sacrifice as well as the high priest who offered it. It was symbolic of the depth of what is required if indeed we offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Rom 12:1-2.

Meanwhile, we sing “Come to the altar” as if it were an invitation to hug Santa Claus.

The altar is an invitation to tie ourselves up, be slain and die.

The tying, which is submission, is up to us. The slaying is a job for the High Priest. That’s Jesus. Anyone who has ever slaughtered a bull knows the sheer brutality, labor and gore involved. That the same sacrifice was immediately repeated with a ram only makes the scene seem more burdensome and intense. We may not slaughter animals as a propitiation for sin today. But shouldn’t our alter calls reflect the same sober intensity? Interestingly, Lev 8:3 lends deeper context to the scene when we consider that the entire congregation was required to be present. 

This was church. 

The Levitical Priests were just getting started.

“And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it will take seven days to ordain you. As has been done today, the Lord has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. At the entrance of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, performing what the Lord has charged, so that you do not die, for so I have been commanded.” Lev 8:33-35

There is mind-numbing, soul-shaking, typological, depth to this for those who understand. Suffice it to say that in addition to the wilderness, this is the place where God has repeatedly placed Cathy and me for the better part of two years. It is an uncomfortable place, albeit an often joyful place, a paradoxical place filled with futility and hope and the realization that our best efforts are analogous to a finger painting by a three-year-old presented to his father. Perhaps the desire to please God alone would qualify as an acceptable sacrifice. But then who can honestly say they do that? Hence, the bible says our best efforts are filthy rags. It seems more likely that our worldly displays before man for which people so often praise us has become our reward in full. Peeling the onion has shown us that

The counterfeit of true worship and sacrifice is the worship of one’s own reflection in the eyes of another and as we might imagine it in the eyes of God.

We are the tabernacle today. The tent entrance is symbolic of the place of coming to terms with ourselves as God reveals the deepest parts of ourselves in answer to prayer. Residual parts we don’t like and wish were not there. It is always parts we wish were not there that need to be cut away, discarded or burned. The altar is hard work. But the hardest part is in the submission to waiting.  

The entrance to the tent is a most necessary place.

It is at the entrance to the tent of our tabernacle that we wrestle with drudgery, immobility, and loneliness. We are all strangers in a strange land. But Honduras is a place where no matter how low and slow we go we will never be seen as equal, a part of, or the same. We are gringos. We are opportunity and blessing, consumers and cash. Sometimes we are bipedal ATMs. The deafening silence so devoid of true fellowship at the tabernacle door can produce the temptation to retrieve what was slain and return to comfort in the land of the prospering dead. We are here for seven days, however long or short a time that may actually be, according to His will and “so that (we) do not die.” There may be a different season and assignment on the horizon. In the meantime, this is what it looks like to learn to abide. John 15:5 

We are “Gray Hope Abidinaries”

Maranatha!

Am I a Moron?

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

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

My wife and I were talking about the current state of thinking in the world when I remembered that “The dumbing down of America” became a recurring MSM motif about 15 years ago. It had suddenly dawned on the nation that US high school and college students had been 1st in the world in math and science during the 1960s and were now in 26th place. Glenn Beck began a series on US history when he discovered revisionists had twisted it since Bill Ayers and company overtook the NEA and school curriculums. And I asked an older English teacher at the middle school where I worked if her students read books like “1984”, “Brave New World” or “Fahrenheit 451”. “Oh No”, she sighed, “In fact, they don’t read novels at all…they just need to be able to fill out the forms…”

Ten years later I was a clinical supervisor for six adolescent treatment sites where I was involved in the hiring and firing of counselors. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the multitudes of young degreed professionals who could not compose a grammatically correct sentence.

Moron

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

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

Subtle humor and innuendo are also abstract.

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

The List

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

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

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

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

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

“Who benifits most from that?”

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

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

Consensus alone means nothing in itself.

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

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

Rabbit or Duck?

