The Church ‘In Spirit & In Truth’ (And Those Seeking)

What if I told you that there is an entire population of sheep desiring to be in church, wanting to be in communion with the saints, moving in and out of your churches in search of Living Water, lacking an earthly Shepherd?

Certainly, one pastor might say: “These are the malcontents.”

Indeed, another hireling supposes: “They refuse to be under authority.”

Tragic, replies another: “There are plenty of churches. They need to stop church-hopping.”

Perhaps. Some.

But what if something else is happening? What if these are those who hear their Shepherd’s voice… and, thus, cannot follow these others?

Defining Those Who Seek

Some time ago, our family took a little road trip to look at a house in the Wisconsin Dells. Winding through the backroads during a snowstorm, poking along behind an Amish cart and horse, and choosing to stay the night in a converted church building, we had little on our minds except hope that this might be the one — the home for us. Little did we know, as we woke the next morning to meet the realtor for a viewing, that a different sort of encounter was about occur.

Patiently indifferent to the home, the realtor was helpful and honest. There was no gussying up this $30,000 reno with any amount of words anyway; the house left a lot to be desired, even if my son was excited about the green Hulk painted on what might have been his future bedroom wall. Nonetheless, we were thorough in discussing options, pulling the realtor with us into the winter wonderland outside to have a closer look, and that’s when it happened. Standing in three feet of snow, we started talking about church.

I don’t even remember how it happened, but in course of conversation I asked where his family went to church. He expressed immediate frustration and confided that his family had been “doing church at home” for a while because

“It’s like you have to choose between a Word or a Spirit church; why can’t it be both?”

It turned out that we had far more in common with this realtor than any of us had imagined while cringing over a toilet bowl full of paint inside a house we didn’t buy.

I had been lamenting the same frustration for at least a decade. Indeed, we had done “church at home” for several months not long before this conversation for similar reasons.

Why?

Because the Spirit churches seem to fall too easily into error (of interpretation and practice or in cultural affairs), manipulation (often over gifts or works), and hype (lights, smoke, and mirrors in the name of ‘relevance’); and the Word churches fall prey to dogma (fighting over doctrines that don’t actually matter), lukewarmness (emphasizing works or no works at all and neglecting spiritual gifts), and the traditions of man (ritual and rote that bears no scriptural foundations but are very dignified).

It wasn’t the first time we’d had a conversation with another family who felt this way. I don’t know if this is a Xennial thing, but there does seem to be a correlation in age amongst those I meet who feel similarly. Sometimes the particular reasons vary, but the overall sentiment remains:

These churches are not true to the whole of scripture; they do not worship in Truth and Spirit OR in Spirit and Truth.

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:24
Expression

Does the Spirit of God express Himself in particular ways?

Well, we already know that ‘worship’ is not a set of slides on a screen that we read off once a week nor the hymnal we cherish; it is not a song or dance, though it may include those things.

Worship is what you do with your life in response to God’s actions toward you. It contains the whole of your life, not just a fraction of it.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 12:1 [ESV]

So then, we cannot say that Sister Susie’s expression of worship – hollering, waving a hankie around, or swinging from the proverbial chandelier – is the truest expression of worshiping God ‘in spirit’.

Likewise, we cannot say that the stoic Brother Timothy’s expression of worship – a little choked up, wholly dignified, subjecting his body to the strictest of codes – is the truer expression of worshiping God ‘in truth’.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 

and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 

and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 

For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 

to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 

10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 

11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

In this way we see that the expressions of the Spirit’s indwelling can look different on each one, according to scripture. Where one may burst out in an expression of faith toward God, at home or in the church service, another may pray quietly, in their closet and in a church service, and find the gift of healing at work. One may pray gently, seated at a table, with a gift of wisdom; another, may speak in ‘tongues’ – that mysterious gift – and be blessed or bring blessing to the hearer, as the Disciples did at Pentecost.

The frustration laid upon the hearts of those who believe such things, who take God at His word, is finding that where one church suppresses gifts and expression of them, another makes a flagrant display of them.

Neither treat rightly the Spirit of Grace. Both are abusive in their errors.

Their sin is not against man but against God, who has given us such gifts and such a Helper.

