Put Your Finger Here

The hardness of the ground, dotted with half-buried pebbles, seems so certain beneath my boots — without give, without doubt, without mercy. As the sun sweetly smacks my cheek and cracks my face open into a smile, that same old toying wind winds its way in one ear and out the other: What if you’re wrong?

I know the Bible says that Jesus was “tempted in every way” common to mankind, yet it’s hard to imagine this one. Was He ever tempted to doubt that His Father existed? Was He ever tempted to forget His origins, His eternal beginnings? It seems common enough, but that’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

But not so hard for me; I’ve been there. Wasn’t it just yesterday?

Distinction Not Separation

Christianity deals in a lot of abstract ideals. Whether we’re talking about praise as warfare, prayer as power, faith as righteousness, or the inner man being renewed as our outer man perishes — make no mistake: Christianity is a heady faith. “Only believe,” Jesus said (Mark 5:36). And, often, those who’ve learned to salt and slay with these abstract mono-isms oversimplify the spiritual and speak in pharisaical lines between the spirit and the flesh.

Have you noticed the shift in the media-airs recently? (Hang with me. We’ll tie this all together in my abstractly concrete way.) Oh, it’s so familiar… like gaslighting the masses. It’s so great — from a purely sociological standpoint. Worthy of observation in the future textbooks, surely. Suddenly, as if out of thin air, even the ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ are crying foul on all sorts of things that republicans and others have been screaming about for a year already…

We’re tired of the pandemic too, the democrats wane into whining… (As if one can simply decide such things with a virus; you can’t, of course — unless it’s been a charade all along. Oh my. [Real illness; a charade of handling, I mean.])

We made a mistake with Biden, some now admit… (There’s rumors of all sorts of ways they might disappear him out of the way [of approval ratings] floating about now.)

I’ve heard the “legacy media” has even reported one or two things accurately lately… (Well, I am biased; full admission here. Call it ‘expert’ issues if you want, but there’s more evidence in favor of my view — mankind being generally wicked no matter his alphabet soup knowledge — than there is in the terrible, no good, very bad belief that people — and especially smart people — are basically good… Jolly Jupiter just rolled my eyes back down to me; thanks, Jove!)

The useful social abstractions used to sell these former things have lost their usefulness, apparently.

Salt and slay-speak loses something when one finds themselves walking across brutally hard ground.

When you refuse an operation and opt for faith and someone still dies, the abstract falls apart like me trying to do a card trick.

When you shun the very idea of divorce and embrace the hard shards of showing mercy and, later, still end up betrayed and divorced, the abstract provides the poison now linked to your body like an I.V. by the embedded shards.

When you choose to rejoice and get your praise on because you think the rapture is coming ANY. SECOND. NOW., and, suddenly, the media be gaslighting you like there will be a tomorrow after all, the abstract begins to disintegrate your faith because YOU. WERE. CERTAIN… weren’t you?

When you dance and praise and shout down the heavens, name and proclaim and declare all that your heart desires to see, and the hard pavement of Monday morning slaps you back down to mortal size the next day, the abstract suddenly looks silly in retrospect; you wonder what you were thinking, really…

The ground is so hard here that it makes a hard thunk under my boots as I wear a circle around our local playground. It seems so sure a foundation — no give, no doubt, no mercy. If I keep walking, it will still be there beneath my feet; if I give up and lay down upon it, it will still be there with me too; if I begrudge it and fly away to the moon, I’ll still never forget the first time I fell hard against it, robbed of air.

I smile.

I’ve been here before, remember…

And I remember that the physical world is only distinct from the spiritual one, but it is not separate from it.

If I trace the physical roots of the earth back far enough, I soon encounter the abstract absolute: Nothing exits apart from Him, our Creator.

Am I mud or breath? Rib or spirit?

Are we not both?

Whether within the abstracts of worship or the definite of a hike, God’s world and word does not change. And neither does our bodily connection to eternal things.

By faith we understand that the world has been created by the word of God so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible.

Hebrews 11:3

But if that which is seen was made from that which is unseen, then that which is unseen is the greater.

Son of God & Son of Man

Too often we let what we see, the hard certainties of our earthly existence, spoil, deny, or distort what God has told us about His kingdom and our being in Him.

…for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

Acts 17:28

Nonetheless, it is true that some take this connection and run violently.

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.

Matthew 11:12

There are differing views on this verse, but I’ve seen enough of spiritually-askew folks to be convinced that it holds a negative connotation (as some suggest). Violent people raid spiritual principles for their own glory and purposes. It makes them a lot of money; it increases their fame. But it is a form of violence against God — is it not?

You cannot separate the physical from the spiritual, though they are distinct from one another. But there is only One Name by which mankind can be saved. That name is Jesus — not spirituality, social justice, signs or wonders, doctrine, safety first, happiness, excellence, peace and affluence, comfortability, a way that seems right to me, the right politics, the right clothing, the right-speak, universal transcendence, government programs, churchianity, the right worldview, your personal pronouns, or by doing as your told (or not).

Only one name: JESUS.

And only one way: FAITH.

The Offspring of God made flesh. Might we say the Spirit clothed in Flesh? The God-man: distinct but not separate the Son of God and the Son of Man.

Salting the Body

For some time, my own growth was stunted beneath the belief that the physical and spiritual worlds were separate things under the premise of Paul’s talks concerning the flesh and the spirit. That is not how he argued it, but that is how I heard it.

You are either of the flesh or of the spirit, I heard, but only under perfect conditions do both ever align…

Sounds like a cool New Age-ism to me. They’ll teach you that you’re only a few mindful breaths and held poses away from this meaningful connection. Well, in short, they’ll tell you there are ways other than faith in Jesus to accomplish such body-soul alignments — right? (I know I’m right; I’ve heard their rhetoric.)

Anyone who has been to a chiropractor knows the value of a good alignment.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

When dealing in abstracts it’s too easy to fall, like a trapeze artist, into the snare of mental ascent. This is made easier by our American lifestyles and freedoms thus far.

Everything is awesome and you could be awesome too if you’d just salt and slay like me.

– Every mid-to-upper class christian with a sense of earned accomplishment ever

If she look the right way, then she’ll know the right things…

Jackie Hill Perry, Educated Fool

But the truth is that, as God’s child, in Christ, you are already a new creation. Is this not for your spirit, soul, and body?

By the spirit, you’ve been “seated with Christ in heaven” (Eph. 2:6)…

By the spirit, “your flesh was crucified” (Gal. 5:24)…

By the spirit, your life is “now hidden with Christ” (Col. 3:3)…

If you are in Christ, dear one, you’ve already been re-aligned. If you’re waiting on anything it’s that “reasonable service” part quoted above in Romans 1.

God bless the day I realized that flesh and spirit were distinct but not separated in service unto God! That is the day that I found just as much joy in helping a child with spelling as I did in the spiritual ecstasy of alone time; the same day I discovered as much grace in my eating habits as in my praise habits; the same blessed day that I realized God loved me no less when I stared out of my kitchen window crying tears with the rain than when I was on my knees in prayer, dancing to retro tunes with my children, or dutifully taking lunch to my husband.

Present your bodies… as holy and acceptable gifts upon the altar of faith.

When we deal only in abstracts, we tend to 1) neglect bodily matters such as self-discipline or 2) pretend we have no sin by whitewashing everything.

When we deal only in fleshly affairs, we tend to 1) deny the spiritual and unseen or 2) find ways to abuse the spiritual (and fleshly) for our purposes.

