The Great Awokening

First a little background. I came to faith seventeen and a half years ago. Old enough to be a spiritual grown up, young enough to still count half years. I was a husband and a father and I knew that I was ill equipped to fulfill my duties in either role in the way that my newfound savior would expect. I had grown up in the church and understood a few basics, but that was about it. So I threw myself into the deep end and sought to learn about God as quickly as possible. That is where this blog originally came from. A Bible reading project leading into a desire to make up for decades of lost time as I viewed it.

A Christian man (I forget his name) found out that I was new to the faith and challenged me to believe and be baptized. Then he asked me what being baptized means and I said that it was a water dunking. He responded with the first Greek word I’d ever heard. Baptizo. He told me that to be saved, you must repent/believe and then be engulfed and overwhelmed by the gospel. Halfhearted Christianity was not salvific and I needed to mature and grow, which just so happens to be exactly what I was looking for.

Rather than invite me into a discipling relationship, he told me to purchase “Desiring God” by John Piper and I read that book chapter by chapter alongside another blogger whose name you would recognize. I was being challenged with ideas that had never occurred to me before and he was my lifeline as I questioned these concepts and heard his take on them.

That was a worldview altering Book. I learned that Christianity is not rules to follow and a savior to resolve my failures. I learned that it is a lifelong battle to seek the greatest joy available, and that joy is found only in God. I now had a foundation to build upon!

Over the next few years, I attended several pastor’s conferences. seeing men preach, men whose books and broadcasts I had been soaking up. Mark Dever, Russell Moore, Albert Mohler, David Platt, Tim Keller and pretty much anyone associated with The Gospel Coalition. My personal favorites were John Piper, John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul. I was a bit bothered by the elevated platform these pastors had in relation to the many pastors who paid for tickets to these events, but the delivery and the richness of content they provided me was invaluable.

Time went on and I grew in the knowledge of my faith by leaps and bounds. Before I knew it, controversies arose among the Christian blogs. My skills as a believer in sola scriptura were put to the test. It was helpful that I came to faith while reading my Bible in its entirety and it was essential in these times that my memory for various passages would make recollections quickly and accurately. I credit the Holy Spirit.

Many topics came and went with various bloggers sharing their stance, and supporting it with biblical references and concepts. We debated the drinking of alcohol, the continuation of spiritual sign gifts, whether children killed in abortion were taken directly to Heaven, and much more. I remain shocked that we never debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. And through all of these debates, my ability to support my stance by the Bible was exercised and strengthened.

And that exegetical strength was put to the test by the Emergent Church. Well, not really. I had enough of a foundation by then that the postmodern Emergent authors rang hollow to me. Sure, some of their complaints were valid, but at the same time their solutions were just vacuous and lacking in any reliable biblical sense whatsoever. If any value was found in their messages, it was that the churches ought to pursue a grace filled authenticity often found in simplicity over complexity. Virtually everything else they shared was rooted in anti-Christian paganism that they would attribute to their post-Christian missional way of thinking. Thankfully, very few of their concepts are overtly found in churches today. With a few notable exceptions.

They advanced notions of social-justice in their conversations, for one. That doesn’t sound so bad to us now, but whenever you hyphenate a concept that is owned by God alone, you begin to undermine His authority in that realm. God defines justice in His law passed down through Moses, and the social-justice of the Emergent Church contradicted that law. Just as the various hyphenated justice statements of the Woke today contradict the Law of God, and thus are not justice at all, but cheap imitations of it. Before you redefine something, first you must reject its original definition.

The various celebrity pastors mentioned above rightly rejected the Emergent movement as pagan. God has been very clear in how we are to approach Him and the practices of the Emergent Church were strange fire before the Lord. As time went on, the EC pastors faded away or converted their teaching to something more orthodox. The celebrity pastors, especially John Piper, were quick to come alongside these men and guide them on a path that was true to the Bible.

How’s that for an intro?

Over time, these various pastors started to reveal that they were not who we thought they were. I first came to this realization when I noticed some troubling tweets from Thabiti Anyabwile, a prominent contributor at The Gospel Coalition. He was openly pushing for leftist causes that are contrary to the laws of God. I pushed back with scripture verses. You know, the really obscure ones like “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not murder,”you know, the ones that most leftists don’t like to think about. He didn’t relent so I copied The Gospel Coalition directly and asked them to step in, since he was using their website and their name in defiance of what one would expect from any publication with the word “Gospel” in it.

