THE BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE

“Your words have been arrogant against Me,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’

You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts?

So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.'”

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name.

“They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

Malachi 3:13-18

Falling away doesn’t happen overnight for most people. When you hear accounts of Christian celebrities going from belief to unbelief, they often freely admit that it was a slow descent into hellish thoughts…

Truly, if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then putting the justness of God in a questionable light has proved to be the beginning of many follies. The moment a soul begins to approve their sense of justice above the Creator’s justice is the very moment that one begins the deep dive into the belly of the beast.

We have all questioned at some point, of course; the question is whether our questioning is a means to justify ourselves as gods or taken as a lesson of trust and patience in God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Let God be true and every man a liar.

Romans 3

Two Roads Widely Travelled

In terms of Christians who denounce the faith, there are two roads of thought widely travelled and culturally popular today: Vanity and Hell. Both exalt themselves above the knowledge of God and end in a free-fall from grace.

VANITY

“It is vain to serve God” is a sentiment mentioned more than once in the Bible and, thus, deserves some attention. I too have wrestled this great demon and cannot help but think of this wonderful quote when such thoughts present themselves today:

“Be silent! Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a witless worm!”

Gandalf, The Two Towers

Amen, Gandalf; amen.

Crooked words from a crooked enemy, who cleverly disguises our own vanity and preoccupation with self-interest as a noble accusation against God — the devil’s Creator and ours! (Remember, our enemy is part of the fallen angels; he did not create himself: ergo, he is not God’s equal.)

Is this not covetousness at its greatest fallen heights? If we conclude that it is vain to serve God, then is it not because we have compared our benefits (or, eh, lack thereof) with someone else’s? The wicked seem to be getting ahead and getting away with it too: Does our flesh want in on that? — To get away with something? To squash accountability? Repentance? Dependence? Obscurity? Poverty? Shunning?

To save ourselves?

Oh, I think so…

It is true that “God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts”, and without the “mind of Christ”, this life can be a big disappointment in general. Temptation comes to us all, but believing the devil’s lies is entrapment: “Did God really say?”

Well, yes, Satan; He did: He said we would again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked… (Praise God!) So, buzz off.

HELL

Questioning God’s justice often begins with questioning hell itself. Everyone has heard the phrase by now: “How could a loving God…”

Personally, I find this a strange sentiment and, often, extinguish and equate such thoughts – along with the people who think them – with people who 1) do not understand the present darkness in the world (that is, how evil people can be) or 2) have never experienced abuse or had cause to require and desire true justice like a person starved of living water.

I do not believe a young child who has been sexually abused or tormented has any trouble imagining hell — nor why some would need to go there.

I do not think that someone brought up in occult circles, after being abused, manipulated, possessed, or tormented, will find cause to question the necessity of hell when the time of God’s vengeance comes.

I do not imagine that any woman forced to have sex for a job position will have too many qualms about sending the perpetrator there…

Epstein, anyone? Does he really need to go there?

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.

Proverbs 11:10

Personally, I’m concerned for the naive among us when they can’t honestly nod their heads with that verse… because it’s true.

But I know what they’ll say next: I haven’t murdered or abused or etc…

In short, Why should I go to hell just because I don’t believe in Jesus? Isn’t that the standard?

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Revelation 21:8

Well, yes.

And we’ve Psaki’d-back now to the first road we discussed: VANITY.

It’s not how you’d do the sorting, is it? You don’t think that’s a fair standard: It’s your opinion pedestaled here. You know better than the Creator of the heavens and earth — the same One who created you (by the way)?

The Potter has said to the clay, “There is one way by which you must be saved; narrow is the gate.”

And the clay has protested, “That’s not just.”

Well?

What’ll it be, mortal man? You or the Creator? Will you too join the wicked to ‘make war on God’ in the last days? — That is how the next story begins, you know.

“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Revelation 17:14

Personally, I want to be found among those “called, chosen, and faithful”. That’s my ‘tribe’: Those whose names are found in the Lamb’s book of life — those He remembers.

Created Chimeras

People were passing in fast-forward motion, in and out, all around. I took my seat after being shot; I sat in a daze: My heart was on the floor, blood pulsing out and bursting and staining.

I did not expect to find hope; I did not wish nor ask for you to come: But I wanted to believe. You took my chin and pulled it up to your gaze. The world stood still around you, and you became the chimera of my heart, a lovely place to embrace…

Then came the Sheriff with his well-versed gang. They gathered around us there, guns pointed and aimed. We were all trigger-happy, but I was already bleeding out. The Sheriff came to employ the Curse to further his cause: You faded like smoke.

Was it the threat of doubtful glances or the guns, pointed and aimed, that caused me to see through you? As quickly as you you came, you left, and I bent to plug the holes in my heart, but the pressure was too much: I was losing too much living water.

The Curse put a boot on my heart and squished it right there. I fell as dead, air abandoning my chest. Somewhere, you stood watching, but the room was spinning with so many of your faces, a million miles away…

What was left of my mind wandered through the shock. Didn’t the very realization of a false expectation suggest something also real? As the counterfeit naturally assumes the existence of the truth, why had my hope been so unrealistic, too much, or in vain? Hadn’t you promised with the tilt of my chin to protect, to listen, to see?

But something better than the Sheriff came; I wish you could have been there to see Him. Love walked through the door like a naked, dancing parade of holiness; he wore no surprise in his eyes, no frills or pretense: He didn’t need them. He wasted no time in taking a place between the Curse and me. The Sheriff wasted no time in opening fire.

Bullets fell like an acid rain shower; not one hit me: Love took every aim. The Curse tried to wield his ugly magic, demanding payment for the things I’d stained. And no one spoke. Who would dare to touch the Curse?

I thought you might see then, but now I realized that you were like me: We were both broken and bleeding. You were sealed behind walls of insecurity, closed off in a casket of your own crafted fears, and I began to understand: The Curse haunted you as it haunted me.

What was your pain? Who was your betrayer? How long had you been fighting to breathe? Busy, busy, busy — I admit, you covered your injuries better than me. I wondered if you even saw the pool of blood puddling around your own feet, seeping out from beneath those walls…

Love seemed to give the Curse just what he wanted, though I don’t think it was what the Curse had in mind. You should have seen the pleasure on the Sheriff’s face when Love carefully picked up my squished heart and tossed it away! The Curse gobbled it up — finished it off with glee!

