A Christian without persecution is like a bird without wings.

Bird without wings“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” – James 4:4

Western Christians have become dangerously accustomed  to comfort. So accustomed that many are ashamed to say much even in a church Bible study. At some point, somewhere, many a theology gets skewed by incorporating a lie that persecution, trials, and storms in a Christian’s life means that Christian has done something wrong. The Bible seems to say the exact opposite; that trials are a hallmark of Christian life and persecution a badge of honor:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  – Matthew 5:11-12

So why do so many Christians avoid conflict like the plague? Is such a thing compatible with Christianity at all? Can we follow Christ without taking up our own cross? I contend that it’s not likely.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23

“But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 10:33

Being the sort myself that doesn’t shy away from charged topics I’ve heard the: “you’re not Jesus” line enough times to realize that a lot of people are waiting around until they become perfect to begin to be willing to speak up for Christ. Which really only means they’ll never speak up. Where does this “you’re not Jesus” line come from anyway? Sure, plenty of Bible writers recognized that “He must become greater, and I must become less…” but those are the same writers that were preaching Christ regardless of the consequences.

Even while Stephen was stoned in the street after saying things that those people did not want to hear, Stephen was not perfect. Nor was anyone but Jesus Himself. So the idea that someone must be completely blameless and perfect to experience Matthew 5:11 persecution is silly. We humans are clumsy (a great song about this) and terribly flawed. Our hearts are consistently deceitful. This flesh and blood “bag of bones” that God gave us for a short time is as corrupt as the dust it was made from, but that doesn’t change the fact that within this “temple” is a “lamp-stand” that is the image of God that He shared with His children. Our Heavenly Father loves us anyway.

He loves us and He expects us to follow in Christ’s footsteps to Holiness. That means speaking truth, being willing to be disliked, perhaps even mocked, or maybe even sued? What are these threats compared to the stonings, beheadings, and crucifixions that our brothers & sisters have faced? Here in Western Christianity some are more afraid of someone rolling their eyes at them than Daniel was afraid of the lions’ den, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who faced the fiery furnace. What happened!!!!?????

Well, firstly we are just too comfortable. We have thermostats, indoor plumbing, cars… We live daily face-to-face with deceptions that tell us that life is supposed to be comfortable and easy. It’s not, especially for Christians. If everyone who call themselves “Christian” were speaking up for Christ’s commands in the face of today’s threats, our nation would be a different place. Instead, for the sake of comfort, Christians cower. Where are the Davids or Josephs of the 21st Century?

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.” – 1 Samuel 17:34-36

Where is that kind of courage? I sure can’t claim to have it. I may not cower at church meetings but in society I’m afraid. I’m afraid that my finances, freedom, even my family will be threatened if I share “too much” about Jesus. Even when I don’t cower at a church meeting, that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of all of the emotional heartache I’ll be strapped with for a long period after. That sadness stinks, but despite the doubts we should remember that we’re in good company. Even Elijah lamented the outcome of bravely proclaiming the word of the Lord, and Joseph suffered for it too…

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20

Who doesn’t think that Joseph was persecuted by his brothers? Put yourself in his shoes, sitting at the bottom of a well, or chained to a wagon train headed into slavery. Having bragged to his brothers about how they would all bow down to him. “Why did I say something so stupid? Just because God gives me a dream doesn’t mean I have to go announcing it to everyone within earshot. Especially not my older brothers… especially not about them bowing down to me…”

Oh, but it gets worse. Now he’s being carried off in shackles for having not been willing to sleep with his master’s wife. “How terribly unjust that I’m a slave in the first place, how could God love me or care about me at all? Now this lady wants me to do something like this? I could have gotten some revenge but instead I ran away and now I’m arrested for ‘rape’? Why do I even try?”