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

The benefits of not being a moron

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

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

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

Maranatha

The Persecution Line

“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

2 Tim 3:12-13

This is a discussion prompt, not a declarative blog per se. I want to know what you think. The heat is being turned up as people debate Afghanistan, COVID, and the best way to manage threats to public health and civil liberties. Lots of people, Christians especially are viewing it through the lens of persecution for which there are varying definitions. We know that the church is being persecuted in places like Afghanistan, China, Iran, Ethiopia, Mozambique Nigeria, etc. And while it would seem that the seeds of similar future persecution have been sown in the 1st World West, the fact remains that people are not being incarcerated, blown up, and beheaded for preaching the gospel. Given that we still have the freedom to debate whether or not we are being persecuted, I figured now might be a good time to ask, what qualifies as persecution and

what is the correct biblical response to it?

You may have heard about James Coates and Aurter Pawarreski, two Canadian pastors who were arrested for continuing to hold regular church services.

It’s almost old news now but it sparked a fiery and ongoing public debate. 

James Coats remained respectful while claiming the government has no authority over worship before turning himself into police. Artur Pawlowski is a Polish immigrant who repeatedly kicked health inspectors and police out of his church calling them “Nazis”.  He was still screaming ” Nazi!” and “Gestapo!” when they arrested him in the street. His supporters did the same from the sidelines. Artur Pawlowski is from Poland and his family suffered under the Nazi occupation and then Russian communists. 

He may understand more about what is coming than those of us raised in the entitled west.

Then there is the 71-year-old Pastor Sherwood arrested in London while  delivering a message on the sanctity of marriage.  His message was viewed as  homophobic.

There is no Biblical basis for homosexual marriage. Still, Sherwood wasn’t attacking homosexuals. He was defending the sanctity of biblical marriage on the basis that is a representation of Christ’s relationship to His Church.  He wrestled with the police a bit before they got him in handcuffs. Sherwood was preaching the word of God in a public square as it has been preached for the last two thousand years. It always has and always will anger certain people. Apparently the police were trying to defuse a volatile situation and he was later released. The Canadian pastors were incarcerated. In this case they claimed their authority superseded that of government officials based the constitution and Heb 10:25

“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

They view this passage as an absolute command rather than an exhortation to endure persecution. Hence they adopted Peter’s defense in Acts 5

“We must obey God rather than men.”

I could be wrong but the historic context of Hebrews 10 where believers risked imprisonment and death to gather, seems more akin to what is happening to believers in places like Afghanistan than those protesting COVID measures in the west. That’s not to say that I like or in anyway agree with what it happening in the west.

Only that the scriptural argument seems rather weak.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government and the pastor’s detractors insisted that it was a public safety issue and that no one told them they could not meet. They just had to comply with COVID health standards. That meant no more than 15% of capacity at a time. After all, there are fire safety regulations related to the size of public gatherings in buildings. The Pastors replied that this would require them to do an impossible eight or more back-to-back sermons per day. They asserted that censorship of their preaching was the real agenda. I understand and empathize with their passion as well as skepticism regarding COVID data on both sides. Still, what is the biblically correct response to authority when I do not agree with it? Where exactly is the boundary, the proverbial line in the sand that I must not cross?  

What is the deal-breaker, the proverbial hill upon which I must be willing die?

There have always been evil people who abuse scripture for the sake of an agenda. Jesus versus Satan in Mat 4 is a good example. Another would be how Adolf Hitler duped the Catholics and most of the German protestant church with  Rom 13,

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…”

The standard argument against blind obedience to this passage today is rooted in verse 3

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 

Our obedience is contingent upon the Government doing good. Otherwise, Peter’s declaration in Acts 5 applies. Yet context matters. Peter and the other disciples were specifically ordered to stop preaching the Gospel in Acts 5.

While the proverbial jury may still be in session regarding vaccines, there is a difference between bad, albeit well-intentioned public policies and carefully planned genocide.

Today we have places like China, Afghanistan, and Iran imprisoning, torturing, and killing Christians. China was officially exposed for harvesting the organs of  Falun Gong and Uyghur Muslims in 2019 when even the UN had to acknowledge it. I don’t see anyone protesting it apart from Uyghurs and Falun Gong themselves. The western Church acknowledges persecution but hardly anyone is on the streets engaging in civil disobedience. We also have the abortion genocide taking place. There have been a minority of fools using physical force to oppose it, the strongest opposition has been in the form of legislative battles and churches preaching the gospel while providing an alternative path to adoption.