Neither is pretty in the end. Neither is faith in Christ.

Northern air is dry. Insanely dry. I repotted my oxalis and left it by the window this winter, but the dirt was soon as hard as rock and my plant shriveled and died.

I keep interchanging my finger between the wind of social currents and the Word of God to discern what is the season. That air is dry too; it’s like a dead lead. The Word of God is hard, line upon line; sometimes I shrivel and my heart falls as dead when He speaks.

“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to [another] people who will produce the fruit of it. And he who falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces; but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was talking about them.

Matthew 21:23-25

You will fall upon this hard earth or fall upon the Stone: either way, there will be pain…

But how much better to be broken and remade by the Master than to declare oneself a king upon this hard, unmerciful earth!

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

hebrews 4:14-16

Eleven little baby oxalis shoots now wave their wee tri-folded heads towards the evening sun as it drenches through the west-facing window of my dining room. They weren’t there before; I couldn’t see them beneath the hardened dirt. Still, they rose.

How can something so simple, so fragile, just doing what it was made to do bring me so much joy? I think I love this plant most for its very sensitive alignment towards the sun. No matter which way I turn the pot, the shoots align themselves towards the sun.

No matter which way the world’s affairs turn, we should align ourselves with the Son.

The social current, like the pot, is moot really. We come, we go, as spiritually-driven physical contractions befall the world, up and down — but increasing in intensity and timing. Still, one thing remains: We’ve already sold it all — remember? — to secure that treasure hidden in a field…

Is it abstract or concrete?

Yes.

Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”

John 20:27

I Can Save The World With A Single Word, A Single Word…

The first time I heard and saw Flobots’ Handlebars, years ago, left me breathless (both videos) in the audio-wake of its perfect social commentary. Because it’s hard to see the children of yesterday or today as present-day terrorists, conspirators, and world despots. Because we want to believe the best of them — even the ones who began by boasting that they “could ride a bike with no handlebars”. The singing commentary leads you through the progression — from handlebars to holocaust — and tramples your heart and best beliefs in the process. But it hurts because it’s all true.

Do you ever sit and hang your head and wonder how to stop the world from being torn apart in modern-day colliders built by men rooted to wickedness — their money-eyed green leaves flashing their successes at the top like shady towers overhead? How often have you wished to scoop up those left out in the cold beneath the limbs of their warfare?

The more I learn, the more I find my own head in my hands and my own heart bent over in prayer: God… help us. How I would end corruption, exposing all the works of wickedness. How much I desire to heal the hurting, to be there before every suicide, before every killing, to plug the holes with my own fingers and set back time; to hug the lost and pull them away from the edge; to provide for the orphan and widow. How much and how many of us wish we could love the whole world beyond its hurts? The world is bleeding out in every direction addicted to cutting.

Even in my desire to fix the world, and especially in the despair of feeling it is beyond fixing, I return to God’s own heart in remembrance:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Matthew 23:37

He could heal the world with a single word… but some loved darkness more than light (John 3). Jesus is that Word.

Christ’s work could have accomplished all of these things. His quest was in love, through love, by Love’s command; His goal was the way of reconciliation for mankind to their Creator… but they would not.

If Christ’s perfect work and mission was rejected by many, we must know that even our noblest imperfect works will be ridiculed and rejected as well. The world is a big place. There are a thousand noble missions worth the doing and, once done, a thousand more appear in their place.

The GREATEST work, however, was already done on behalf of this world, on behalf of every soul. And the One “necessary” thing won’t be taken from anyone gathering beneath His wings now (Luke 10:42)… but we can’t save the world.

Jesus already tried that.

Some refuse to be saved by His way. Was it any different in Noah’s day?

Let me say it again: We cannot save the world.

But we can gather.

All the more.

As we see the day drawing near…

There are things to do (read your Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth text), but anyone under the impression that the world can be saved has forgotten that God already tried that — and if they would not all gather unto Him, do you really think you can save the world with your optimistic, declarative, or pacifying words? Not a chance.

I can save the world with a single word, a single Word… but it would not be saved. Call it fate or free will but that’s our reality. From a single command to a single Sacrifice, Eden’s garden to the midnight garden, all of this time passed is the Creator’s patience… and oh what patience!

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!

For what good is the day of the Lord to you?

It will be darkness, and not light.

It will be as though a man fled from a lion,

And a bear met him!

Or as though he went into the house,

Leaned his hand on the wall,

And a serpent bit him!

Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light?

Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?

Amos 5:18-20

And oh what terror (for some) and glory (for others) awaits when that patience ends…

Therefore, be sober and alert. There won’t be handlebars where we’re headed.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.


James 1:27

Hive Mind: A Counterfeit

…You once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience…

Ephesians 2:2 NKJV

HIVE MIND

META-CONSCIOUSNESS

CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS

MINDFULNESS

VIRTUAL REALITY

What is this strange battle for your mind presently tipping our world at a furiously fast clip? And have you even noticed?

Attention I’m not the first to note — is now the currency of the realm.

UNIFORM COLLECTIVITY

SOLIDARITY

COLLECTIVE KNOWLEDGE

AN INTERNET OF MINDS

UNITY

Where there is no absolute, the society becomes the absolute.

Francis schaeffer, how should we then live? (episode 9)

The ‘prince of the power of the air’ has always been hard at work, but — and like so many under his sway — it seems he is doubling down lately.

You recall the story of the Tower of Babel, of course. Perhaps you’ve also noticed that the language barriers of our world have been pretty well dismantled (in one way or another) over the past fifty years or so — and more-so every day.

And the LORD said, “If they have begun to do this as one people speaking the same language, then nothing they devise will be beyond them. 

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

Genesis 11:6-7

(Us? — Father, Son, & Holy Ghost text. Cool, huh?)

Some want us to practice emptying our minds, to transcend what is emotional and mental and simply feel what is or what we might prefer would be (an escape)…

Some want us to merge as one into a collective consciousness, an internet hive mind free of cords, screens, and limits…

Some want us to strive for a collective unity of mind and transcend our differences and disagreements through ‘christ consciousness’ (no legitimate relation to THE Christ)…

But all of these, without question, have declared war on God:

We can transcend this reality without that Higher Being, they say…

We can be as gods.

It’s a tale as old as time regardless of its newfangled trappings and lingo:

The serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:5-6

I return to this passage far more often than I like, yet it seems increasingly relevant.

But what is all of this anyway? What is this alternative reality to which people are trying to escape?

Some will say it’s for peace…

Others say it is for ultimate productivity…

Still more might espouse unity as their highest regarded ideal…

Some say we can craft our own heaven within this hive mind…

Well, if we can do all of that, who needs God after all?

One Basic Blunder

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:14

Well, here’s your first blunder within these silly and worldly Tower-of-Babel-ly ideas: Light and dark have never played well together.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 3:19

You see, the world will be forced to stomp out all of the little lights who won’t play along in their meta-mind-verse and transgress from the very start their espoused ideals and stated goals.

Unity? Peace? That loving, all-knowing, collective feeling? Not until they get rid of the backwards and anti-Utopian lovers of light (light soon to be renamed darkness in a ‘call good evil and evil good’ fashion, like the 1948 “1984” thing, you know…)!