And I was still wide-awake; I cannot say that it was painless. I think I screamed your name. But death did not take me nor frighten Love away…

Oh! You should have seen the horror on the Sheriff’s face when Love ripped open his own chest, took his own beating heart, and placed it inside of me!

The Sheriff wailed and disappeared! The gang fled too. The Curse tore himself to shreds…

Love’s blood was now my blood, and the Curse was banished forever in that way.

I’m watching you now, busy chimera — fellow created soul. And I see now why you couldn’t save me: It wasn’t your blood that I needed.

You were always an idol.

Created Chimeras

by Amanda Jump, 2008

Countless souls jeopardized by a global training exercise…

Imagine, if you will, a training exercise. An epic, global training exercise. An exercise well-planned by experts who have concocted an infectious disease scenario to usher in a ‘global reset’ — that is, a resetting of economic, governmental, and national orders.

But, imagine, if you will, that this is only a drill…

What latent effects can we expect? What probable outcome will this have on the global populous? Will all do as they are told? And, if not, what then?

These are reasonable questions any expert might want to answer so that they feel better prepared when the real thing, the real disease of devastation, is unleashed.

At first, people are confused: A pandemic, you say? Can it really be?

I don’t know anyone who is sick, evolves into knowing a few people, twice-removed, who are sick, and quickly descends into everyone knowing someone. So, it must be so — it must be as they say — the blind participants mutter to themselves and others…

This is a training exercise, after all, but it is performed as a blind study: The global population doesn’t know if they’re getting a truth pill or a placebo. They are forced to rely, then, upon feelings, experience, or hearsay.

Should they or shouldn’t they wear a mask? Does the mask actually help? Is there proof? Why does the narrative change and evolve as quickly as the stated infectious disease?

The people question, but each goes his own way: Some believe, some don’t, and others still live in the realm of confusion hoping things will return to normal soon.

Then comes the next phase.

Lockdown, lock-in, and lock-out. Stay home. Only go out if you must. Churches close, restaurants close, hair-stylists get arrested for not closing, and a great exodus begins working from home, moving to rural areas, and finding alternative social options.

Those who believe chastise those who don’t; those who don’t believe draw lines in the sand, as those still confused try to referee the tensions. For a while, this works.

But tension grows. The experts take note…

More force is required to complete the exercise and get a true picture of the situation on the ground — where the experts do not live. Those who have accepted the narrative are rewarded as gold star pupils, but this is in name only: The same rules still apply to believers and unbelievers. There is no escaping the careful confines of their study; they’ve spent too long planning this exercise for it to fail to achieve the objectives of their experiment.

A new remedy is introduced as the savior-on-the-scene. The experts hold up their hollow obelisk and suggest that the participants hurry to drink as quickly as possible, for their own good. Those who believe have long-awaited the day: Finally! Peace, they say…

But the unbelievers hold back. It’s definitely full of poison, they speculate. It’s all too neat; it’s all too chaotic; it’s all too much like a… like a…

But they can’t decide or agree upon what it’s like. The pool of the confused grows larger, along with the outcry to resist the experts’ guidance. After all, their suggestion leads to a trap door and, through that, another maze: A maze with harsher confines. A narrow, one-sided, one-dimensional maze that simply says, Drink the cure, get on with the study, or get out of our world.

Of course, they fail to mention that this is the study: To see who will complete the series of steps in their maze and who fails to comply. It’s crucial that they know who they can depend upon in the future; it’s crucial that they know just how many mice will need to be removed from their future exercises — unacceptable, unfit, unbelieving. Reset is the end goal; disease (soon-to-be climate), the means.

Countless souls, however, are placed in jeopardy by their nefarious training exercises. Did they know it would go this way? Or was this a latent effect? Or was this for the sake of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 being fulfilled?

A sword is placed upon the populous’ necks, threatening to separate husband from wife, son from father, friend from friend — and who could have foreseen it? A long-time friend is now offended: You think I would drink poison? they ask of their friend. You’ve lost your mind, father says to son: How could you think that I would do such a thing?

This isn’t poison, says one.

This is poison, says another.

The watching remain quiet, thinking: Is this poison?

Meanwhile, the training exercise goes on… because without offense, confusion, and division, the experts could never conduct the real test of souls. So, the experiment goes on, one right angle after another, all leading where?

What happened to peace? — Didn’t we drink of the hollow obelisk? — Can’t we do as we please now? The gold star students wonder.

But the experts reassure the populous that this is not so. Not only must things go on as they have been, but the confines must become more narrow: We must strain the mice through this magical keyhole, they say. The keyhole is constructed of red tape, thick red tape. It reads: Drink or die a social death.

Well, that seems necessary, the already offended, dedicated, and weary decide.

I told you so, the unbelieving cry.

This whole experiment is a placebo, an empty Trojan horse; things will get back to normal, the confused self-soothe.

What now?

Spiritual Effects

Perhaps, you recognize the training exercise scenario. Perhaps, you’ve seen it somewhere before…

I have suspended judgement on the hollow obelisk for now. Oh, I agree that there is something very not right with this training exercise we are presently in; nonetheless, I watch and wait… because, for now, I believe this is our training exercise, the trial-run, so to speak…

But I am not encouraged by what I see.

At this point, I feel I know few Christians who wouldn’t at least agree that present circumstances appear to be setting up for future events. Some say more, some say less, but this seems to be the general feeling I encounter.

That being the case, the Church is in a world of hurt. Already there are family members being divided over whether this is the training exercise or the last days event we’ve been trained to scout for from our youth. Those who are convinced of the latter are now facing the heated offense and rejection of family members who claim to be Christian but are accused now of falling for the great deception. They deny that they could be fooled by such a poison.

What I mean to say is that the future greater persecution may, and is likely to, come from those we once walked to the house of God with, after the falling out and falling away… and I know from experience what a tremendous rattling of heart and mind that can be.

For it is not an enemy who insults me;

That I could endure.

It is not a foe who rises against me;

From him I could hide.

But it is you, a man like myself,

my companion and close friend.

We shared sweet fellowship together;

We walked with the crowd into the house of God.

Psalm 55:12-14

This is no small thing, Church. It is no small offense. It is no small division. And, while it may be only hearsay now, as the days trail on, will these things too continue to unfold and increase — from hearsay to a family member near you?

The point of this piece is not to state whether we are living in a training exercise at the present moment. As stated, I cannot in good conscience make a definite call on that yet. The point, my dear brothers and sisters, is to point out the jeopardy of souls at play, the great offense that is sweeping through hearts and minds, the divisions of lost empathy, love, and relationship.