I can not help but wonder if those supporting and or protesting COVID measures are genuinely concerned for the well-being of others, the violation of God’s law, and the persecution of His image-bearers.

Or does persecution only matter when it is happening to them?

In any case Mat 16:25 Mat 10, Mark 13:9–13, Luke 21:12–17 are worth considering.

Today more and more people in the west seem willing to go to jail or worse over masks, social distancing, and vaccine passports. Again, I’m not saying that I agree with government policy and MSM narratives. As I have said in the past, I DO NOT! I could be wrong but as time goes on I am increasingly convinced that whatever the actual agenda may be, our health and well-being are NOT it. I am also convinced that at least fifty percent of the global population, and I’m being generous, has ZERO ability to discern and filter fallacious arguments. Most simply choose a political tribe, open their mouths, and swallow the corresponding narrative like baby birds in a nest. I guess this affords them the illusion of safety and inclusion.

If I were the devil I’d be giddy as hell.

Hence, we must contend with the fact that Jesus beat the devil through submission as exemplified by the cross. As for us we have hard truths like that proclaimed by Peter in 1 Pet 2

“Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul. Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, (unbelievers) so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.  For it is God’s will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.  Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1 Pet 2:11-17

Candlesticks of Christianity

I say “hard truth” because Nero was the emperor to whom Peter would have been referring at the time. Among other abominations, Nero is known for burning Christians as human candles to light the streets of Rome. It was under Nero that Peter was ultimately crucified.

He was killed for preaching the gospel not demanding his rights.

Whether or not the current global trajectory will be interrupted by opposing social and political forces is anyone’s guess. If I were a betting man I’d be all in on NO. Meanwhile, MSM narratives are becoming increasingly absurd. I’m not sure if this is indicative of their desperation or their arrogance.  Still, the fact remains that left unchecked, our current trajectory can only lead to Mat 24:1-13. I know people are cheering the new abortion legislation in Texas and rightly so as it is a dent in the ongoing genocide.

Still…

I suspect that any small victories on our part now will mainly serve as fuel for what is coming in verse 9.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”

People hate us now for our biblical stand on abortion when we have little to no power over it. Imagine if Roe V Wade were overturned. Hence, our first, but certainly not our only concern within the body of Christ today should be verse 10.

“And then many will fall away (be offended) and betray one another and hate one another.”

The temptation for believers to be offended at one another on political grounds and deceptive MSM narratives will only get stronger. Offense is “Skandalon” in the Greek.

Skandalon means “trap”.

Perhaps you think this is hyperbole. Maybe you are still holding onto hope of the imminent return of the comfortable norm. If that is the case then old existential reality has yet to I for one believe we need to prepare the body of Christ to endure the coming persecution in a way that most glorifies God. Our sermons and conversations with one another should reflect that.  According to Voice of the Martyrs when a Muslim in the persecuted middle east surrenders to Jesus it is with the understanding and condition that they are willing to be persecuted and martyred for the sake of the gospel.

They are given zero hope of experiencing their best life now.

Perhaps you have already embraced this reality. If so, great. Now help to prepare others.  Still, I invite everyone to take an inventory of their lives and ask, “what evidence is there in my life that would suggest that I am prepared?” “What if anything needs to change?” “What is stopping me?” It’s no coincidence that Richard Wurmbrand the founder of Voice of the Martyrs saw persecution coming long before the Russians invaded Romania, long before he was thrown in prison and tortured for 14 years. He memorized 365 scriptures, one for each day of the year countering fear.  He went into persecution prepared to glorify God. That is exactly what he did.

His preparation continues to bear fruit today.

It also occurs to me as I write, that I have several competing points of view within my own mind. Maybe you can relate. There is the old man, the satanic fleshly former US Marine ready to throw down for “My rights damn it!”.  Then there is the logical, argumentative, apologist that abhors skewed data, logical fallacies, and especially the cult of scientism.  This part wants to believe that given enough evidence and a clear enough argument, most people will make the smart decision. Then there is the new man, the born again, spirit-filled, Acts 17:11 Berean style believer who stands on the 2 Tim 3:16-17 God-breathed truth that the word of God is the objective standard of all truth and conduct.