Oh, you can be sure they’ll make it sound virtuous too. If a middle-schooler can post badly spelled but sanctimonious social soliloquies that influence others, you betcha you can do it too! If Hitler can do it, anyone living in the 4th Industrial Revolution (the battle for your mind) can certainly do that and more! They’ll all agree on it. Well, everyone with the posted mark anyway:

The Posted Mark

(Oh, yes… that other mark too. Ha.)

Down with darkness (light)! Down with darkness (light!) This is 2030 for christ’s sake (they mean Satan, their false savior with his secret knowledge)! Get these archaic obsolete Bible illiterate (Bible adhering) social malcontents (abiding by God’s laws) out of here!

What would it take for you to agree with them?

A guaranteed income and a nice house? Healthcare? That transplant you need? The ability to buy and sell, perhaps? The tramp stamp of approval from those posting the marks of social credibility? A good school for your kids? Food on the table?

I fear many will fall for far less than we currently realize. We have been well-insulated and indoctrinated here in America, saints… I hope I am wrong, however, if 2020-2021 was any indication, the falling away will be worse than imagined. Some were willing to restrict the lives of others over far less last year — with feelings of righteousness and vehemence in ostracizing them.

My how we overestimate human nature! — Ungodly and despicable the lot of them! Without any hope apart from Christ Jesus!

I pray often not to be disqualified after saying such things to you. None of us are exempt from the temptations of the flesh and this worldly life. Not Judas, nor Peter, nor John… and certainly not me. But I aim to peel away my many-layered insulations from the truth as I peel it away for you. It is better that we face the future-scapes of tomorrow today. It gives us a chance to set our face like flint, as so many have done before us. There need not be doubt of future action for the one who honestly assesses his heart today.

Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”

John 21:16

Anyway. The point is that there will be a remnant basically messing things up for everyone. No, they won’t brainwash everyone.

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Matthew 24:24

Hm. Actually, this verse doesn’t exactly make it clear that the elect CAN’T be deceived: It simply says “if possible”… so does that mean it IS possible?

The Mind of Christ

The devil deals in counterfeits and manipulations. As a created being himself, that’s really all he’s got. So, what’s his angle with the mind obsession?

Well, for certain you won’t have the mind of Christ if you’re busy chasing a godless transcendence — in whatever package you prefer.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… who humbled Himself…

Philippians 2:5

Strange. The Son of God humbled himself, took on human form, came as a ‘bondservant’ to redeem all who would receive Him, and obeyed His Father even unto death on our behalf AND YET His own creation persists — from world’s beginning to its end — in boasting and lifting itself up upon godlike narratives, violently insisting upon equality with God (the opposite of humbling, just so we’re clear).

It’s ironic… and about as subtle as a drill bit to tooth. Painfully vain.

The unity of the saints is not the unity of the world. One is a divine gift founded upon the mind of Christ Jesus, His righteousness, humility, and obedience; the other is the devil’s playground founded upon illusions, manipulations, and counterfeit entitlement.

If you have forgotten who this God is who humbled himself, I highly suggest a slow read through Isaiah 40:12-26. It provides a healthy reminder of His stature.

1 Corinthians 2:16 tells the SAINTS (see 1 Cor. 1:2) that they have been given ‘the mind of Christ’. Just as you were given a temporal body capable of walking, talking, and doing all sorts of wondrous things yet were not born with the ability to do them fresh out of the womb, so too you will have to practice living and moving and having your being (existence) held together within the framework (reality) of the mind of Christ. But your current lack of ability does not mean you have not received this gift; indeed, if you are a saint, sanctified by Christ, then you have it already! The question is whether you exercise it…

Faith is the currency of the kingdom of God. It is by faith that we receive salvation through Christ. It is by faith that we are justified. It is by faith that we wear Christ’s righteousness as a garment. It is by faith then also that we receive the mind of Christ.

How do we use it? I can think of no better place to begin than with James’ precious and thoughtful words:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 1:5

The point of the cause of Christ, the point of the mind of Christ is it not to be united and in agreement with our Father? Even as Christ was one with His Father?

But this is not the desire of the world; it is not the desire of those who love the darkness more than the light. The point of their cause is the same as it was back at Babel:

…so that we may make a name for ourselves…

Genesis 11:4

Remember that the Bible was written for those who fear God. When you hear God’s words upon the foreign tongues of the ungodly, remember too that God separated your tongue from theirs (and your heart, mind, and body, etc…) for a reason. The ‘prince of the power of the air’ has no place in Christ.

Let this same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Woe, Deliver Me: The Contractions of the World in the Last Days

Pictured: The first eternal bump, 2011.

I’m not sure we fully understand the tremendous and sweeping effect technological advances have had in our own lives over the last twenty years nor just how in the last days of the ‘in the last days’ that may place us on the spiritual timeline…

Now, it may well be true that ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ — even if that way means you have to feign some visit from an angelic host yourself or start your own sci-fi religion. Nonetheless, I can tell you that finding a serotonin fix for an idealogical itch was not as easy in the 80s, baby, as it is today.

Back then, we knew what the 5 o’clock news fed us or what the front of the newspaper disclosed from around the world, but we did not see the world then as we see it now — in livestream, round-the-clock, 24/7, clips and bites and clicks and professionalized rants.

If you were born after that time, let me repeat again: It was different then! Your good citizen obligations consisted of voting, paying taxes, paying your bills on time, raising respectable kids, and maybe picking up a stranger for church. If social media has made anything abundantly clear it’s that these are no longer your only good citizen obligations! Far from it!

Did you post your black square on social media when they told you to?

Have you pinned that badge around your profile picture yet like they want you to? (You know, the only ones they provide…? You have to do your own artwork if you disagree with the powers-that-be.)

Have you put up some yellow and blue to stand in solidarity and, thus, showcase your support and awareness of world-wide affairs?

Did you include every possible pronoun (made-up and standard), exception, or caveat in that post?

Did you even fact-check that?

Do you even care?!

Slowly, ever-so-patiently, we have been trained like Pavlov’s dogs… with notifications, bells, tweets, likes, and whatever else they’ve come up with now, to run around salivating and foaming at the mouth about everything — everything someone did, didn’t do, said, didn’t say, believes, doesn’t believe, affirmed or didn’t affirm, etc…

Within the last twenty years this passage has been fleshed out. Suddenly, this requires no inconvenience whatsoever.

Have phone? Will scratch itch.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…

2 Timothy 4:3

Dear friends, when you can find a priest or minister to affirm nearly any sin in the book, we have certainly met that time a-coming: It is here.

And that wasn’t always so… so easy.

That should be noted.

We’re way past the 90s chat rooms, baby…

“Accumulate” and the plural “teachers” — both imply that there won’t just be one or two weirdos saying what someone wants to hear (yes, THAT much has always been around) but PLENTY of them to choose from (THAT has not always been) affirming whatever you want. Is that not so now? Have you been on YouTube, Discord, or the internet lately? (If not, take my word for it: they’ve all accumulated.)

Serotonin, which is released by your body when scratched, feels pretty nice by the way. I can hardly resist a good itch; I scratch myself raw because of that addictive stuff. Do you get the picture yet?

Every time a notification dings, a pervert gets its wings…

per·vert verb | pərˈvərt | 

[with object] alter (something) from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended: he was charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice

• lead (someone) away from what is considered right, natural, or acceptable.