That mark that defines the end of worldly pursuits is only the beginning of a spiritual civil war — of wheat and tares suddenly revealed, alarmed, and bewildered.

There will be no escaping it. Lines will be drawn.

And if this is only the training exercise, beloved, how hard will be those days….

Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in rebellion: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Pray for the endurance, faith, and patience of the saints.

Nonetheless, let us give thanks that the book of Revelation also reveals a great innumerable host worshiping around God’s throne, who have endured tribulation! That is a very hopeful scene, indeed.

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:13-14

Amen.

Children Wisdom

While any parent can benefit from what I am about to share, this is specifically for those saints who have become too comfortable in their settings and, especially, in the church building.

Statistically speaking, many already know that a child is multiples of times more likely to be abused by a family member or close friend of the family (i.e., someone they know) than by a complete stranger. That statistic may be about to change with the vicious predatory nature of sex-trafficking; however, in either setting, familiar or not, every parent should be alerted to the practical measures they can take to help prevent putting their children in harm’s way.

Basic Social Awareness

Let’s start with a few basics that our family sees ignored by the general populous on the daily. Though we have more experience with observing the statistical truths through the lens of our work in a group home and a boarding school, these are common sense measures that might help prevent a child from going missing in a public setting in the first place — a sudden-onset heart palpitation no good parent wants to experience.

The first one is so easy, we’ve trained our own kids to see it:

“Mom, why are those kids walking so far behind their parents?”

Indeed. Why?

They’re everywhere. At Target. Meandering into a gas station. Exiting the grocery stores: Kids trailing ten to fifteen feet behind their guardian (I assume and hope, a parent).

It is sometimes so egregious that I’ve witnessed children as young as three or four still lagging behind the adult outside of the store, in the road, as the adult bullishly continues and proceeds to go inside, get a cart, and only then look behind them to see if the kid is still there.

Really? Do you know how easy it would be to snatch a kid and run in this situation?

Some people are more aware of their puppy’s deviances and wanderings, herding them like the known trouble-attracters that they are, than some parents are of their young children’s vulnerability in public spheres.

Did I watch the whole time to make sure that young one got reattached to the adult inside of the store. Yes. Yes, I did. And if I’m watching, others may be too — with less upright intent.

I realize that this is an extreme example. Most kids we see trailing are only five to ten feet behind their guardians, but even that is too much.

Which leads to my second point, related to the first:

If you can think of no greater loss in life than to lose one of your children in a kidnapping scenario —

Why not hold their hands in public?

Why not make sure they are holding onto some part of you (your purse, a sleeve, an elbow, the cart etc…) if you lack enough hands?

Why not make sure they are IN SIGHT at all times, and within arms-reach, when surrounded by unknown herds?

Forget heli-copting accusations, parents. These are basic rules that signal to anyone watching that you are paying attention. If you think these are overreaching, you do not understand the times… and someone is probably watching your children from a distance because you aren’t.

Just because something didn’t happen, doesn’t mean someone wasn’t watching.

The Familiars

Our family, along with the group home kids in our care, visited a nice Anglican church for a short while. It was in a posh part of town, clean but humble, and we enjoyed the services.

After a time, our family was invited to a small group from this church, and it happened to be a small group that was held in the pastor’s home. So, we attended — once, and never again.

I loved it. The women in the group were delightful, smart, musical, and the home was everything I’d come to expect from a mid-to-upper class establishment. There was nothing unpleasant about it. Well-lit and friendly.

And you’re probably going to think our reasons for never going back are a little crazy, but I can tell you I’ve never regretted that decision.

At the end of the fellowship, the priest/pastor asked to hold my daughter, who was under two at the time, and proceeded to carry her upstairs and show her around the house —

Without me.

Without her father.

And without my expressed permission to do so.

Let’s stop to remember that we liked this guy. We’d been taking not only our own children but other children with us to his church. But his actions in that moment are, unfortunately, classic predatory and grooming tactics — whether he meant them to be.

Long story short, if someone is acting too familiar with your children, whether you know them or not, little alarms should begin to sound in your ears. In this case, it was someone we didn’t know well, so we had more reason to feel alarmed.

In some cases, when the person is more familiar, those alarms sound far too late…

I am just one woman, yet I have several stories of fine, upstanding, church folk doing the wrong thing. And, lest you think I’m beating up on church here, I can tell you that these issues are even more prevalent in the world and in other institutions: I can only tell you about the issues in the arenas with which I am familiar and, for me, the primary one is church.

I will move onto the consanguineal unit in a moment, but I want to share one more story that exemplifies the latent effects of sin blossoming in the church.

The evangelical church my family attended growing up had a stretch of 40 days of prayer and services. Every night for 40 days we met for evening services. Our family showed up early, sometimes helping with set-up or tear-down, sometimes trying to snag one of the popular chocolate-chip cookies they set out before service, always meeting for the usher-team prayer prior to service. I was around fourteen years old, and it was my task to lay the little silk blankets over women’s skirts after they were ‘slain in the Spirit’ during the service.

Anyway. On one particular night, I noticed the worship leader and one of his young protégés, a young woman, acting a little too friendly. Perhaps, the worship leader playing Hotel California before the service to entertain the girl should have been anyone’s first clue… but I digress.

Of course, he was married with three kids. She was young and dumb — as most of us are in our early twenties. And I was later (that night) sent on a mission to relay information to the soon MIA worship leader.

I have no idea what the message was now. Indeed, I could scarcely recall the message after finding him and the young lady in the maintenance closet hugging and kissing.

Well, that will rock the world of any naive teenager who still believes church people are blameless of such blatant sins. It certainly rocked mine.

I was not the victim, exactly, in this particular case, but I was the child — the child witnessing things that rocked my view of the world, of church, and of authority structures everywhere.

ALL sexual sins are harmful to someone. No doubt, this young lady was hurt, I was hurt by witnessing the transgression, and the worship leader kicked his own marriage down.

The Consanguineal (Fancy word for blood relations)

Some things are obvious.

I’m walking with my kids to a local gas station. An older guy appears out-of-nowhere to offer my girls some Halloween cookies. We accept, though I am wishing the whole time he hadn’t appeared — and even moreso when, after my girls take the cookies, he says, “Now you have to do a trick for me.”

Uh. Hell no and bye.

Other things are not so obvious.

One of the dearest, sweetest girls we had the privilege of knowing while working in a group home had been molested for years by her father as her older brothers turned a blind eye and while her mother didn’t believe her (or didn’t want to believe her — more likely).