Balancing Expression

There is a way to balance the spiritually flamboyant errors of worshiping ‘in spirit’, and they too find root in scripture:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:22-24

Having spent two-thirds of my life in evangelical and charismatic churches, I am well-versed in their tendencies and errors. One of the most common problems in these church types is the bug of super-stardom or a spiritually elite. First-class Christians lay hands on the sick, pray bold prayers, dance ‘in the spirit’, feel goosebumps (if it’s a good ‘worship’ service), speak in tongues more than you all, and talk about signs and wonders as if they are the only true estimation of a true faith.

I can tell you what these tend to lack: The fruit of the Spirit.

They package spiritual gifts in heavy-syrup and then throw the fruit out to get that sugar-rush from the syrupy spook. Chewing is hard work. Let’s dance instead!

I’m not a critic; I’m a convert from these things. It’s vital, when examining criticism to discern the difference… I’m not disgruntled with the Church; I am moved on her behalf to use my own gifts – I pray not without fruit showing when I am with you.

Whether you sing stiffly with a hymnal or dance and shout, I am no judge of these things; rather, I will look to see if you bear the marks of Christ in your body… in your ‘reasonable’ daily service.

From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

Galatians 6:17

We may not yet bear the physical marks of persecution, but should we not bear the physical marks of suffering self-control, that holy fruit? – Of dying daily? – Of putting to death the deeds of the flesh?

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.

1 Peter 4:1

Seeking attention, power, status, or to change the flow of a service on Sunday morning where you have not been granted authority to do so, are these not works of the flesh?

If you preach the Word of God on Sunday, then malign your own people behind closed doors on Monday, you may be very gifted… and lacking fruit.

How Does One Worship in Truth?

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 17:16:19

Our expression of worship in the Spirit comes through the gifts and through the fruit of the Spirit. These things can be encouraged or extinguished through various methods, orthopraxy; that is true. Nevertheless, all of these things are meaningless if we do not marry them with the truth of God’s Word.

God’s Word, God’s truth, sets us apart from the world and into God’s service.

It’s funny that we call church a ‘service’, isn’t it? The church service was this; the church service was that…

But the Church’s true service is to worship Him by living a lifestyle consecrated to Him (set apart) by God’s truth in tandem with (the gifts and fruits of walking in the spirit by) the precious Spirit of Grace Jesus left to his disciples AND

“…also for those who will believe in me through their word…”

John 17:20

Show me a Christian who denies the gifts of the Spirit and I will show you a Christian lacking in the fruit too; likewise, show me a Christian who makes an idol of the gifts and I will show you a Christian who performs like an angel and walks like a devil.

Show me a Christian who denies the truth of God and I will show you a Christian who errs by every doctrinal demon and speaks only truth when he can profit like Balaam; likewise, show me a Christian who preaches dogma in the traditions of man and I will show you a Christian who excels in gaining converts with convincing speech only to make them “twice a son of hell” (Matt. 23:15).

Perhaps, perhaps... in light of these things, one can see why some lament being unable to find a church that operates ‘in spirit and in truth’ and find some understanding.

These are the casualties of your deceptions, Church.

I Can Only Imagine…

So… what would that church look like anyway?

What would a church more concerned about ‘worshiping in spirit and in truth’ than making guests feel comfortable;

a church intent on ‘worshiping in spirit and in truth’ every day rather than spending a week preparing for one day of ‘service’;

a church that hungers and thirsts more for the righteous benefits of ‘worshiping in spirit and in truth’ than they hunger for lunch after service, their own building, community status, acclaim, signs, wonders, or a worldly respectability –

What would that church look like?

Thankfully, we don’t have to only imagine. Are there not vivid examples of these throughout the Bible?

Wouldn’t it look like Abraham, believing God though he did not see the fullness of the promise in his days;

like Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi in a foreign land and in a new lifestyle;

like Job’s stubbornness to honor God in his heart, despite his external circumstances;

like Peter, being led where he did not want to go because He loved Jesus;

like Hannah’s faith through her tears;

like the timid made bold; like the aggressive made meek; like the discontent filled and whole;

like the socially shunned pouring out of her heart a wealth of gratitude at her Savior’s feet, no matter the judgements fomenting around the room;

a table set for a feast in death’s valley under His wings;

like the uproar of swelling excitement on Pentecost day;

like the quiet stashing away of tender truths in Mary’s heart;

wouldn’t it be like the woman at the well, finally finding that one Husband, the Living Water of spirit and truth, her soul had sought for so many years – and then running to tell everyone?