I discipline myself to choose the latter. 1 Cor 9:27

I am convinced that the body of Christ is at a crossroads today. It is increasingly marked by 1 Cor 11:17-19 division in the spirit of “choose this day whom you will serve”. Joshua 24:15 We need to clarify and commit to what glorifies God amongst ourselves rather than argue and divide over politics. There are a lot of heresies between WOKE and the Qanon cult. The most heretical typically sound the most loving in worldly terms. Every great-sounding heretical position and false gospel narrative is easily identified by the near or total absence of sound scriptural arguments. It seems to me that the only way for Christians to obey Jesus’s command in Mat 24:4 and choose wisely now is to make certain that our worldview and subsequent choices conform to the word of God.

Psalm 138:2

So what do you think?

Where is your persecution line?

Maranatha

Doing Shots

Surviving Sophistry

Sophistry– the use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

Anyone who knows me or my testimony has heard my trademark response anytime a person asks me to drink with them.

“Sure, just as as long as you understand that when I do, you and I are both going to jail!

Its been near a quarter century since I’ve been to jail.

Tell me if you notice anything strange about the GIF below.

Viral Sophistry
Click on the image to read.

You can read this blog for the sake of the biblical message and conclusion at the end. Those who appreciate sarcasm might read between lines and enjoy the humor. Or you can simply view it as my personal note pad and evaluate the linked sources on your own.

Don’t worry. Peter had a hard time thinking outside of the box.

Recently a missionary friend observed that 2020 seemed marked by a growing challenge in discovering the truth about anything. In that respect 2021 is 2020 on steroids. While my current prophetic outlook remains the same as what I highlighted in “God Chose Joe Biden”, I am absolutely willing if not desirous of being proven wrong. A willingness to be wrong is the best defense against sophistry and fallacious conclusions rooted in normalcy bias, anecdotal evidence, and “appeals to authority”

Given that I have been vaccinated for just about everything with zero side effects, you’d think I’d be biting at the bit to get this one too. I was all in when the “_?_demic” began. In fact some of my conservative friends blocked me on FB when I praised Hondurans for being so compliant with Government mandates. However, I have always believed that one key in overcoming normalcy bias is to defend the opposing argument and see if it holds water.

Let’s see what holds water.

As for appeals to authority, these are most easily seen in fact-checker claims that such and such is untrue because

“Scientists or some government agency says.”

Keep in mind that the primary issue is that these arguments require faith in a source rather than our understanding of concrete evidence and data.  The sophistic mainstream media counts on this.

2 minute video.

If I were to take today’s headlines and FB discussions at face value I would believe the human race is on the verge of extinction. Of course human extinction is not biblical. Meanwhile, we have had one or two cases of the alleged extinction catalyst in our village with zero hospitalizations or deaths. Given new data emerging out of Israel regarding young adult mortality, it will be interesting to see what happens now that people in our community have access to vaccines. 

A fair number of Doctors have expressed concern about this.

From my perspective, the current narrative is the latest and greatest example of the orchestrated division generated by fallacious arguments and “slothfully induced” conclusions. Jesus said that a divided house can not stand. That said, all I have at this point are questions about the extinction catalyst and the unapproved miracle vaccines. For example,

  1. Dr. Fauci disagrees with people like Former Pfizer VP Dr. Mike Yeadon (You should listen to this one) and Dr. Robert Malone. Dr. Malone is the inventor of the mRNA vaccine. On what basis should I side with one argument over the other?
  2. What happened to the flu?
  3. It is true there are zero clinical samples of the viral culprit?
  4. Why are the total yearly deaths for all causes virtually unchanged between 2018-2020? 
  5. Is the spike protein benign or is it the primary cause of COVID related complications? If so, then why are we turning human bodies into spike protein factories?
  6. Isn’t it an oxymoron to declare an FDA unapproved vaccine safe? Won’t the FDA have to violate its own standards if it declares them safe before at least two years of human trials are completed?
  7. Given that correlation alone is never proof of cause, how many possible vaccine-related deaths are acceptable before we halt vaccinations pending a full investigation?