And she wasn’t the first girl in my life to personally tell me this same story. It is horrifying and it is the day we live in, for those still blissfully unaware (and I hope you are in a way).

Was it hard for the mother to believe because losing a husband would be too hard? Or was it hard because she never thought he would or could do such a thing? Whichever the case, it’s even harder for me to believe that she did not have some inkling that her own daughter was telling her the hard truth… Perhaps, the mother too had been abused in her youth.

Would you believe it if your son or daughter accused your family’s close friend? An uncle? A brother? A father? Even an aunt? A business partner? Someone at church?

Sadly, we also live in a day when some kids would falsely accuse if given the right circumstances, but I think that is still less likely at present. So, what is the reason for not believing these little lambs when they say, This happened to me?

But we’ve all heard such stories. Haven’t we?

Let’s return to the less obvious and practical practices.

An adolescent older brother should not be set in charge of changing his baby sister’s diaper or training pants. I would give that caution anywhere, but I was most alarmed to see this happen once while working in a church nursery — with the mother’s expressed permission for it to be done that way.

Ladies… momma… I am here to tell you, that the sibling in this situation is more likely to abuse the girl than the other mom working in the church nursery — and that’s not my opinion: That’s statistical fact.

It grieves me to think that this mom may have been trying to protect her daughter, all the while making the worst decision possible. AT BEST, she was setting her son up for temptation or failure.

As with our fathers, of course we want to believe the best about this young and seemingly responsible older brother’s intentions, but sin seeks opportunity, dear ones. Our job as parents is to reduce those opportunities as much as possible.

Sin seeks opportunity! Our job as parents is to reduce that opportunity as much as possible!

Porn is rampant in the church. Child porn in rampant in our society. And technology makes it extremely easy to process, upload, and share. Please do not discount this warning when you see strange things and feel alarms going off inside.

Closing Doors

My husband and I have set a few practical boundaries in place for our children because of the things we’ve seen, experienced, and personally heard testimony to in our lives. I want to share a few of those things with you as suggestions for your own family. I was pleasantly surprised, after moving to Iowa, to find that we were not the only parents who had set some of these things in place. (High five! You know who you are!)

  1. WE DO NOT PERMIT SLEEPOVERS. NOPE.
  2. OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE ALONE IN A ROOM WITH A MALE ADULT. PERIOD. RELATED OR NOT. (AND WHEN I SEE THAT IT HAS HAPPENED OR I SUSPECT IT, I BEGIN HUNTING FOR CHILDREN.)
  3. I HOLD THE SAME GENERAL RULE FOR OLDER MALE CHILDREN.
  4. PRESENTLY, OUR CHILDREN ARE STILL NOT PERMITTED OUT-OF-SIGHT UNLESS WE KNOW EXACTLY WHERE THEY ARE AND THEY ARE WITH OTHER CHILDREN THEIR AGE OR A PROPER GUARDIAN.
  5. OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT FREE TO RUN AROUND THE CHURCH BUILDING OR CAMPUS WITHOUT SUPERVISION.

We have, in emergency or special cases, made exemptions for a few of these rules, but they are the general rules that govern how we govern our children.

I know you want to cite that news piece about the young kid who took the bus or subway every day alone in NYC, but please don’t. I read it too, and I think it’s convenient… convenient that a world under the sway of the devil would suggest such behaviors and ‘freedoms’ for your kids.

You may not feel that the world is really under Satan’s power-grip right now, but you should know that there are people who have very ugly agendas for our children. The San Francisco gay choir even sang about it. And one of Satanist’s texts (Pike or Hall; I don’t have the exact reference) plainly states:

Well, it has become increasingly obvious in our society lately, hasn’t it? Already, the above stated agenda has been implemented in T.V. and music videos. God knows, society has been shown everything under the sun by these venues: “every type of sexual act”. Indeed.

This is not the time to play games or act dumb when it comes to your children, saints. And you are free to take into account your own weaknesses and lifestyle when designing your own strategies for protecting your children. I have only given you some basic, opportunity-squashing suggestions that we find helpful.

For the rest — because we have no illusions of absolute control — pray! Pray for your children.

May our Father in heaven give you wisdom concerning these things.

Vultures

One laughs, while the other screams praise;

Circling overhead, their motives are the same.

Amanda Jump, 2005

Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

Matthew 24:28

There’s been an uptick in carcasses and vultures lately. Has anyone else noticed?

There once was a man on YouTube, who strongly cautioned saints, diagramed Biblical doctrine, and held a genuine concern for others in his eye and tone. I keep clicking on his videos, but I can’t find that man. Quite predictably, or shockingly (depending on your view of the world), his channel has fallen more and more in line with popular Christian entertainment: satire to the high heavens and haughty heresy roasts. I see a carcass; I see the vultures; but I cannot find that man that once was there…

At the other end of the Christian spectrum, there was once another man on YouTube, who documented dreams and visions and growing concerns regarding an imploding culture. I followed for a time because his passion was endearing, his concerns warranted, but this man too has gone missing. In his place, another self-starter pastor lighting his own fires, body-snatching, has formed. He has grown beyond confident now; he is self-assured — his visions now valued as gold in his own eyes. And I see the carcass, and I see the vultures, but my eyes turn away…

I think of the carcasses I could dress up and sell, of which I have no shortage; but then I think of the ways of the Master and remember that no number of vultures clamoring after me is worth blanching and selling my soul.

I am no one, but I have one increasing concern for the saints in these times…

Both of these men are pre-tribbers, and, for whatever reason, this tends to lend itself to some strange sort of wicked arrogance they try to pass off as ‘faith’; and, I can’t help but wonder, what if they’re wrong? — What will they do if they are wrong? What deceptions are they opening themselves up to?

Well, pride comes before a fall, I’ve heard — and certainly felt in my own life. Whether pre-trib or post-trib or whatever doctrine one holds about the end times, I think the contestable nature of these doctrines alone should be reason enough to hold a loose grip on end times theory and a much tighter grip on the Unchanging Father’s hand.

The ‘I won’t worry about it because I won’t be here’ mindset is poison, if not deception itself.

Mercies

I was reminded of one of my favorite hymns this morning at church: His Mercy Is More, by Sovereign Grace Music. I’m slightly partial to any song that can manage the word ‘lavished’; it’s a lovely tune… and it reminded me of this post I’ve been meaning to write for several days now.