You Are The Church

I speak now to the seeking.

We’ve all heard by now that the church is not the building. Aren’t our church errors, preferences, and camps often an extension of our personal proclivities, gifts, and values?

A Ruth thinks everyone should be Ruth… but some women are Abigails.

A Peter thinks everyone should be Peter… but some men are the beloved, John.

Leah is annoyed by a Rachel’s beauty; Rachel is jealous of Leah’s children.

Saul thinks everyone is another would-be Saul… but some are Davids.

The disciples are indignant that someone else is using their Master’s name to pray… but Jesus calls His own sheep by name.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:3-8

This is your transforming ‘service’ unto God.

Fulfill your ‘function’ in spirit and in truth… then, perhaps, we will find more churches filled with those who worship in spirit and in truth.

Because we can all believe in the gifts of the Spirit but not walk after the Spirit; and we can all hear God’s word every Sunday without ever becoming a doer of the Word.

I invite you to join me in the ‘reasonable service’ of letting the spirit of God’s truth transform your life. We cannot expect to find in a church building that which we do not practice daily in our homes.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6

Amen.

As a personal note, pray for me. I do not desire to be a teacher or a preacher, though I carry a flame to exhort and encourage the Church; but for whatever function God has given me, I too engage in war (or limp around the battlefield called Trying). It is easier to believe and to hear than it is to do; I too find myself within the battle of Romans 12:1. The spirit is willing; the flesh, indeed, weak. Pray for me as I pray for you and be blessed.

Making The Secular Sacred (And Other Damnable Lies)

It’s amazing how many scripture verses an article can be smeared with while still denying the truth. The Pharisees were expert at this too...

I came across an article this morning titled, “A Note of Sanity about Halloween”, written by a “disciple”, Joe McKeever. After setting up with a story about someone who was literally afraid of zombies, he cleverly went on to describe the presumed imaginations of those who don’t celebrate Halloween (that innocent, non-lethal, and repurposed holiday so many Christians know and love; his sentiments, not mine).

He describes the scaredy-cat Christian’s imaginations in the following way:

“They are so much more spiritual than you” — he says.

They are people who take the devil too “seriously” and have a “razor-sharp sense of what is right and wrong”;

Overly fearful of the devil;

No doubt, “centering” faith and prayer around the devil;

And clearly “afraid of the big, bad wolf”.

He then proceeds to tell Christians they may turn this secular, cultural, pagan holiday – the mere ‘tradition of man’, if I ever saw one – into something sacredly glorious:

Saying, “Christians may actually celebrate his [Satan’s] undoing” on this day.

Asserting that “lampooning” the devil through “caricature” on Halloween is the definition of “victory”: Thanks, Jesus; now I can celebrate Halloween with my lost friends, dress like the devil, claim the blessings of a saint, and not have to explain myself!

And telling us to “laugh” it off and not give Satan “his own day”… as we celebrate his own day… (?!)

Saints, this article is the epitome of deceptive and cunning speech, a veritable “angel of light” patting conscience on the head so we can go back to sleep… It is full of so many seducing half-truths, it’s hard to know where to start.

For Starters

We didn’t start here either. This stand-off has been a long time in coming. Too long.

I’ve spent a lot of years riding the fence, as they say, on this one, trying to keep the social peace rather than the peace of God. Though my own parents stopped celebrating the holiday and taking us to events when we were pretty young, I’ve meandered between the lines as an adult, giving out candy some years, attending church ‘Harvest Festivals’ other years, and wishing I could don that smashing wig and stand-out make-up too.

It just so happens that my husband proposed to me at Disney World in October of 2009, during Disney’s big Halloween smash. What a pickle. We were there with family, neither one of us happy about Halloween, though we obliged by wearing costumes and doing the event… because it felt rude not to (an admittedly terrible reason for offending your own conscience).

Well, if we look happy don’t forget that we were newly engaged… 🙂

Did we die? Did worms begin to crawl out of our ears? Did we melt into puddles of green cauldron goo? Did God forever turn His back on us? Did the devil haunt our dreams from that night on?