I hope you’re starting to see my point. Nobody told us that we need to wait until we’re perfect and blameless to face our own Goliaths. In fact, waiting around only means that we’re missing the point. Life is short. Even as the King of Israel, with all of the wealth and luxury that went with it, David laments throughout the Psalms of the enemies, trials, and pain that he lived with daily:

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. – Psalm 32:3-4

My prayer for any that may read this is that we’d all be willing to face giants. Not sitting in front of the TV on Sunday afternoon watching highly paid athletes imitate battle. Instead that we’d get in the fray of real-life. It can and will be every bit as grueling as an NFL line of scrimmage.  In fact more-so, because there are no safety nets, helmets, or pads in the battle against principalities and powers. Even the referees are usually our enemies. Just ask Joseph, or David, or pretty much any of the writers of the Bible.  Can you name one whose life consisted of constant comfort? The reason you cannot, is because a Christian without persecution is like a bird without wings.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Bonus:

1 0

The Persecution Yet To Come

...but slandering Christians is fine and dandy.I have been fairly reminded that R2 has deviated a bit from our original intent of describing reformations to institutional church that should allow it to attract more of the remnant than it currently does. Despite the deviation, the original postulates remain. That “church” in the western world is not what Jesus designed, nor does it attract many of those that Jesus has called. While some may participate in the activities of these “clubs”, the process of growing to “meat” from “milk” almost necessitates that believers move on. After a period of time moving from club to club, most that grow to maturity in Christ are “done” with institutional church. These people can be referred to as the “Dones” (done with church) as documented by the institutions themselves in various ways. Of course clergy will object to the possibility that all clergy may not be true believers. Yet even mainstream Christian productions attest to this fact, as evidenced by this brief dialogue from a popular recent release called “Do You Believe?”:

Street preacher: Do you believe in this cross?
Pastor: I’m a pastor.
Street preacher: You didn’t answer my question

The logical conclusion for a true believer from a stint within institutional church is to recognize “The Church” as something much less tangible and much more supernatural than any building with a list of bylaws and political hierarchy. Also – if we’re not careful – we’re left with a significant scar of cynicism.

Our intent has not changed. We look forward to opportunities to continue to dismantle the human corruptions that have been polluting the reputation of Christ’s Church. However attempts to confront this corruption have resulted in a stark revelation that the institutional church is almost identically to the world. So rather than only point out the corruption of churches, we have opted to point out corruption in general. We have opted to focus on the delineation between true-believers and the world and we have opted to ignore the institutional church almost entirely. We don’t bother to mention whether people are members of the VFW, the Elk’s Club, or Sam’s Club. So why bother to mention denominations or any human institution? Institutional churches have attempted for centuries to lay claim to “The Church”, but they remain clubs, usually with less social influence than Costco, not to mention the lack of spiritual influence. In short, the wind and waves don’t obey “elder boards” and “mission committees.”

So we will press on with a more subtle theme of reformation among the more obvious and universally visible evils of the modern times. So with that disclaimer behind me I submit to you what may be the persecution yet to come.

In previous posts we we’ve discussed The Subtleties of  Religious Persecution as well as Witchcraft in the 21st Century and today I will lay out the next logical step.

In those prior posts, and many others, we’ve described how society in general already recognizes that it has a major obstacle when it comes to nature’s lack of cooperation with godless philosophy. The “wind and the waves” do not obey society, and this poses a problem for their goal of control. They can manipulate money, they can manipulate corporations, they can fix contests, define popularity, and sway the masses with sound bites. They can even reorganize our academic institutions in ways that will promote godless individuals and ideological opposition to the gospel. They can do all of those things, and they do. Yet still the “wind and the waves” do not obey them. Not for lack of trying either. The barren women of the old testament can be rescued by in-vitro fertilization. Those pregnant with inconvenient children, as Mary was, can end that with abortion. There’s even plastic surgery for those that suffer unattractiveness like Leah. However, talents still come from God. Talents and godly children, despite in-vitro fertilization.