What does “His mercies are new every morning” mean to you (Lamentations 3:22-23)? Or “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6)?

It’s obvious, right?

I read these verses, take a deep breath, and think, “Yes, I should be more merciful towards” — whomever the target of my wrath, pity, or disdain is that week.

We read the Bible for us, not others — right? Every pastor I’ve ever heard says so. So, I took the brunt of these verses and applied them from the inside-out: I needed to be more merciful. And, true enough, I wouldn’t advise reading them only to think of someone else’s lack thereof (of mercy). That never does us any good.

Still, on a very blue Tuesday that felt like a Monday, while begrudging the sight of yet more dross in my life finally surfacing, I realized I had been missing one very important feature of these verses —

Namely, that it was God’s mercy in spotlight and that I desperately needed them to be new — for me.

There was no song or dance to slay, no epic prayer-poem to recite, no amount of self-berating or self-pity I could offer upon the altar of my existence to please God. He knew the sin; I knew the sin. It had floated all the way to the top under pressure, and I had already repented… but I still felt bad. And I knew it had to go, but I also knew I couldn’t remove it alone; it was too heavy for me.

What then?

It was then that these verses came back to mind by the Spirit of Grace, and I remembered that I too was an object of God’s mercy, in need of that mercy every day. No more or less on a blue Tuesday than on a sunshiny Sunday.

His mercies were new for me.

His heart desired mercy for me.

And He desires it for you.

We can only extend our arms to receive God’s divine mercies upon our souls after we have let go of that other thing we were holding (sin). Mercy is not getting away with something; mercy is the full pardon God extends to us after we repent and realize that we fully deserved the mess we found ourselves lying in — like the prodigal.

Mercy is being able to go home to the Father after you blew it. Mercy is the Father looking you in the eyes afterwards and still seeing a son or daughter — not just a scoundrel or sinner. Mercy is a grace true repentance won’t trample underfoot…

It wouldn’t dare.

Because in repentance we remember that mercy is the lifeblood of Jesus’ sacrifice and the heartbeat of our Father.

Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think one deserves to be punished who has trampled on the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 

Hebrews 10:28-29

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…

John 3:16

When you repent, receive His mercies. They are for you (too) in Christ Jesus.

Cities Grow Towers

As the present global agenda for ‘oneness’ and ‘unity’ seems manic with a fever to Build Back [Babel] Better, I found this ‘visit’ with a friend timely, informative, and a helpful aid in re-framing my literal self-in-relation-to-the-world view as a Christian. It is with the hope that something here may prove insightful or helpful to you that I share the thoughts, research, and perspectives of a friend regarding towers, nations, and our world’s history…

And thanks for letting me share this, Chester!

God bless –

Guest Post by Chester Truett

I want to visit with you about a small obscure story from Genesis that is rarely discussed or understood, but has most likely a very significant influence on the fact that you and I are here, living in the United States of America today.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 

And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 

And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 

And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 

Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 

So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 

Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Genesis 11:1-9 [ESV]

Let’s address some reasons for the Tower of Babel. Some have supposed it was a tower of safety in case of another flood. I disagree. The covenant of the rainbow that the Lord gave Noah says, ‘Never again another flood’. It doesn’t make good sense that they were building on the plain of Shinar, the first place to be flooded. If it were for protection, then it should have been built on Mount Ararat where the Ark came to rest. And besides, no man-made ground structure could survive a global flood.

In my opinion, it was in defiance to the command of God, which was given in Genesis 9:1, to Noah, which reads, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.'” It was the ‘filling of the earth’ that did not set well with them. The tower builders stated they wanted ‘to make a name for themselves’. National pride. Take note of those words. “Look at what we have accomplished!” Life in the city was much easier than living in a completely barren land, where you had to be a farmer, like Noah, or a herdsman, to survive.

So when was the Tower of Babel built? Reading in Genesis 10:21 & 25, we find that it occurred four generations down from Noah, after the flood. A grandson of Shem was Peleg. It says in verse 25 that two sons were born to Eber (son of Shem) and one of them was Peleg, for in his days, the earth was divided. In this verse, the word ‘divided’ refers to the scattering of people.

The time factor has been estimated to be 106 years after the flood, by chronologist James Ussher. For God to reach a defiant people seems to be a hopeless cause. Just 100 years earlier the whole earth and every living creature was destroyed by God’s judgment upon evil, and now we find again, disobedience to God’s command to disperse. They wanted to build a city with a tower, high to the sky, so that they could have self-induced pride, saying ‘look what we can do’. It was not just a tower or monument, but by all evidence, as we will find out, a temple in which to worship and/or sacrifice. The question you and I need to ask is ‘worship whom or what?’

The word Babel comes from two words — “gate” (bab) and “God” (El). So we have the word ‘gate of heaven’ or ‘gate of God’. The word Babel came to mean confusion or babble because of what Genesis says happened there.

The Hebrew word ‘tower’, used in this scripture is ‘migdal’ which is a tower or, figuratively, a pyramid shape. This pyramid shape gives support to the idea that the Tower of Babel may have been a pyramid or a ziggurat. Another aspect of the word ‘migdal’ stems from the word ‘gadal’. Likewise, this word ‘gadal’ not only speaks of magnitude, enlargement, and greatness, but also of arrogance, boasting, and pride. A formula we could use is arrogance + boasting + national pride = large towers.

…the Tower of Babel may have been a pyramid or a ziggurat.

So, in theory, when these people were scattered from the Tower of Babel, four generations after the flood, they likely took this building concept with them to places all over the world. They took varying ideas of the tower to their new lands and began building projects of their own. Ziggurats, pyramids, and mounds, and so forth, have been found in many parts of the world, such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, South America, China; and in North America we have the ancient Mississippian Mounds.

Where was the original tower built? Scripture says, the plain of Shinar, which is between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the current country of Iraq. This plain also includes the city of Babel, which in the Bible is always called Babylon. It is believed that Babel dated from Nimrod’s kingdom and most likely was the seat of his power, as found in Genesis 10:10.

Nimrod is believed to be a first monarch, since it uses the word ‘kingdom’. This is significant since we now move from a patriarchal system to a monarchy, which tends to put people in bondage under a king.

So, Nimrod was a city builder, just as Cain was a city builder. The Lord put a curse upon Cain after he killed his brother Abel, and he went out and built a city. I want you to underscore the words ‘city builder’ and please note the type of character these fellows were who built the first cities.

So, Nimrod was a city builder, just as Cain was a city builder.