No. Of course not. Only “immature and unstable” (Joe McKeever’s words, not mine) people believe the devil works like that…

But…

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James 4:17

We have never celebrated Halloween with our children. If anything, that betraying of conscience beforehand made us more resolute with regards to how we wanted to raise our family later; for that, I am thankful.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:22

Now, to address McKeever’s presumptions about an abstaining one’s frightful “imaginations”.

Spirituality

The claim was made that people like myself think we are “more spiritual” than others (namely, those who celebrate Halloween). This is complete rubbish and unfounded and, regrettably, a falsely accusing moniker I’ve had to slay more than once in life.

I concede that there may be some who erroneously believe this and act this way, blowing trumpets of self-righteousness into every conversation and debate; but many who abstain from Halloween’s delicacies and fun, do so with a great deal of unspiritual angst and heat from the other side, constantly put on the defensive by other Christians or family members. What I mean is –

A lot of people who don’t celebrate Halloween, don’t celebrate it quietly.

This past Sunday, only those who directly asked what my kids were dressing up as (since it has become a cultural expectation) got the honest reply: “We don’t celebrate Halloween”, while others chatted about what they would “be” and what preparations they were making for the evening event.

Indeed, I would have said nothing… but leave it to kids to prod us out of acting cowardly.

As someone left the church noting they had to get ready for “trick-or-treating”, my dear son, 5, pipes up:

“Tri-ck-or-trea-ting?”

He dragged out every syllable to the mostest.

“We don’t go-o-o trick-or-treating.”

Emphasized by his eyes-all-sideways, looking clever.

I replied, “I can’t take him anywhere.”

What does an abstaining mom say after that?

There was no recovery. Just awkward silence. Not even crickets. They didn’t know what to say, and neither did I. My private convictions had just been obliterated by a 5-year-old’s darling confession.

He’s five. He’s not super thrilled that he can’t go knock on people’s doors and get bags of candy, but he understands that “we” don’t do that.

Do you think he feels more superior or more spiritual for it?

I know I didn’t in that moment. I just wanted to go home.

The next truth that needs pointed out on this topic: We are all spiritual beings first.

How exactly is one more spiritual than another? Can you fly or walk through walls yet? Have you brought a dead person back to life recently? I mean, if one has, I might concede that they have something I don’t yet possess…

But it can’t possibly be “spirituality”: We are all spiritual. That’s how God made us.

As spirits we are already dressed up in flesh and blood. God-breathed, God-fashioned, God-designed. That’s pretty sweet. Why do we want to distort that?

Folly

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

Does he “devour” them literally? — Not that I know of, so whatever does this verse mean? (Selah.)

The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Matthew 13:39

Hm. What exactly did that devil sow?

Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Who were held in slavery by their “fear” of death? — Oh, all of us. That’s right.

And who “by His death” freed us? — Ah, yes, Jesus. That’s why we’re told to preach “Christ crucified” rather than boasting about our standing against death.

Personally, I wait for lightening to strike when someone begins boasting about their supernatural authority over the devil. (It’s not about you, boo… and Job was a righteous man, by the way.) I’m not scared of him; I’ve seen and heard and been given too much good in Christ. I also don’t go around flexing, like I’m the one with the flex.

I probably err on the side of caution, but –

But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Jude 1:9

Bunny trail. Sorry.

So, we are freed from the fear of death (the devil’s power) in Christ Jesus. So now:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.

Ephesians 4:14

McKeever seems to suggest that those who abstain from Halloween 1) fear the devil, 2) pray prayers centered around the devil, and 3) take the devil too seriously. So then, he says that not celebrating Halloween is mutually inclusive of fearing Satan rather than God.

That is cunning.

That is wicked.

That is perversion.

The inverse is the devil’s speciality. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it: he is not so subtle in his subtleties.

Let me make it plainer with an example. What this author is suggesting is no different than telling someone who wants to abstain from marriage that in abstaining they clearly fear having a spouse more than they fear (trust) God to give them a happy marriage.

Umm… no. Maybe God just asked them not to marry. Yeah? That isn’t a sin.

Surely, we’re not arguing that to NOT celebrate Halloween is a sin? — Though McKeever comes about as near to saying so as one cleverly can. At least, he accused us of the sin of fear and obsession with the devil… which is an awkwardly backwards accusation, if appearances count for anything on Halloween night.