Evident-ly

Social media, the 24/7 broadcasting of news and world events, and the pressure found therein to become a ‘global citizen’ has changed us — our nation and the world — for the foreseeable future. Even if all of that were removed today, our heads would be left spinning in its absence for all of the skills, truths, and clarity these things have stealthily stolen. Well, for some anyway…

A lot of Christians know about 2 Timothy 3, but I wonder how many take note that we also live in its day — and that this too has not always been.

Have you read it lately? Let’s look at it again:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Terrible times abound. Some versions read ‘times of great stress’. Endless articles on the uptick in anxiety and stress in our nation alone can confirm.

I’m still not sure what part of ‘last days’ people misconstrue (other than to say that all time since Jesus has been ‘the last days’), but… I truly believe that the WHOLE of these verses, taken together with other passages concerning ‘the last days’, have not been true of the WHOLE of our world population — until now.

Again, have you been on social media lately?

Sadly, as Jesus noted, thoughts of the heart become action. And when they don’t, He classified them just as harshly. What I mean is that much of the vitriol and sin that was once relegated only to pages and walls in bits and screenshots has been leaking into our ‘reality’ over the last few years.

Keyboard warriors have become real murderers (BLM riots).

Self-lovers and loathers online have become real criminals (Jussie Smollett).

Those who claimed they weren’t hurting anyone with their perverted thoughts and private actions have become real stalkers, abusers, and traffickers (Take your pick; they abound).

Nothing stays hidden forever. The thoughts and intents of our hearts become our actions… which is why Jesus’ emphasized the importance of cleaning that little ticker. The devices of man in making our intents easier to accomplish have also made the acting out of our thoughts more abundant.

People are lovers of themselves today to a grossly epic degree. In fact, they love themselves so much that they’ll call abuse towards others loving. The general pedophile doesn’t think he’s harming children; he’ll tell you he’s loving them — as he loves himself.

The distortion and perversion of God’s designs is not a harsh and narrow sermon: It is the wide reality staining many real children’s nightmares.

Lovers of money? Boastful? Proud?

Have I any need to point them out?

Those who love money currently run our Disjointed and Fed-up States. Many motives may be at play, but surely this is one of them.

Dare I point out the ministers and priests who have shushed scandal and abuse and tried to make it go away so that they could keep their pride, reputation, standard of living, income, or title? And if the love of money, boasters, and the proud can be found within the Church, you can bet your rainbow flags and hard-earned paid leave time that these things can be found lurking within Fortune 500 labels, with the credentialed, titled, and well-paid.

Let’s skip ahead and speed up a little:

without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…

It’s true that all of these things have existed within the fabric of human beings for a very, very long time — since the beginning. But after qualifying this passage with ‘in the last days’, Paul also qualifies it by stating that ‘People will be’ these things…

Not some people.

Not wicked people.

Not the most reckless people.

Not criminals or outcasts or degenerates.

No, he simply says “People”. You know, in general…

I’m glad he didn’t put an all in front of that; we’re bad enough off as it is with the general populous brand of ‘People’ acting this way.

Generally, this is all true right now.

It is unquestionably true online. How long, I wonder, before it becomes unquestionably true offline? A few more years? After a civil war? In one or two more generations? Whatever the case, it is not far off…

Truly, we live in the last of ‘the last days’.

And the technology of the past twenty years, to a large degree, has helped usher that in, but I think some of us are so near boiling in the pot that our skin has grown calloused: We no longer recognize just how much has changed and how much we have been molded into the image of Paul’s warnings…

Or, well, perhaps we see it in the world but yet think the Christian bubble around us outnumbers them?

It is doubtful, friend. Again, today ministers of every kind (every denomination now) embrace and affirm EVERY SIN IN THE BIBLE and can be ACCUMULATED too. Oh, and so many of them have pretty ‘forms of religion’!

Are you certain you have not miscounted friend from foe?

All The More

Why did the writer of Hebrews say “and all the more”?

Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 

Hebrews 10:25

That “Day” is regarded as Jesus’ second coming or the Day of the Lord, the Day of Judgment (as I understand it from various commentaries).

Apparently, we will “see” that Day approaching…

It’s not meant to be a secret to God’s kids, even if we can’t know the exact day or hour. I believe we will know the season of His coming; I mean, as with the writer of Hebrews, that we will indeed see it coming. And if we recall Jesus’ rebuke to those among Israel who did not recognize the time of His first coming, this should be no great surprise.

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Have you fallen asleep, friend? Do you think this world will continue to go on as it has before, on and on, and that talk of Jesus’ return is mostly just that? — So far off that it need not concern you today? Or just far enough off that you have time for repentance and holiness later?

Dear saints, “The footsteps of the midwife are already in motion…” (John Mark Mcmillan, Deliver Me)

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

Take note also, dear ones, that technology has finally made Revelation 13 possible.

That capability has not always existed, but it does today, friend.

And the second beast required all people

small and great

rich and poor

free and slave

to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, so that

no one

could buy or sell

unless he had the mark —

the name of the beast or the number of its name…

Revelation 13:16-17

The pandemic of 2020-21 taught us well that all of these things ARE possible already.

So… are you paying attention to the inspired Word of God concerning the times and seasons of ‘the last days’?

Or is that Day just another apocalyptic binge-series you’ve already tuned out?

Stay sane and sober, saints. This is still our Father’s world… but as the world progresses in denial of Him, it will also continue in its hatred of His children.

Jesus already told us so.

The Lion’s Lambs

As the harsh north wind blows the fresh snow and moves it wherever it wills erasing every track, old and new, shall the colder winds of bitterness, anger, frustration, despair, and hopelessness cover over the footsteps of Your every movement in my life, old and new?

When the straight limbs of the heavy winds of hardship are done flailing and thrashing and moving me, will any trace of Your fingerprints remain? When the fresh layers of pain, abuse, and heartache are finally blown clean away or melted, will I find in my heart a foundation of ice or a final resting place — the foundation of You?

Because footprints in the sand are a lovely thought…

Because Your footprints measuring the depths of my circumstances are of some comfort…

But tonight, Lord, I need the unshakeable in my shaking;

I need the unfathomable in my understanding;

I need Your eternal eyes in my mortal eyes’ focus…

Tonight, Lord, I need the Lion… so that I can be a lamb.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

John 21:15

Is This God’s Judgment or A Time To Fight?

Artwork: Gustave Doré, Final Judgment

Recently, I have come to believe that the difference between a Christian pacifist and an activist is found, at root, in the titled question.

Now, this post has emerged from more than one conversation with dear friends as well as my own personal experience. Based on such, I understand the debate to go a little something like this:

If THIS (whatever THIS happens to be at the moment: a virus, a war, a decapitated economy, etc…) is God’s judgment, how then can we justify fighting against God? The only proper recourse to God’s judgment — truly — is repentance. Is it not? This view also holds that indeed wicked leadership may be used to accomplish God’s purpose of judgment.

But if THIS (whatever THIS happens to be at the moment: endless civil divisions, unhindered and applauded immorality under the guise of virtue, the political choking of a nation, etc…) is simply the result of wicked and godless leadership, should we not fight? Is there any time we ought to stop fighting for Godly just and right laws and leadership — regardless of what our nation, what all the nations, deserve?

Both ideas have their Biblical placeholders, and I have observed the course of our world for most of my life in the perspective of the first: Our nation under God’s judgment. Today, I’d like to present an argument challenging that view, however, as it was shared to me by a friend.

Acts of Fallen Humans or Acts of God?