Nothing remains of the Tower of Babel. But as I mentioned, the idea of erecting towers was popular among early Mesopotamians. Practically every city of importance in that area had at least one tower. These towers were called ziggurats. But they were much smaller in scale than the tower of Babel. These ziggurats have a shrine at the top dedicated to the principle ‘god’ of the city or of the land.

Excavators may have found what they believe to be the foundation of the Tower of Babel. There is an ancient cuneiform tablet describing this Tower of Babel. Also the Greek historian Herodotus writes of the tower. We know that it was about 300 feet square and more than 300 feet high. It was built in seven stages, having on its top, the 7th stage, a shrine dedicated to the god Marduk.

My curiosity was aroused as to what this god looked like. One of the exhibits at the Ark Encounter describing the Tower of Babel, shows a creature sitting on a throne at the top of the ziggurat with a snake head. I did a little research online and found a website on Marduk. During the time of Nebuchadnezzar, Marduk was pictured as a striding snake dragon. It had the scaly body of a dragon, the head of a snake, hind feet with claws like a bird of prey, and front paws of a lion, with the tail of a deadly scorpion.

http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/marduk/

The website asks the question, ‘Could Marduk, the principle deity of Babylon, have been the serpent, in form, in the scriptures which appeared to Eve in the Garden of Eden, and appears again in Revelation 20 as the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who is bound for a thousand years?’ With this information, it may be easier to understand why the Lord exercised His resentment against the building of a city and a tower, which would be a symbol of arrogance and pride and defiance to Him. So the Lord intervenes and confuses the language of these people, a people who say, ‘See what we can do by building a city and a tower that will give us greatness.’

Who were they worshiping?

Dispersion

There are over 6,900 languages in the world today. Yet the number of languages emerging from Babel at the time of dispersion, researchers say, would likely have been less than 100, based on family genealogy and dispersion. Family groups could have shared the same language, since the dispersion away from Babel went with family names, such as the regions being named after the sons of Japheth, Ham, and Shem… for example, Gomar, Canaan, Asshur.

https://religion.wikia.org/wiki/Sons_of_Noah

The dispersement went far and wide. For instance, early Irish genealogy traces from Noah through Japheth and Japheth’s son Magog, forming the descendants of the Irish. The same would be true of other European nations, tracing from Noah, through Japheth and his sons. This was also interesting… the Chinese records describe ancestors as ‘Nuah’ with three sons, Lo Han, Lo Shen, and Jah Phu.

We may ask how, if there were fewer than 100 original family languages, could we now have 6,900? Well, for one thing, 4000 years have passed, and families and people groups have multiplied and intermingled. Just in the U.S., look at the different people groups coming into our country, where English is the foundational language. This intermingling gives us dialects and accents, which even for us, can be hard to understand, even though it is spoken in English. Mild forms being the Brooklyn accent, the southern drawl, or Cajun accents.

A comparison was made from AnswersinGenesis.org under the Tower of Babel, on the change in just the English language over the last thousand years. Look at the scripture verse in Matthew 6:9, which is the Lord’s Prayer, as we date backwards in time:

Modern English: Our Father who is in heaven…

Late modern English (1700-2000): Our Father Who art in heaven

Early Modern English (1500-1700): Our Father which art in heaven

Middle English (1100-1500): Our Fader that art in Heuenis…

Old English (AD 1000): Faeder ure bu be eart on Heofonum…

From Proud to Defiant

I have given you a lot of information so I better summarize and maybe draw some conclusions.

It is very disappointing to find that within four generations the Lord again had to intervene to discipline a very defiant people. So how do a people become hardened, not respecting the God of the universe who gives and sustains life, and has the ability to destroy life?

Let’s do a multiple choice that considers how these people became so defiant.

A. Could it be they never heard of a Creator God, who had judged evil by destroying the earth?

I say, no. You would have to believe the story of Noah and the ark was passed down to sons and grandsons and great-grandsons, and, if so desired, there could be visits made to the ark on Mount Ararat for the doubters.

B. Could it be they feared for their safety if they should leave the city or settlement? If so, fear of what?… beasts or violent people?

There were probably not a lot of people living outside the settlement. As far as the beasts, God told Noah when they left the ark (Genesis 9:2), “…and the fear of you and the terror of you shall be on every beast of the earth.” The beasts were hunted for clothing and food.

C. Were the people taking advantage of the rainbow covenant, or were they presuming upon God’s mercy and not afraid of any consequences from their self-serving behavior?

That is a possibility or a reason for defiance.

D. Could it be that life was much less stressful and easier living in a settlement or city? One could be lazy and depend upon someone else to make more easily accessible such things as food, water, shelter, and clothing. The night-life was more exciting, such as wine, women, and song, than living out on the prairies out under the stars, or on Mount Ararat.

Yes, I believe this could be another reason for defiance.

The thought of having to provide your own food, get your own water, and provide your own shelter can be a hardship. In the city, someone else did your thinking for you. You could worship as dictated by the leadership, all needs were met in the city, strong leadership would eliminate the need to think and make decisions. This removed many of the stresses of life. Protection and security would seem to exist there. 911 would be just a scream away. I feel this might be one reason why the post-flood people did not want to spread out into the earth.

E. Did the Devil make them do it?

Yes. We have already witnessed how the devil or serpent deceives and lures the people to disobey the Lord.

Let’s set parallel the following passage with our subject. In this passage the Lord is speaking of Lucifer through Isaiah:

How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the Dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of seemly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the most High.’

Isaiah 14:12-14

Does this sound a little bit like Genesis 11:4, when the people said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city and a tower, whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name“?

Do I dare say ‘Devil-designed thinking’?

Back to Building…

I want to go back to city building and review a little about the first builders. Pre-flood Cain, who was a murderer, decided that the Lord’s judgment upon him was too harsh. The ground was cursed. He was to be a vagrant and a wanderer on earth. So as he had offspring, he built a city — I would assume, to have his needs provided, security from hardship, and protection from being killed.

My guess is that society could deteriorate quite rapidly when a person like Cain is the mayor of a city. Remember, this is pre-flood.

Then there is Nimrod, a grandson of Ham. Most Bible translators are kind to him, but let’s read Genesis 10:8-11:

Now Cush became the father of Nimrod, he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, ‘Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.’ At the beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erich and Accad and Calney, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah… (and other cities)…

We remember from the Book of Jonah that Nineveh, built by Nimrod, was a wicked city.