Secular-to-Sacred: That Old Hat

This sort of speech, this Christians-can-do-whatever-they-want-because-they’re-Christians, was super popular when I was a young adult. Many reasoned that because God lived in them, they could go to bars to, eh, ‘minister’ to people, as they sat with them, smoked with them, maybe even got drunk with them, because God in them excused all of those behaviors: The ends and our spirituality justified the means.

It wasn’t a new thought, though I’m sure it sold plenty of books in Christian bookstores.

I am a sacred vessel, so everywhere I go is sacred.

Well, yes… but no. Definitely not.

Let’s see what that passage actually says in Scripture:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

“Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Oh dear. That passage is clearly about abstaining from sexual immorality AND about who your body really belongs to…

Does your body belong to God?

Or to yourself?

Or to the world?

Every day?

Every night?

Or, like so many in our culture, have you claimed jurisdiction there?

Childish Thinking & Conclusions

There is one more point to address here, as the author also referenced that in all of his years of taking his child trick-or-treating, “no children were harmed” in the process.

Who is the judge of that, I wonder?

Who was harmed when Saul did not wait for the prophet to show up and conducted the sacrifice himself (1 Samuel 13)?

Who was harmed as the medium called out the identity of Paul (Acts 16:17)?

Who was harmed when Moses struck the rock (Numbers 20)?

Who was harmed when one prophet ate lunch with another (1 Kings 13)?

And yet, all of these incurred judgement.

This reminds me of something one of my children likes to say. I might say, Don’t do this or that because (usually followed by a lesson about safety)... To which, one of my children often replies, “But I didn’t get hurt and I did it.”

Our experiences are not apt standards. They aren’t our judges either. This is childish thinking: Susie went to wild parties; she didn’t get hurt: it’s just a phase. Why can’t I?

It was considered strange and inappropriate to see older youth and adults dressed up for Halloween when I was a kid; we’d think nothing of that today: It’s all around us. That’s not just a ‘phase’ of childhood…

And it’s no longer restricted to Halloween either. Cosplay holds no more godliness, though many love it. But one thing at a time.

As for Halloween:

Fun (FOMO, Matthew 15:9)

nor vanity (I like dressing up too! Jer. 4:30)

nor candy (“their god is their stomach”, Phil. 3:19)

nor staying ‘in’ with my friends (conforming to the world, Romans 12)

nor boasting (of a victory I did not win over the devil, but was wholly Christ’s work)

make apt excuses for violating the conscience or offending the Holy Spirit.

So I say this, and affirm in the Lord, that you are to no longer walk just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their minds, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves up to indecent behavior for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Ephesians 4:17-19

I would not think that very many celebrating Halloween are willfully serving the Devil (though some certainly do). No one is thinking about the devil while taking pictures of a cute baby dressed up like a pea-in-a-pod.

Indeed, few think of the devil when engaging in sexual immortality either; that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve his purposes.

But I would say that they are ignorant or deceived.

That is not superior Christianity; we’ve all been deceived at some point. But Christianity does bear the fruit of set-apartness… something different from the world.

With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 

1 Peter 4:4-5

Halloween is a blatantly worldly holiday that in no way or shape of mental-ascension honors God. One may say they “feel” no conviction regarding it, but they cannot rightly argue for its righteousness nor rightly accuse those who abstain of being unholy or fearful of the devil simply because they do suffer convictions on the matter.

In short, Halloween may or may not be “lawful”, but it certainly is not “helpful” for the Christian nor the Church.

Satanists do believe that you are celebrating the devil with them on that night, whether you believe it. (Reference any number of ex-satanist/witch videos.)

Others see it as a compromise, a black-eye upon the Church. Why do we celebrate such dark holidays with the world?

You may not feel that way, but whatever your feelings, Paul is clear enough about what the stronger brother’s reaction to such convictions amongst saints should be:

It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Romans 14:21

The celebration of Halloween has caused some to stumble in their faith regarding the Church. It is my personal opinion that the Church has no business doing anything on this particular night. What fellowship has light with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14)?

Why not make a celebration of Reformation Day instead? That makes far more sense for a Christian.

It is also my opinion that in terms of ‘revival’, Halloween should be an obvious first-thing-to-go and be repented of in American Christianity. It is too obvious… yet so seducing. We’re not even avoiding the “appearance” of evil with that one — C’mon man!