We covered talents rather thoroughly in Witchcraft in the 21st Century so today I will discuss children. A resource of control that Red China identified decades ago, September 25, 1980 to be exact.

china one child policy

Up until they finally outlawed more than one child, the Chinese government campaigned tirelessly for “voluntary” birth control and “discouraged” reproduction. All under the guise of “family planning”.

Does any of that sound familiar? Feminism, the LGBT movement, and planned parenthood all face the same problem. They can’t stop Christians from reproducing. At least not yet.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it -Alinsky

For years there has been a concerted effort to polarize large families vs. small ones. Some of that effort has been less sinister in that simple practicality mandates that restaurants and churches and even grocery stores adjust their spaces to accommodate their average family size. Other efforts have been more sinister, those who have trouble having children, those who have no patience for children, and even those who are just convinced that children don’t have a Heavenly Father contributing to their upbringing can be heard saying: “that’s just irresponsible!” In the 21st century some would go so far as to claim a large family to be a form of child abuse. Ironically, the same people that would say that it’s merciful and kind to kill babies before they are born. The contradiction would be baffling if it weren’t for our knowledge of the evil principalities and powers that society is subject to.

I always knew one of your kids would end up on a milk carton.

The above character from Cheaper By The Dozen from a dozen years ago was a joke herself with her formerly contemptible line: “They’re all going to end up on milk cartons.”

Yet today, “Tina” (from above) represents a lot more of society than we would have believed just a few decades ago. With her godless ideology that proclaims: “Because we wanted one perfect child” and declares those who have a half dozen or more are: “irresponsible.” She represents our future.

Gone are the days of free-range kids. Attempting to allow my children to roam the neighborhood the way I did when I was their age is sure to “catch a case” from some government agency looking to boost its reputation in the sight of society. Again, just like in Ryan’s previous post, it’s because society does not include our Heavenly Father in the “supervision” equation. Godlessness begets more than just control, it begets paranoia. Again (from previous posts), ironically, these are the same progressives that proclaim: “it takes a village to raise a child.” How so, when children aren’t even allowed to explore the village?

Back to the coming persecution. The time is coming, and perhaps has now come. Now that marriage has been corrupted, gender roles decimated, and the role of father emasculated. The next evil step in the destruction of America is to control reproduction. Not just in the “voluntary” way that we’ve already seen from Planned Parenthood and its ilk. Instead in a legislative way. Some tools that have such potential include Common Core, Social Services, even the ACA. Imagine this scenario: “In efforts to stave off irresponsible spending, all health insurance policies in the US are now required to only cover exactly one child. Any family conceiving more than one child will not only pay the full price of delivery, but will be required to pay a ‘Cadillac tax’ on the extra child.”

I suspect this will take a long time to implement, especially if progressives experience backlash in 2016, but precursors to such a move would almost have to include a limit to the child tax credit. As has already been happening, and in stark contradiction to their own “stay out of my vagina” motto, the less progressive practice of home-birth has already come under stark scrutiny as well. Ironically again, while these folks sure promote the murder of babies prior to birth, they hate the idea that just “anyone” can go having children at home without their permission… um, eh… oversight.

It’s no accident that our Heavenly Father made humans to be able to reproduce without help from a doctor. Yet for those that don’t believe in a Heavenly Father, this idea sounds radical, even insane. The membership is growing every day of those that believe that Christians are mentally-ill. Despite the signs of the times increasing  too.

Whether or not our Heavenly Father has blessed you with a large family, please don’t fall for the subtle ostracization of  them. Even if you’re jealous and tempted to despise them as Rachel despised Leah. Remember that Abraham and Sarah had just 1 child between them, but went on to be exceedingly fruitful. God is still God, and the sooner we surrender to His will for our lives, the less likely that believers will fall into this trap the way we have with the feminist movement.

For those couples that God has not allowed children, please consider carefully His reasons before attempting to turn the tables on Him with medical intervention. I’m not saying that God cannot use medical interventions. I’m saying that if that is the course you choose please do so prayerfully.