One commentary I read, says that the phrase ‘a mighty one on the earth’ can also refer to a tyrant. The phrase ‘before the Lord’ as translated in the Greek translation of the Bible reads ‘against the Lord’. It becomes apparent from Bible history that this man did not serve the Lord. He evidently moved the existing society from a patriarchal society to becoming a monarchy in which he was evidently king, starting with Babel.

Another Bible commentary that I was reading went so far as to say the Tower of Babel was designed as a monument to apostasy, a citadel of rebellion against God. This was but the first step in an evil master plan to control the world.

Ok, But What About Today?

Here we are, 4000 years later, and Satan is still working on that design to control the world. If it weren’t for the restraining power of God and His intervention from time to time in the course of earth’s history, evil men under the direction of Satan would take total control of society and place people in total bondage. Maybe we aren’t far from the scale’s tipping point today…

It is my personal feeling that from what I see and hear in our society today, I can draw the conclusion that it is not the Lord’s will that people congregate in cities. Notice, I did not say villages or towns. I believe the qualifier is “Let us build this city and tower so as to make a name for ourselves” — where self is exalted above God.

Perhaps, I have a bias against big cities. I grew up on a farm and farmed for 30 years. I have lived in cities 12 years of my life and, of course, visited enough large cities to know that most, if not all, like to take pride in how they look and what they can offer their residents and visitors. It appears to me that the bigger city leaders seem to believe that it is wonderful that they can grow larger and larger. Power, prestige, and revenue.

Nashville has been growing at the rate of approximately 100 people per day (likely more this past year!). Take 100 times 365 days in a year and that equals 36,500 people per year. That would be equivalent to adding a city the size of Sumter, South Carolina to Nashville every year. Or like adding 30 towns the size of Banner Elk, North Carolina, every year. The country western culture, the history of Nashville, is gone, I believe. Downtown Nashville has several towers, which is a sign of prosperity, right?

What kinds of problems are presented with this kind of growth? Infrastructure cannot keep up with the demands or needs. Schools and hospitals are overcrowded, crime is on the rise, law enforcement cannot keep up, housing is short, traffic is congested, taxes and housing prices go through the roof.

The Other Tower

On September 11, 2001, we were attacked in New York City by an enemy called Al- Qaeda, a radical Islamic terrorist group. Two of our nation’s tallest towers burned and collapsed. In fact, the Word Trade Center building was the tallest in the world until September 11, 2001. If the World Trade Center was a symbol of America’s economic and financial preeminence, then what would it’s collapse symbolize?

Could it be that the twin towers of the World Trade Center were two edifices symbolizing a god that our nation worshiped?

This tower concept of building bigger and better and higher may seem a little foolish by those of us living out here on the prairie, where we think it is wonderful if we can just keep a roof on a building.

Many know by now that our nation constructed an elaborate memorial to the Twin Towers and the lives that were lost there. But some may not be aware that a new tower has been built. The new tower was first called the Freedom Tower, but now it is called the One World Trade Center. It was completed after 13 years of planning and building, at the cost of $3.9 billion, which was twice over projected budget. It stands 1776 feet high, to coincide with the year of America’s independence. It is 104 stories, making it the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere. It was planned from the beginning to be the tallest building on earth, but, before it was completed, other towers ascended to greater heights.

Concluding Thoughts

An Old Testament scripture from Isaiah 9:10 seems to be a hinge point for Israel and the United States regarding the corporate attitude of national pride. Jonathan Cahn spends a great deal of time discussing three parallels of tower building and national pride connected to God’s Jubilee calendar in his book The Mystery of the Shemitah. If what I have said today interests you, I suggest that you get a copy.

Isaiah 9:8-10 was quoted by Senator Tom Daschel of South Dakota right after 9/11:

The Lord has sent a message against Jacob. It will fall on Israel. All the people will know it. Ephriam and the inhabitants of Samaria who say with pride and arrogance of heart, ‘the bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stone. The sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.’

It is very interesting that the translation of the Hebrew to Greek, called the Septuagint Bible, records Isaiah 9:10 as follows:

The bricks are fallen down, but come, and let us build for ourselves a tower.

Let’s read again Genesis 11:4:

Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that we make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

I can’t believe the news that comes out of our cities, such as the setting up of sanctuary cities to protect lawbreakers and the implementing of gay and transgender rights. Cities are breeding grounds for crime, immorality, and corruption. The news is full of these things happening continually… the murders, political corruption, theft, and immorality all legislated. Protests and riots and the tearing down of statues that represent our nation’s history. We also see the devastation in concentrated areas when floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes happen.

When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?

Amos 3:6

Remember when Abraham and Lot came to the parting of ways due to the size of their herds? Lot chose the valley of Jordan where Sodom and Gomorrah were located. He settled in Sodom. You know the rest of the story — that these cities were so wicked the Lord destroyed them. Lot and his family had to be led out by angels. Mrs. Lot did not fare so well when she looked back.

People have flocked to cities where there are good paying jobs; they live the good life, have good schools, and culture. Some may ask, wasn’t Jerusalem a city, where the temple of God existed? Yes, and because of rebellion and rejection of Christ, the city was finally destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. Jesus expressed his sorrow over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:7. He said, “Your house will be left unto you desolate.”

But you may ask, “Don’t we have all those churches in the city so we can win people to Christ?” That may be a fair question, but then so is this old question: If you place the righteous and the wicked in close confinement, who is going to influence who?

Which one wins people over to their side?

I find it alarming that most mainline city churches are closing the Bible and opening their doors to all kinds of secular means in order to gain members. We all have family and friends who live in big cities. All we can do is pray that the Lord will lead them out by circumstance and conviction.

The name Babylon has been equated to confusion of languages, but it is also equated to spiritual confusion. Have our churches fallen into spiritual confusion, such as the watering down of the Gospel, because of the worldly influence coming from our cities, which dictate influence by power in numbers, gaining voice through social media? The cities, being high population centers, set agendas for the states in which they are located. They determine whether the state is ‘red’ or ‘blue’, conservative or liberal.

As an example, through the last oil boom, North Dakota received a windfall of revenue through the oil extraction taxes. The western counties, where the oil was in production, had enormous needs due to the traffic and people coming here to work. Roads needed repair. Communities faced sewer, water, and housing deficiencies. Law enforcement was overwhelmed. But guess who received the largest portion of this revenue? Large cities like Fargo and Bismarck.