An argument often follows that all of the festivals have pagan roots. True enough, so far as I can tell. But that is hardly an argument for continuing in one or any of them. Personally, I can’t believe we make that argument with a straight face.

These are dark days for our nation. It is long overdue to overturn excuses, examine motives and practices, and shake the opinions of the world off of our feet.

Let’s stop riding fences… skating on thin ice… walking on eggshells… where worldly opinions are concerned. That is not what you were called to in Christ. If you needed a sign, here I am holding one:

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29

SPIRITS & THE SPIRIT OF…

Line upon line, the book itself looks so unassuming sitting there in the chair across the room, but I give it a wide berth anyway, because the jots and tittles seem to tower to the heavens; I feel that if I read one more word, the whole thing — already leaning overhead — will come falling down.

It’s too much. It’s too complicated: Hello, father of devilish half-truths.

I know.

Even so, I think of Adam, Abraham, Noah, and even the Old Testament prophets. So many of them relied upon the Ruah, the spoken words of God, because they didn’t have 66 books to read, dissect, and translate. Some of them had the first 5 books. Some of them a few chronologies. But this Good Book so many treat as salvation itself? Nope.

They had to hear God for themselves.

This is a lost art: I sigh.

It is as hard to read the Bible some days as it is to discern the voice of God — a voice some don’t even believe exists today outside of 66 books.

A demon can speak to you, but God can’t? I find this a very strange theology indeed. Strange enough to call perverse…

If we are to “test the spirits”, I assume they are not always quoting chapter and verse, else, that’d be easy enough. Or maybe it is that they’re quoting chapter and verse; that is hard too.

The devil: “Is it not written?”
Jesus: “It is also written…”

So, that’s helpful. (Not.)

What are we “testing” for? — Is it not to discern the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, from many “anti-christs” and “doctrines of demons” that have gone out into the world? And if we are testing, they must both be speaking, and if we are testing and all of these spirits are speaking, then is not the Spirit of God also speaking today to us? — And, as noted, it must not always be chapter and verse or maybe it is always chapter and verse: In either case, discernment is mandatory.

I feel so sad for those who believe that EVERY spirit’s voice is a demon. I feel alarmed for those who believe that EVERY voice they hear comes from God.

Is it not the epitome of tragedy to say that the adversary — the idol so dull — can actively speak and lead many into deception, while our God — the Living God — is mute?

He actively speaks through His Good Book: I heard you the first time. You are not wrong, but then, what about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Does that God not speak to His people any more? — By His Spirit and His Word and through visions and dreams? Why is your God of old more present than the God of new?

I find this a very strange theology, indeed! It sounds like repackaged agnosticism to me: We can know Him afar off through things He said then… as if He is not still here in the very rooms of your heart.

He is, isn’t he? Still here? In your heart?

He said 66-books worth of stuff; isn’t that enough? Generally, I agree with you, but…

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

John 21:25

Of course, there is something special about the Good Book, and we are instructed not to add to IT; however, that is not mutually inclusive of a mute God and the forfeiting of your own life’s book:

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:3
The Bible Tells Me So

I dabble in academia, I read the scholars, but I don’t profess to be one. There are days I can’t bear to crack open that book because I know I will tumble down a rabbit hole of contingencies, complications, dichotomies, jots, and tittles that I just can’t — I just don’t have the energy or smarts or desire to unravel… apart from the Ruah of God.

But as for you, continue in the things you have learned and firmly believed, since you know from whom you have learned them. From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

Does this mean that only Scripture bears these properties? Or does the God-breathed of today also bear these marks?

As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Hebrews 3:15

He redeemed us in order that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Galatians 3:14

Jesus left us, He departed in bodily, visible, tangible form, heralding the promise of something better — the promise of the precious Holy Spirit, of whom Jesus said:

I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. 

However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you. 

Everything that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take from what is Mine and disclose it to you.

John 16:12-15

And so it is, the Good Book indeed declares the wonders of the Ruah of God!

Praise God!

Because, honestly, in these days when knowledge has increased to flooding proportions, I so often need my Comforter to speak the Truth of what He hears for today — by any means He chooses.

Oh Father, thank you for giving us your precious Holy Spirit, which dispenses daily bread in testimony of Spirit and in bearing witness to the Truth. Let us not slight Him but love Him… and learn to discern.

Amen.

Because 66 books plus the number of man (6) does not create a life-giving equation….

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.