Again, no matter your situation, don’t fall for the subtle peer-pressure to frown upon large families. If you truly believe in our Heavenly Father, then you should know full well that His will for us takes different turns.

This issue has potential to be a next big surrender within the institutional church similar to the acceptance of divorce (not Henry the 8th, but the last few decades where it has become almost entirely normalized), and the trivialization of gender roles (feminist movement). Two utterly devastating opponents of the traditional family. Don’t be part of the next big mistake.

3 0

If He’s who He says He is, wouldn’t He behave the way He does?

wind and wavesI am in the midst of a storm. One that has me waking up and wrestling with demons night after night. These demons are loud, and speak to me in my own voice. They start out seemingly constructive. Offering ideas on how to alleviate this suffering asap. Promising me control and victory.

Once they have my attention they proceed to flood my mind with thoughts. If I recoil, they offer ideas, when I take the bait they offer hopelessness. The cycle continues for hours.

My tribulation is that I have been accused of something despicable in a very public way. Something that brings my second most cherished role into doubt. My own fatherhood. Care to guess my first most-cherished role?

While the accusation is wildly and slanderously false, for nearly a year now that hasn’t stopped me from reliving every tiny misstep or misthought I’ve made leading up to this.

As I type, my 15 month old son is cruising around me, babbling, tripping, falling, bumping his knees, bumping his face… “boom boom”… and the cycle begins again.

As he wanders around at my feet he’s avoiding different “no no”s, like the computer cord, or his latest favorite feats like standing on tables and chairs. He’s avoiding them, because he has been taught to. My wife and I are firm believers in: “house-proof the kid”, as opposed to: “kid-proof the house.”

That “nerve” is a rather large sin in our society today. Especially if we also have the “nerve” to credit the Bible and Jesus.

There are a plethora of reasons for this. The most important being the conviction that our faith in Jesus gives us concerning the scripture: “raise up a child in the way they should go.” This conviction begins as a general thought but that general thought becomes the basis for some pretty specific practices. Since my 15 month old son is our 6th fabulous child, we do have the nerve to suspect we’re doing something right. That “nerve” is a rather large sin in our society today. Especially if we also have the “nerve” to credit the Bible and Jesus.

We live in a “progressive” world where the Bible is being eradicated from its stature everywhere. Even in churches. Part of this “progression” includes the general societal consensus that a traditional father role is problematic. Ironically, feminism does not work in reverse, as society’s modern philosophy develops contempt for gender roles of any kind there is one role that only women can fill to social satisfaction. It is the role of parent. The only way a man can safely participate in this from the world’s perspective is if he’s a “Mr. Mom.” Otherwise, he’s expected to sit in a recliner watching sitcoms with characters just like him, one hand in his waistband, and the other on a tv remote.

Don’t believe me? Consider every example in modern entertainment. Men are either “cro-magnon sperm-donors” or “Mr. Mom” there is no acceptable version of: “father” to be found any longer. From Al Bundy of “Married with Children” (cro-magnon), to Danny Tanner, to Homer Simpson of the Simpsons (need I explain?), to  Joel Graham from “Parenthood” (Mr. Mom). We will never again find a Charles Ingalls, John Walton, or Ward Cleaver in popular entertainment. In fact, even families with any children at all are becoming unusual in entertainment today. (I would love to discuss the Adam Braverman character from “Parenthood” as the token partial “throwback” however that would take me on a longer tangent than I’m already on…)

Ok… a  few more sentences on this tangent. When I watched the show (“Parenthood”) I did relate significantly with the Adam Braverman character.  I realize that I’m little more than a partial throwback to the strength that used to be admired in fathers. Yet even a partial throwback has become too much for society to tolerate. If you naively believe otherwise it’s only a matter of time before your values will be challenged.

Belinda Brown shares an insightful female perspective here.