In defense of the second view, we can say that God allows some events to happen that He does not originate. This also can be substantiated from scripture. Many, however, respond to such a statement with the belief that God allows Satan to do harm and evil to humanity and ascribe this permission as God’s retribution or judgment against man’s sin and rebellion.

But does God need fallen angels or sinful man to carry out His sovereignty?

Let’s examine the case of Job.

God placed a hedge of protection around Job and blessed the works of his hands (Job 1:10). God protected him from the accuser, who is Satan, and it was when that protection was removed that suffering and death came upon Job, his family, and even his servants — not from God but from the evil one.

Now, consider how Job is deceived: He believes it is God who has afflicted him.

(Really, I feel I could put a giant SELAH there and the point would be well made!)

God, while conversing with Satan (Job 1:8), calls Job a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil. It is safe to say that Job was born into sin along with all of humanity — right? “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So, at some point, Job has a conversion from unbelief into belief and becomes a target of destructive hate from Satan and his evil agents.

Let’s recap the threads of this story:

We have a blameless and righteous individual, Job;

We have Satan, an accuser and revengeful enemy and destroyer of God’s people;

We have a holy and sovereign God who protects Job’s life but permits a time of severe testing of Job’s faith and loyalty;

And we see Job deceived as to the source of his affliction.

Though we cannot make a perfect parallel here, it may be worth considering our present circumstances in light of Job’s own story.

While we cannot call America blameless nor righteous, it is true that, to some degree, she was founded upon godly principles as a nation. Many who began here were God-fearing men and women seeking to escape persecution elsewhere. So, while the parallel is not perfect, let’s consider the beginning principles of our nation as we seek to uncover our own potential deceptions as well.

Satan remains the accuser and destroyer;

God remains sovereign, perfect in justice, and is the Defender of His own.

Now, we must ask whether we are deceived as to the source of our own afflictions. Is our nation’s present circumstances mere happenstance? Judgment directly from God? Or the battlefield of the destroyer, Satan — who comes to steal, kill, and destroy?

Many sincere Christians believe that we are now living under God’s direct judgment, and that is hard to argue against when considering all of the corruption and evil that has permeated every sector of our society. It would seem to the listening ear and the watching eye that we may have reached the level of Sodom and Gomorrah. Since we don’t have a truth-telling media and since it is biased against Christians, we have to go further behind the scenes to capture a measure of truth…

Is It What It Is?

What percentage of our society are really LGBTQ? The news and entertainment media present these individuals as though they are dominating our society — but are they? Do their numbers even qualify as a minority? Certainly, not all of society is in harmony with the mindset of the LGBTQ community — even when tolerant.

To quote a Biblical picture: Not all have bowed the knee to Baal, as God said to Elijah in I Kings 19:18: “I have kept 7,000 men who have not bowed their knee to Baal.”

Paul repeats this verse in Romans 11:4 and follows in the same spirit in verse 5, saying, “In the same way, then, there has also come to be at this present time, a remnant, chosen by grace.”

In short order, things simply aren’t always as they seem to be…

According to statistics, just 3% of the population control liberal leadership positions. Thirty percent of the population in our country are Christian. If true, and if these are genuine Christians, then we have a 10:1 ratio of those who have not bowed to Baal. Does that seem a situation where the Lord of Heaven would find cause to personally destroy America or permit her to be destroyed by Satan?

Perhaps… I realize my opinion doesn’t count for much unless it can be substantiated with scripture and spiritually discerned. There is more than one variable hidden within those first few paragraphs. I only mean to point out that the media is using a megaphone at close range while many of us tip-toe in whispers feeling deafened and defeated…

Israel was allowed to experience tremendous hardship and, at times, the Lord empowered Israel’s enemies to defeat her. This was the Lord’s attempt to bring His people back to the reality of their need for Him in all areas of their lives. We might refer to these times of hardship as probationary periods or the testing of their trust and loyalty to God.

So, back to America — Are we in a period of probation and testing? Does the duration and severity of hardship push people to the place where they only see the hope of deliverance by God Almighty? And at what point do they cry out for help?

Is it time to repent or fight?

Or is it time to repent and fight?

The State of the Chatter Address

America faces real enemies. Our world is at war with itself. On the one hand, our nation is scorned for its meddling and superpower-hungriness. On the other hand, we consume more than any other nation and, thus, line the pockets of every other nation — as seen in the major development of the up-and-coming countries. Truly, to destroy America will be to shoot every other nation in the foot, as the saying goes…

There are entire empires of media built around the proclamation that we are in the ‘last days’ — God’s final judgment has come upon all of mankind. With one vision, prophecy, and news reel after another, they claim Christ’s hand here or there and coming soon to a rapture near you…

Don’t fight it. Just relax and smile. Jesus is coming! Get right with God!

There are also empires of media built around the proclamation of revival in the land. Many who claim to be prophets are saying that God is not done with America and that He will yet fight for us if we will help out a bit. Perhaps, the train wreck of events can be put at a standstill and reversed. Most in this mindset do not preach only repentance but also call for the Christian invasion of every political arena:

Don’t just stand there! Do something!

For sure change is coming, one way or another. Pacifist, warrior, SAHM, or prophet, we each play a part in that change.

For certain we have an enemy who wants us dead — spiritually and physically (many).

Does America stand in the way of a global government and agenda? I think so… But for how long?

One of the interesting things a friend pointed out to me recently about God’s judgment, Biblically, is that before God destroys, He warns:

Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7

Also, when it was time for judgment, God often worked supernaturally — as in the case with Sodom and Gomorrah (and Egypt). Fire from heaven isn’t the working of man — just so we’re clear.

(On the other hand, with geo-engineering, rockets, bio-weapons, sonic weapons, nano-weapons, and technology, even what once could only be explained as an ‘act of God’ has now been thrown into questionable light: Was that terrible storm God’s heavy hand or the result of cloud-seeding and mad scientists?)

I think it is pertinent to ask: Has God warned us of impending judgment? (I would say yes, despite my uncertainty that THIS is it…) Do we only have past prophetic written accounts in the scripture as warnings or are present words being spoken by prophetic voices? Or both? Are we in for the final gasp judgment in our day or is this just another passing blip on the historical radar?

Some pray for discernment while others look for signs and events to draw conclusions. Some look for signs of the power of God, signs that He is at work…

In Matthew 24:3, the Disciples ask Jesus, “What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”

Jesus’ first words back to them? — “Take heed that no one deceives you.”

“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many.”

Has anyone recently claimed to be Christ? — You might ask.

Do many claim to speak for and in Christ’s name today? — I might counter.

“For Jews request a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Gentiles, foolishness. But to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

1 Corinthians 1:22-25

It is one thing to fight against an enemy that is visible and a whole other thing to be muted, sidelined, and destroyed by an invisible agent. One is war, the other cruel deception. Much of the chaos happening in our nation today has all of the earmarks of a planned, evil, and somewhat esoteric plot to terrorize and demoralize and subdue the people and destroy the economy (and, subsequently, the economies of the world). Who exactly is pulling the strings — well, that’s a guess and an opinion everyone carries, though the World Economic Forum speaks plainly for itself.

Whether one decides to protest, join a convoy, send aid to foreign countries, join the military, become a philanthropist, or just watch and pray: I believe in freedom insofar as God’s sovereignty and His Word does not restrict it. And I very much believe with Solomon that there is a time for all things — including war. Indeed, that is the very thing Jesus returns to take care of, isn’t it? — A great war?