I am told anti-vaxxers are dumb and or evil. Anyone questioning the safety of vaccines is just uneducated and unsophisticated evil, right-wing rednecks. If that is the case as so many snobby snowflake leftists assert, then how do we explain this?

While I am open to non-fallacious arguments that support my taking a vaccine the only evidentially based arguments not rooted in appeals to authority that I can find support concerns about their safety. Many of these arguments are linked here. Meanwhile fear, mockery, censorship, and threats seem to be the most popular pro-vaccine selling points.

By the way, you may want to open the hyperlinks before you can’t.

A PATHOLOGIST SUMMARY OF WHAT THESE JABS DO TO THE BRAIN AND OTHER ORGANS
I downloaded this before it was removed by Youtube. Bad arguments can and should be disputed with logic and data not censorship.

Lots of people dispute the concerns that I’ve sourced here. That’s fine, especially since I haven’t reached any conclusions yet. My issue is that almost none have done so logically. Clown emojis and hominem-type attacks only prove immaturity and abject stupidity on the part of commenters. Also, it is my opinion that trusting media sources owned and controlled by now two corporations strikes me as the antithesis of logic. You are free to call that a conspiracy theory after you explain this.

1.5 minute video

I think it’s important to point out that none of the sources cited here are anti-vaxxers. Still, it has become utterly pointless to even try to have a reasoned discussion with passionate pro-Covid vaxxers because people are terrified of losing their lives.  Terror has a way of invoking stupidity even in the smart making them easy to indoctrinate. I’m not exactly sure when Americans became so cowardly. But then, cowardice is courage in an Orwellian Isaiah 5:20 world. In any case it seems the words of God to Jeremiah will soon apply.

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” Jer 12:5

While I could obsess over all the nastiness, and ridiculous ad hominem arguments that come my way, become bitter and frustrated and fire back in return, I am asking God to help me to walk in gentleness, kindness and self control and simply see the growing division as confirmation of the times.

Unfortunately not everyone sees it that way.

One thing seems certain, things are going to get harder. The good news is that there is a blessed hope at the end for those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.  Still, if you want to understand the dynamics of what happened to the Jews in Germany beginning around 1938 just watch the public comments on social media today and then project the future of our current trajectory.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim 3

2 Tim 3 is deeper dive into some of the things about which Jesus warned in Mat 24.  Again the point here is that we are on a trajectory not just a passing point in history. If this were only happening in the USA I might believe we are in another Fourth Turning and that what is coming can be stopped. But it’s happening globally. Lots of people are wishing and hoping and believing that things are going to get better. I hope it does but I rather doubt it. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” There are moral and religious people among us, several of whom read this blog. Yet as a nation, we are anything but that. Globally speaking we are in many ways worse off because of our original covenantal roots. As a nation we are subject to God’s judgment.  Paul’s warning to the Corinthians applies to us today just as it did to Israel.

“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1Cor 10:11

I suppose there could be some supernatural move of God that brings heaven to earth as some believe. I’d be ok with that. I’d also be ok with being taken up in a cloud before the tribulation. I just don’t see any of that happening before Mat 24:29-31. The sooner the body of Christ realizes that we are not returning to the previous, prosperous status quo, and instead focus on enduring that we might become a spotless bride, the better off we will be. Mat 25:1-13

Meanwhile…

“Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” Dan 12

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess 2:11

I don’t know what the right course of action is regarding the current crisis. I only know that being wise a serpent and gentle as a dove is more important than ever, as is Jesus’s first warning in the oliviet discourse Mat 24.

See that no one deceives you.

The sophistry is only going to increase.

Now I realize that almost no one wants to hear any of this least of all those with a preterist, postmillennial view of eschatology. If you believe the church will Christianize the proverbial 7 Mountains of society then I suspect your error will become clear soon enough. If a pretribulation rapture represents your eschatological view, please don’t freak out if it looks like you have been left behind. You are not rejected and the wrath of God is not upon you. Just endure as Jesus instructed with the understanding that Rev 12:11 and Rev 13:10 are there for a reason. Understand that your true survival may not include surviving in this life.