Cities, because of the large population, have greater representation in the legislature. Cities control our society, whether we like it. They popularize or spearhead fashion ideas, entertainment, value trends, morality; they are travel hubs, hoard supplies and materials, house governmental centers, and, of course, religious denominational headquarters, which set the spiritual level for the churches. These centers are the vocal voting majority.

The scripture from Matthew 4:8 tells us about when Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness, and He was tempted by the Devil.

Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’

Matthew 4:8

The devil claims ownership of the kingdoms, which includes the cities and all their splendor.

Revelation 21:1-8 describes a time in the future when a new Jerusalem will come down to earth from heaven, the city in which God will dwell with His people.

Let us pray for our nation and our leaders, let us pray for our families and ourselves, that Jesus Christ will help us remove the towers of arrogance and pride from our hearts.

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

Psalm 127:1

Amen.

Hurricane Skies

Winter approaches. He’s left his calling card hung overhead as evening grey clouds roll in; he whispers against our cheeks, making them blush red. Like a hurricane in the sky, he funnels the sun away, as he encompasses its eye. I know he will soon close the eye with a shuttering wind.

And there’s something familiar enough in his coming that makes me welcome him, even when it is with trepidation —

Am I ready?

Have I prepared?

Will I make it ’til next spring?

How can one who brings death make me feel so alive? When my world deafens with silence, and all life but the rabbits’ seems to hush and still, is it then that I finally listen? Is it then that I hear myself breathing loudest in my own ears? — Exhaling under pressure:

I

am

here.

The sun is somewhere above, and we know it, but he is hidden away from our eyes. Why did he let the clouds roll in, coil up, and strike the heels of summer and warm blood, chasing all feeling away from our fingers, freezing our eyes in slow motion? Will his eye appear again to gently crown the leafless apple tree with life again?

And there’s something certain about his coming that makes me welcome his thoughts, even though it is not without trepidation —

Will the dove return?

Will the flooding darkness end?

Will I endure?

How can one who brings daily death make me feel so alive? When my world deafens with silence, and all life but my own stampeding heartbeat seems to hush and still, is it then that I finally listen? Is it only then that I hear him breathing loudest in my ears? –– Whispering:

I

Am

here —

Hurricane Skies.

The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

Nahum 1:3

What Boast.

Boasting comes as naturally to human flesh as mold comes to spoiled food — and twice as fast.

Boasting comes in many forms, doesn’t it…

There are the earthy boasts of our pride in living, which amount to little more than vanity of person, figure (appearance), accumulation, or reputation; our pride in perceiving life’s lessons, i.e., self-flattering intellect, prowess, or reservation; and the gross pride in our own vices, the often grotesque, unbecoming, and crass nature of flaunting something because it is taboo or frowned upon or because we have otherwise made a singular behavior our personal identity.

Then, if we conquer these former things, there are the wispier breathy boasts of surreptitious pride in our pure motives, vainly flattering our subscript sincerity, good intentions, or superior horizons; pride in clean and orderly goals, which covertly covers little more than the reflective surfaces of competition, covetousness, or self-righteousness; and pride in our own efforts, be they the efforts of correctly parsing jots and tittles for (false) salvific purposes or the efforts of a superstitious religion which pretends to walk on water but loses Jesus for watering down His words.

Many will say they are boasting in what God has given them — err, that they have the right to boast about their gifts or status while propped up by God’s good bounty. Others will claim that they boast in God’s favor and power and calling, erring also while propped up by upper-class illusions, identities, and comforts they mistook for God and godliness, while reprimanding the Ezekiels for poor dress and chastising the Jeremiahs for such a heavy yoke…

Indeed, boasting of comfy seat cushions is not beneath me, even if it was in jest.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).

Boasting is rarely winsome. In everyone’s boast, someone nearby cringes; it’s far too easy to pick out in others and far too easy to excuse from our own eyes. What distinguishes the boast of the cross of Christ from these other boasts — many of which claim Christ?

Three things set this boast apart from the rest immediately:

1) It is a work already done

2) It is a work wrought for all

3) It is a work that none of us could do

So that we cannot boast of the cross of Christ (and its good wellness for our souls) as in any way being something that we attained or accomplished or apprehended or ascended to of our own will, effort, or goodness. The cross of Christ was all God’s idea, God’s effort, God’s goodness, and God’s grace. That is the work — God’s work ON THE CROSS — in which, as Christians, we may boast!

When we boast in things that are circumstantial, a right of birth place, order, or sex; status, position, education, knowledge, or boot-strapping, we boast in ourselves and of our own (or others’) works, not Christ’s.

Some, like me, were blessed circumstantially to have been born in the United States of America. We strive, however, to make Christ’s work our only boast because at the end of the day His work is the only boast that stands in our Father’s eyes. Only the cross of Christ can separate me from the most damnable sinner — here or anywhere else in the world.

Is there then anything else in which we truly have right to boast? All that we have comes from our Father, our Creator, Who freely gives…

If we boast any identity, let it be this.

Bitters That Bring Peace

“Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but you have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.”

Isaiah 38:17

There is a homeopathic quote I’ve recently learned: Bitter can make you better… and so is sometimes the case spiritually as well, if we know He who is the Prince of Peace.

This passage was part of King Hezekiah’s praise testimony after receiving 15 added years from the Lord while pleading on his death bed. It was not just in pleading with God that Hezekiah gained the Lord’s ear; we are told here that it was also through repentance. Indeed, how does one plead with the Lord without first recalling the ways in which we fail to be worthy of a hearing?

The past ten years of my life could be summed up by that one verse. I pass any encouragement from it to you today. Too often it takes the death bed of circumstances to shake us loose of our worldly passions, self-righteous toil, and self-imposed ‘standards’ or superstitions — all sin — and so it seems every seed must “fall into the ground and die” to bear fruit (John 12:24)…

Indeed, He knows us better than we know ourselves; how can we fully discern our own errors (Psalm 19:12)? He alone knows the paths we must take for healing. For by bitter waterways He has led me to still waters; through passages of humiliation, suffering, and repentance, He has turned the pit of corruption inside-out into a staircase of glory-to-glory, removing my shame as He lifts my head, as my Head (Psalm 3:3; Isaiah 54:5).

How good it is for a soul to taste of bitterness if it comes from Him! By it He has trained and led many into Hezekiah’s humility and repentance. For when He puts our sins behind us, who can recount them and impute guilt? Where once was bitterness of soul before repentance, we turn to find the marks of a faithful and compassionate Redeemer working all the while on our behalf for peace — for reconciliation with God’s heart and God’s ways.