Nonetheless, I very much agree with my husband and other friends who echo the sentiment that our primary necessity is to be right with God, to be sure our own calling in Christ is secure. (There are several proofs; I highly recommend studying it out in the Bible.) I believe this because remembering to look after our own spiritual house first puts the rest into better focus.

In other words, when my own soul is at peace, whether today is the last day and I am gloriously raptured within dancing skies or China and Russia join forces, trample America, reset the map, and enslave us, or the WEF gets their way, establishes globalism and a darling anti-Christ figure and the ‘last days’ truly get under way, or I die of some unheard of disease tomorrow — It’s all superficial really if I am found in Christ.

“For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18a

Believing that God’s judgment was upon our nation made me act passively so far as it regards our nation’s concerns. Reconsidering whether I was right about the times has caused me to see the things happening in our nation in a whole different context.

Which is right? (I very much doubt that I have laid the debate to rest here, but.) Well, I suppose that’s a bit like the question of salvation itself:

I guess we’ll know when we see who has endured until the end.

In the meantime, follow the cause of Christ, remember that the weapons of our warfare as it regards spiritual forces (our truest enemy) are not guns and daggar-laced mouths, and our battle is not against flesh and blood either… though we do indeed, like Job, face those enemies under the guise of skin and mortal affairs. Final judgment — the physical and spiritual sort — belongs to Christ.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10:16

(So far, The People’s Convoy’s leadership has heeded these words, by the way… Pray for them!)

I am not willing to die for my country; you won’t see a military recruit here. I’m not about that war. When I say that only Christ has my allegiance, I am dead serious about that one. Nonetheless, I do not believe in passively letting the children be trampled by men and women and confused people with wicked schemes. Love is not mutually inclusive of abuse — unless God leads you to your own literal cross.

That’s a bridge to cross another day. But before that day, I think we are amiss to just lay down and die because the government says so… There is more of cowardice than godliness in that course.

Before their time had come, Jesus and Paul many times escaped the angry mobs. I suppose they did that without even trying… ;-). Selah.

Be blessed. And thank you to my writing contributor — You know who you are. =)

News Real Reel

He who answers before he hears [the facts]— It is folly and shame to him.

Proverbs 18:13

Most news should be rebranded as social commentary rather than news.

I used to watch the news when it was more news than commentary. I still recognize it on occasion: I try to listen, my mind wanders, and I begin to tune out the monotonous script – that’s how I recognize it.

Another earthquake today in Timbuktu…

Flooding saturated roadways along the coast today…

The Prime Minister was hospitalized today for…

Oil prices are at an all-time high due to rising inflation…

The late 80s called to remind you that AIDS will be the death of you…

And the 90s want you to know that California will fall into the sea at any moment now…

Yes, those were the good old days… and you were about to tune out, right? (Remember when the news was ‘boring’? – Or at least relegated to once a day!)

The days before 24 hour news cycles and hysterical anchors reporting the end of all we know and love, of all that is decent and right in the world, within – quite possibly – the next 24 hours. Sure, there was still CIA-initiated propaganda in the mix, but back then it was easier to tune out. Now, some raving personality gives us the news covered, smothered, and smattered beneath a great deal of ranting, spinning, a foaming at the mouth.

“Fake News!”

That’s not fake news!

Hey, those numbers are real!

Hey, those people are real too!

Hey, that earthquake really happened!

Well, since these are rebuttals I’ve actually seen typed out, let’s parse out a Spin-For-Dummies commentary on the news real reel commentary…

I’m tired tonight; I’ll be brief.

SPIN-FOR-DUMMIES

(No offense intended. Just spinning off the name of those popular books…)

OBJECTIVE NEWS: There was an earthquake in California today. Fifteen people lost their lives and dozens more were injured…

SPIN #1: There was an earthquake in California today… Experts believe that these kinds of events will increase due to climate change and it’s all Trump’s fault.

SPIN #2: There was an earthquake in California today… while Biden was at Martha’s Vineyard playing golf and has no plans to visit the site.

Of course, the earthquake may indeed be influenced by climate change, as the climate runs in cycles like my washer and they’re not all the same; however, the obvious spin here is to strike the chord of climate change fears AND blame the unfavorable politician.

Likewise, Biden may have been playing golf and may not have any need to visit the earthquake site; nonetheless, the obvious spin here is to imply that he just doesn’t care –

Playing golf while an earthquake he didn’t know would happen was happening? How dare he… (??)

It’s not that “Fake News” is all fake news; it’s just that it’s all misrepresented and skewed by personalities, opinions, and scripts now. (Maybe it always was…)

And once you see it, you can’t unsee it. That’s just life.

I find it increasingly difficult to watch any news station. One’s almost as bad as another, though CNN – God banish them – is by far the biggest Joker in the lot, and I don’t think a rebranding can save it though I hear they’re trying.

Co-to-the-vid was real. The tyrannical screams about what should (and shouldn’t?) be permitted as a remedy, however, were entirely sus and gus.

(Suspect and bogus. Come on, Gen Z. Counting on you to hang with me…)

What kind of governing body of the people distorts and shuts down an effective remedy for the people anyway? (Personally, I know dozens of people now who opted for Ivermectin and none of them ended up in the hospital. In fact, they got over the Co-to-the-vid faster than I did! Ick.) And then hypes up a totally sketch and risky experimental med? Not a trustworthy governing bodythat much is certain.

Also, the numbers weren’t real. Even the fakestream media reported that guys… come on now.

But grandma died…

Yes, and she might have died from the flu too… or a bad fall… or any number of other incidents that commonly occur in this world.

I am not calloused, and I hope you won’t read it that way. I’m just wondering when enough is enough for some people… on both sides.

Spin Happens

Pay attention and don’t give an opinion until you have a reasonable amount of facts. Well, at least admit it’s an opinion (which, let’s be real, isn’t worth much these days).

Facts are not the things the media tells you any more. You will have to look those up and verify information yourself these days… and, even then, best of luck to you. Oh, yeah, and you’ll have to cut through a lot of thickly sliced bologna even when facts are presented.

But we’re not dummies. God gave us brains, His Spirit (if we’re in Christ), and His Word. We don’t have to know every detail of every scheme or what will happen next to know how it all began and ends – and WHO begins and ends it.

So, when you want the real real news, tune into the Alpha and Omega..

The yipping dogs, rabid cats, and vultures will still be there when you need to know the current talking points of the latest social spin artists.

Grace To You

Trauma is the abused whipping dog of media. A personal trauma unfolds into a shared trauma which spreads into a campaign, an awareness, a cautionary tale from a mounted platform which is then retold in a thousand and one news clips — repinned, retweeted, reshared — and passed beneath the covers of a thousand ‘fictional’ short stories and novels, soon TV shows and movies, inspired by the same trauma.

She told me her trauma; I told you so; and soon enough we all experience the same trauma on the big screen or in a story we half wish we hadn’t read…

And yet, why should we get the comfort of not vicariously reliving that trauma since these things are real, weighty, torment many, and can provide insight and grace to those working with a bonafide victim?

In other words, will reading about the twelve year old girl standing alone in Central Park in her pajamas and picked up by a pimp change the way we see the world moving around us? Will we see her once we know? Will we see him? What can we do?