In the meantime,

Sidestep the sophistry.

Repent and preach repentance with  Rev 21:8 in mind.

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all LIARS, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Maranatha

Postscript: Here is an addendum to the original publication regarding pregnancy risks.

CRT Genealogy and Scripture Rebuttal

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

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

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

The beginning

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” Rev 12:7-8

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

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

1789-99 Rousseau – egalitarianism – French Revolution

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

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

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

1911 Chinese Revolution

Russian Communist Revolution 1917

American Communist Party forms 1919

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

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

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

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

Marcuse was perhaps the most classically Marxist of the three and proposed that ideas, speech, behaviors, etc. must be disallowed.

1945-52 Chinese Communist Revolution

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

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

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

1967 Jacques Derrida develops what is commonly known today as “deconstructionism”. While it originally focused on textual criticism, it became foundational to cultural Marxist deconstruction resulting in the “cancel culture” of today. It also underpins the process whereby so many Christians are deconstructing and falling away from the faith. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Convergence theory: Whites are incapable of doing anything except in their interest.  Real-time application: Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is accused of attempting to conceal her racial bias by adopting black children.

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

4. All knowledge is socially constructed.  Language forms the building blocks. What you say matters more than what you do. Real-time application: Today looting and burning by oppressed groups are “peaceful protests”.

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

2011 the Occupy Wall Street movement emerges seemingly out of no where and is ironically funded by billionaires like George Soros.  The emerging classical Marxist narrative seeks to marginalize the 1% in and threatens to “burn it all down”.

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

2014 Michael Brown killed in St. Louis MO

2016 Donald Trump elected POTUS.

2017 ANTIFA emerges as a formidable presence in the USA.  while the group traces its roots back to 1936 opposition to the Nazis its reemergence might be traced to the Occupy Movement. ANTIFA might be termed an anarchic-communist group with no discernable leadership structure.  However, the extent of their operations, organizational and communication sophistication are evidence of both financings and some form of centralized leadership.  These are the jackbooted brown shirt-type thugs that along with BLM are what Vladimir Lenin called “useful idiots”.  As has been the case in every Marxist revolution, these will be the first to be lined up and shot if and when the desired Marxist regime is achieved.

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

2020 Ahmaud Arbery shot by vigilantes in GA.

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

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

2021  Patrisse Cullors purchases four homes for 3.2 Million dollars.

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

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

These people are accursed. 

Bible Verses

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

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

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

Gen 1:26 all of are His image-bearers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARANATHA

The Hammer and The Lamp

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

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

Jason in the white T-Shirt

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

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

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

The CHAIR

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intimacy

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

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

I chose to be who I am.

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


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

Light exposes what is hidden in darkness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being conformed to His image involves considering these things.

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

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

Exposure Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please also keep my friend Jason in your prayers.

Maranatha!

Racism, Truth and The Samaritian Woman

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 is therefore 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

Think about it.

Walking in Dust

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 have since revised my outlook.

This is the beginning of sorrows.

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?

Anyway, I’m just gonna leave this here…

The black life of this former police chief killed by a looter mattered so much that Twitter took it down.

The most recent the FBI UCR Crime Stats are nearly the same

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

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

46 million slaves in 167 countries today.

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

“According to both the Hebrew Bible and Jewish oral tradition, a Messiah is a king, a warrior, a political figure, or a revolutionary whose mission is divine and specific to the Jews. But the leader is neither divine nor a savior concerned with the afterlife of humanity. Neither is a Messiah worshiped as a deity.”

It seems like this fits the definition of a contemporary secular social justice warrior, more than some poor nut job claiming to be God.

Yeah I know… But think about it

“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

Jannes and Jambres were sorcerers and we know from 1 Sam 15:23 that God views rebellion and sorcery as the same.

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 13:35 Koinonia. 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

“Category”.

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

PERIOD.

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 Jewish privilege 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

Period.

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.

Gal 3:27-28

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

“Thy will be done. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”

The hardest part is coming Mat 24:9-14

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!