So here I am, a “hindrance to progress” with my “backward ideas” about fatherhood; now standing accused of a figment from the demented imagination of some very disturbing people who have established themselves as authorities on parenting. Ironically, the main culprit, is not even a parent herself. Twisting an accident (as attested to by multiple medical personnel) into an act of violence based almost entirely on my nerve to describe my faith and what it means to be an involved father.  A million times since have those demons (and my attorney) reminded me: “if you’d only been an uninvolved father, if only you told her what she wanted to hear: that you leave the parenting to the woman of the house.”

She didn’t like my idea of what it means to be a father, and therefore declared me guilty of abuse. To do this she was willing to fabricate a list of “confessions” from me and sign her name to it. I can only imagine how she justifies the lies in her own mind. In her own mind she’s “protecting children”, but in real life she’s victimizing fathers who have the nerve to still lay claim to their God-given role in the household. I imagine the post-abortive mother has a similar method of rationalization. In her own mind, she’s “protecting her child”, but in real life…

My feelings are still raw. I doubt they will ever dull for the rest of my life after having experienced this injustice, but there’s something much more important here. I’m hardly the first to be a victim of injustice.

You see, the big shenanigan that I’m really guilty of, is allowing my children to fail, allowing my children to cry, and not always rescuing them from their own conundrums. We have 6 of them, and so far we’ve found that they learn pretty quickly that certain situations merit tears and others don’t. You see? I admitted to a non-parent that I watch my children approach stairs, I hide, and watch, and if they endanger themselves I rush in to rescue them at that second. This has worked with all my children. After a few events I still watch them, but they don’t endanger themselves. Then after a few more events, I simply trust them. Just because I trust them doesn’t mean we don’t have accidents, but we didn’t put up a baby gate, that led (partially) to an accident, and that accident led to my values verbalized, and my values verbalized led to false accusations.

God’s parenting skills aren’t subject to feminist ideology and slanderous bullying.

The more important thing in the midst of these raw emotions is God. God our Father.  God my Father. If He’s who He says He is, wouldn’t He behave the way He does? God’s parenting skills aren’t subject to feminist ideology and slanderous bullying.

If God behaved the way “the world” expects a Father to behave, He’d be putting up “baby gates” all over the place. He’d intervene every time we endangered ourselves and we could live recklessly without concern. Yet that’s not what He does. Instead, He gives us free will, and loves us enough to stay out of our way for the most part. That’s why John 14:17 says: “The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.”

The more “progressive” society becomes, the less capable of recognizing our Father it is. As society redefines what it means to be a father, our Creator Father becomes more alien to them. For most, this is all the evidence they need to believe that they have no Heavenly Father at all, because in their minds, if they did, then: “he could never allow such things to happen.” But in real life… He must, otherwise we’d be slaves, even animals, but not beloved and trusted children. Sometimes He even allows His child to die. Here’s what Jesus had to say about that: “If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”  (John 14:28)

As I am wondering when/if I should intervene to rescue him, doesn’t God know exactly when the time is right?

If He’s who He says He is, wouldn’t He behave the way He does? He is omnipotent and omniscient far beyond myself as I vigilantly hide watching my son walk into the mud I’d warned him to stay away from. As I am wondering when/if I should intervene to rescue him, doesn’t God know exactly when the time is right? If/when it turns out there are some unexpected bees, or thorns, about to make my son’s ordeal worse, is there anything unexpected for God? “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give …” (Luke 11:13) !!!???

So here I am, stuck in some mud, stung by bees, scraped by thorns, and crying out for God to show Himself and rescue me. The son, telling my own Father, how to parent me. How silly I am when I tell God what’s best for me. So much more silly than my 7 year old telling me that he should play video games all day long. Why so much? Because, my opinions are not always going to be better than my kids’. God’s opinions are always better.

If He’s who He says He is, He would behave the way He does!

3 0