I don’t make a habit of standing in Central Park. Even as I read the stories, I feel another world away in my own troubles of the day…

Nonetheless, the knowing shapes my worldview. It forms the shadows and fears surrounding what I permit my kids to do and what I do not permit them to do. It colors the way I filter the real people in my life: SAFE | UNSAFE | UNKNOWN | A STATISTIC WAITING TO HAPPEN | STRANGER DANGER | RED ALERT! — STAY AWAY! The story of someone else’s abused and neglected kid makes me hyperventilate while trying to keep my own safe…

That is, the world’s traumas are now my vicarious traumas.

What about the video of the man beat to death by a few men while a mob stood around recording it on their phones? Or the little girl ran over by a dump truck in broad daylight? Or the woman raped on the subway while everyone turned a blind eye?

Please do not be naive: These stories leave an impression upon us all, whether we can rightly recognize it. It was a frequent topic when we worked in residential care: Secondary Trauma. You can’t unsee the video. You can’t erase the memoir or your memory of it. You can’t untangle the girl’s tears from your own now that she’s told you the truth…

These are the things that weary me about the online world and our global awareness. It can be secondary joy and encouragement or secondary trauma and torment; it’s hard to say which it’ll be today, though there is certainly more of the second I think. (And that’s not even adding our personal lives and contacts into the mix.)

Worse still, however, are the ancient questions born upon such traumas: Why does God permit such things? Why do these things happen? Why are people so cruel?

Grace To You

I need to preface this part with a very clear disclaimer. There is a common grace Christians speak of that God has bequeathed to all of mankind. The graces of life, of health, the enjoyment of His creation, the basic functioning of the human body and whatever joy and comfort we find in His works might be put under the header of Common Grace towards all.

That is NOT the grace I speak of here. The grace I speak of here is designed for the Believer, for the soul that trusts in God alone to deliver, to heal, to save. Grace, when defined properly, is ‘power beyond your ability’:

Imagine that you’ve fallen down, scraped your knees, and dropped the fragile things you were carrying. Then you see God’s helping hand extended from heaven to help you up… That’s grace.

Imagine you’ve been walking with God for years, many years, and you’re tired. You’ve been beaten, tried, challenged, and life has not handed out so many ‘common’ graces; your health is poor and everyone seems to look down at you as if it’s all your fault (let’s assume it’s not). Then you see a vision of Jesus. He places a white robe of comfort over your shoulders. He speaks His words to you and, suddenly, you see your life from His perspective. He reminds you of the people you have time to befriend and care for because you aren’t so busy with other things… Oh friend, that is sweet grace.

One of the wisest things I’ve ever heard from the pulpit was a straightforward reminder that God will give to His saints the grace they need to face their unique and individual trials. Indeed, Peter’s path was not the same as Beloved John’s, but they were each given the grace they needed to endure their own fates —

You do believe God has a plan (fate) for your life, right? It’s a common mantra…

Speaking from the book of Job or Jeremiah (I forget now), the wise man’s point was that when we examine someone else’s trauma and injustices, we must remember still that God will give them grace for their personal journey.

And God will give you grace for yours.

Their grace won’t be the same as yours. Your grace won’t be the same as theirs. Their ‘Follow Me’ journey will not look the same as yours. Your ‘Follow Me’ path won’t look the same as theirs. As I’ve noted many times, any time we fall prey to making comparisons we trip over ourselves — whether in pity or pride.

Of course, the heartache of this is knowing that so many do not turn to God for their comfort or defense and do not experience such graces in life. Nonetheless, ‘This is My Father’s world’ and we can continue to pray, to do unto them as we would like done for us, and to fight for what is holy and right in our society and nation but especially for our families — a vital and often unseen work!

It has been recorded a thousand times over that the family unit is the make or break it of society. It has never been less true or more evident than in our society now.

Personally, I advise limiting the secondary traumas you and your children are exposed to. There is very little benefit in the exposure, if any. To say that we can avoid it altogether, however, would be naive; it’s everywhere. As a writer, I read others’ short stories and it’s depressing, even alarming, how many are first or secondary traumas being stylized to share with the world…

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Love your traumatized friend but don’t let their trauma lead you to question God’s own grace toward you. He is the “I AM”, remember… He is what we need at all times, in all circumstances, in all places.

But never compare God’s grace for one child with your own. As we understand the weaknesses and strengths of our own children, so indeed our Creator in heaven knows His children. What hardens one, softens another: Only God knows the full composition of your dust and bone.

Grace to you, friend.

Virtual Commentary

It’s hard to believe that these words were penned in 1997. They feel fresh and, perhaps, that has much to do with the last two years of the social mantra, We’re in this together.

Family, community, and unity are the key words. But be careful. Christians are not the only ones using them. Have you noticed that many people are getting tired of individualism and self-focus? Self-interest, self-worth, self-esteem, what’s in it for me, the “me” generation, unbridled introspection and personal analysis – we are finally ready for a change. Individualism is out. From a strictly pragmatic perspective, we have found that individualism doesn’t work. As an antidote, the new buzz word is community.

The problem is that unless there is a radical change in the way we see God, ourselves, and others, community will become just another strategy for us to feel better about ourselves. It will relieve loneliness, and we will feel more “connected”, but if we pursue community for self-fulfillment rather than God’s glory, the community movement will simply be a passing fad…

Edward T. Welch, When People Are Big And God Is Small

I wonder whether Moses the Leader, Joseph the Dreamer, Esther the Queen, Jeremiah the Prophet, Jonah the Evangelist, Mary the Mother, or Lydia the Purple-Clothier had to endure and grapple with such tiresome social introspection…

We have all wearied of endless analysis (social and personal) and self-reflection. How often do we examine wrinkles, blackheads, unruly hairs, and blemishes in the mirror only to leave the room virtually unchanged to those around us (yet imagining that we have made a difference)? How often do we scrutinize, sanitize, or slur the wrinkled, blemished, black and white marks of our social walls, then walk out of our front doors, flesh and blood, to encounter the essential flesh and bone that makes up our tangible world – not realizing that they are one-in-the-same soul? The soul of our social media is as real as the soul of our body and blood, however masked. The one we ridiculed or snubbed or mistreated online was the same as the one we offered smiles and condolences to in person (or vice-versa); we just didn’t know it.

Is this cause for more soul-searching? Or less? More analysis and commentary or less?

No level of self or cultural analysis has ever provided for me the grace, energy, empowerment, and heart-change that I find in God’s words. It all falls short; His words are the standard. It is only by His words that we are sanctified (Ephesians 5:26).

In short, I believe that the only way we see a ‘radical change’ in how we view God, ourselves, and others is by washing our minds more with God’s words than with the nightly news, praying more than we commentate, and remembering that worrying about ourselves – no matter how that is disguised – is virtually and realistically a fruitless venture in the end.

Where It Leads…

Confession: I’ve never read C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. From what I’ve heard of it, however, I could probably gain from the perspective on devilry in the Christian life.

(Did I just pen more introspection? O God, deliver me… from myself.)

Welch’s book is insightful and helpful. For me to say otherwise would be dishonest to the ways in which it wrote volumes upon my own heart in the past. Truly, many would benefit to read it…

Commentary, analysis, reflection – these are not sins or worthless things. As many a good preacher will note: God did give us brains for a reason – and, surely, that reason wasn’t only math. So much depends upon the heart, the foundation, of things in everything – doesn’t it?

Ladies, do we serve our husbands in their desire for ‘togetherness’ to appease them, to prove love with a little whitewashing, to feel less guilty, because we too desire that time together, because we want to keep the peace, or because we can say our service to our husbands is an extension of serving God (or a Free-Pharisee card to shirk the thing God actually told us to do, even at their expense)?

Men, we’ve all heard you use at least two of those reasons up there to deal with a pesky wife… Let’s keep things kosher when we cut the bull (on both sides).

Tribe leaders and commentators – Same questions. Is it for us or for them? Is it for God or for our kingdom building? Did we make new lines to excuse us from the ones God wrote (Free-Pharisee)?

The Holy Spirit may indeed lead us into such reflections, convictions, and analyses, but then these things should also lead to the repentance that grows from ‘godly sorrow’ – right? If navel-diving leaves us depressed and unmotivated, then we may be dealing with ‘worldly sorrow’, which leads to death (defeat) rather than repentance (life) (2 Cor. 7:10).

Note the fascinating order of events of this verse:

Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.

Proverbs 16:3

‘Just Another Strategy’…

So, what of it? Has community, togetherness, the group, our tribe’s ideals swollen over individualistic expressions, callings, or experiences? Insofar as socialism seems a nifty idea to naive pockets, perhaps… The herd over the individual’s freedoms was also a screeching mantra of the past year…

Still, I think Welch is right in that this present form of herd mentality and tribalism only serves to prop up the underlying fearful, lonely, and fatigued individual selves harping on golden chords of virtual togetherness they don’t mean…

Or, perhaps, it is simply a ‘togetherness’ we no longer know how to grasp and hold tight in the ‘real’ world. Virtual virtue is so much easier to attain….

Is it?

It’s also easy to lose…

THE RELIGION OF HYPOCRISY

Don’t get me wrong, it’s always been here –

Between my ears –

In your heart –

Before our eyes…

I walked out of the theater the first time I saw The Lord of the Rings because it felt so dark, yet Edgar Allen Poe was my favorite author…

I walked out on contemporary Christian radio decades ago for its shallow and out-of-context Churchy tripes, yet I entertained a few Adult Alternative secular artists in my heart…

I watched preacher after preacher denouncing porn, adultery, and homosexuality every Sunday, then suddenly caught in their own net at the strip club, online, or in the closet…

And I’ve sat in the armchair of my heart pondering these things in a padded room with nicotine-laced emotional placations, half bewildered and half repulsed…

The Religion of Hypocrisy is the status quo – to borrow a line from my husband.

Churchianity At Its Best

Recently, since following The Chosen series on TV, I’ve been made aware of several videos or articles online denouncing the show for its extra-biblical content or hypothesizing that a Christian, a Mormon, and a Catholic can’t walk into a bar onto a movie set together without having a sinister purpose at heart…

Some making these criticisms make them believing that they uphold the truest of doctrines in the land and hypothesizing that their brand of Christian (be it zealot or fisherman) is the right-ness (like hotness but better).

Others, however, make these criticisms from the teetering high chair of double-standards, doubling down on anything branding itself as ‘Christian’ while simultaneously turning blind eyes towards their preferential secular fare.

Then, along came Redeeming Love, the film… and a flood of vitriol from Christians within minutes of viewing.

(I have seen The Chosen; I have not yet seen Redeeming Love, though I read Francine Rivers’ book in my youth.)

I recall that the book, Redeeming Love, was shocking and sometimes uncomfortable, so I can imagine that the film is more-so. I would agree that extra care should have been taken with the film; I am not arguing that some shots shouldn’t have been more discreet or edited out entirely. I have not seen the film, but I imagine that that much is true of the critiques.

What I am addressing here is the hypocrisy of the viewers, friends, not-so-much whether their critique was warranted for Christian audiences.

The Chosen, a film about Jesus, and Redeeming Love, a film based on the book of Hosea, are two very different offerings, yet the polarizing and excoriating rebukes of both have been very similar…

Christians criticizing The Matrix? …I don’t recall that.

Christians against Bond007? …I don’t recall that.

Christians sounding alarms about The Game of Thrones?… Okay, I saw more Christians enamored with this show than not, but the debate did exist somewhere…

Christians renouncing Harry Potter? …Me. But I’m one of the few.

Christians alarmed by the subversiveness of Frozen II and the witchcraft therein?… Hm, a few… but I feel alone.

Two Responses

There are two primary responses, I think, to contrasts such as these. The first is to weaken our criticisms; the second is to fortify them.

The first: We can realize that we’ve played the hypocrite when it comes to entertainment and decide to lower the bar – accepting in ‘Christian’ films what we would accept from the table of the world. After all, we’ve been noshing at both, right? So… might as well drop the illusions and self-delusions.

The second: We can realize the whoops of our double-standards, show more grace to Christian brothers and sisters, and cut out the worldly fare. So maybe we don’t throw the whole TV out, but we throw away anything with subversive messages, worldly messages, and ungodly messages – which will be most of what’s on TV and in film.

I’ll admit to taking a third route with Redeeming Love...

An Author’s View

It’s a good thing the book of Galatians was not written to the Corinthians. For the Corinthians, the book of Galatians is practically a license to sin… or so it seems to the liberal…

And, it sounds like it’s a good thing the book of Corinthians wasn’t written to the Galatians too. The Galatians had something to prove – namely, their own works and righteousness. The message of Galatians was fitting.

Both of these books are beneficial to us as Believers, but they were not written to us. They were written for a specific audience.

Any Bible teacher will confirm.

The first rule of writing is knowing your audience. It’s a rule I understand the importance of because I’ve spent a lot of decades trying to figure out mine. If you cannot define your audience as a writer, you will speak in too many generalities or try to say too much at once –

Hi. My name is Rose, and I am a recovering audience shirker.

I know who my audience is for my fiction book now… and, because of that, my text has changed, my methods have changed, my focus has changed, and my criticisms (even of myself) have changed.

And it changed the way I heard the critiques of Redeeming Love

So, for this alternate route, I would simply like to suggest that the film – maybe even the book – was not written for you.

Maybe it wasn’t for you.

Because, here’s the thing…

Some women grow up in Angel’s world (the whore of Redeeming Love)…

Some little girls grow up in sex-trafficking rings, abused before they even know how to read or write…

Some children grow up being repeatedly, explicitly, and horrifically abused by their own parents or other family…

What about those still trapped in these lifestyles who think redemption is but a fairytale for body and soul?

Do you think the film will be shocking to them? Do you think they won’t be able to hear the redemptive message of it? Do you think it will be too explicit for them?

(‘Triggering’ is a different issue; I said ‘shocking’.)

Conclusions

Again, I don’t say these things to whitewash whatever was not necessary about the film.

I note these things to check our hearts…

If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. You probably shouldn’t send your husband to review the film. Some things are better restricted to the written word.

But…

Were the characterizations accurate? Might God yet redeem it for those to whom the corporal has become anything but sacred ground? – You know, the sick ones (rather than the healthy)…

Let’s be real. Plenty of ‘Christian’ men are watching porn in the closet, so… I’m not sure why y’all shocked – to be blunt.

Oh – because it’s a ‘Christian film’?

I see…

And what about our Christian men and women?

Or is that in name only too?

If we are to assess the splinter, we must first asses the log, dear ones.

Your log before their splinter.

That’s what Jesus said.

Same goes for The Chosen.

If you’re complaining about extra-Biblical story-telling, I hope you are first assessing the extra-Biblical activities in your own life. To do anything less furthers only The Religion of Hypocrisy –

Not the Gospel of Christ.

He calls many to repentance and, last I checked, He still uses various means…

Shalom.