Crickets. There came no response. And none of the other TGC members or contributors gave any counter to what he was saying. I lost all hope in The Gospel Coalition as a whole when I happened to see this article.

In church yesterday, leading up to the most contentious election I have ever witnessed, with one candidate who spoke at the national Right to Life march and the other one going on record as wanting to expand abortions without limits in the US and abroad, all paid with our tax dollars, the pastor went so far as to tell us to know what the issues are and to vote through a biblical lens. He did bring up the great evils that a leftist would champion, but he did not name any persons or parties to vote for or against. That has been the norm in churches throughout our country. True Christians oppose killing babies, mutilating young children, stealing from your neighbor, and more. One party champions doing things like this and most pastors are too afraid to endorse against it. Why? Because then they could lose their listeners who love darkness rather than light (John 3:19) and worse yet, they could lose their tax exempt status.

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.

Luke 16:13-14

Right about now, you’re probably expecting me to tell you to vote straight ticket Republican. I won’t do that. I will remind you of what I said in my last post though. One day you will give an account for every word that you utter, every time you gave or withheld comfort from someone, every time you spent the money that God gave you to manage in ways that are dishonoring to Him. And you will give an account for your positive affirmation of how a candidate has declared he or she will use the authority that you are handing them. And I don’t want to say that I hated my God and my Neighbor by endorsing the destruction of children made in God’s own image.

Maybe you’re cool with that. Thabiti Anyabwile certainly is. And so is The Gospel Coalition. They are more concerned about the coalition than they are in the gospel and don’t let them say otherwise. So very few “celebrity pastors” have remained firm against the onslaught of wokeness, which I haven’t even defined. And honestly I couldn’t fit all there is to say in a single blog post. But wokeness is antithetical to the gospel. It denies that every debt to God was paid by Jesus on behalf of His elect. It denies that true reconciliation can only be found in the gospel. It denies that reconciliation is even attainable. There is only the punishment of your oppressors. No Justice, No Peace? To be woke is to deny the one who defines what justice and peace even are.

Most of the men who I soaked up everything they ever published have turned out like this. They have built their houses upon the sand and I pray for their repentance. I saw glimmers of this in John Piper a few years ago when some racial unrest was happening but the subject changed and he stopped speaking about reparations for sins that he didn’t commit and I thought it was done and over with. Now he has equated the murder of a million babies per year with someone being arrogant. This is the logical progression from the Emergent Church that rejected objectivity. The Emergent Church rejected the notion that the Bible is the final authority in how we ought to live, favoring emotion and the inclusion of heterodox methods of discernment. A breeding ground for wokeness.

I used to suggest John Piper books and recordings to everyone I know. I thought Mark Dever was today’s architect of how a church ought to function. I thought Al Mohler and Russell Moore had the worldview that every Christian ought to share. I thought Kevin DeYoung and David Platt were the next generation of faithful teachers of biblical truth. I thought Tim Keller was a trustworthy deep thinker worthy of being followed. The list goes on.

There are exceptions to be found, but for today I’m once bitten twice shy. If some of the names I’ve shared are concerning to you as well, and you would like some more information, I will suggest you subscribe to AD Robles on YouTube. Also, I am in the middle of an eye opening book called The Woke Supremacy that will give you a much better definition of wokeness as well as the ramifications of it on our society.

They say not to have any living Christian heroes and now I know why that is. My Christian faith is not shaken in the slightest, but I am saddened by what I have seen. And I’ll need to look at the publication date before I offer a copy of Desiring God to anyone I am discipling.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain-if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith-just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Galatians 3

P.S. Though their names appear in this post, I believe John MacArthur to remain a faithful minister of the gospel and R.C. Sproul has passed away leaving a legacy of faithfulness to the gospel. I have tertiary theological beliefs that differ from both of them, but I am thankful that God has preserved some who have not bowed the knee to the marxist wokeism that can be seen in our culture and in our churches all to much.

P.P.S God will preserve his church, sometimes by allowing fools to expose themselves. Romans 1 calls this “giving them over.” I pray that I am premature in this thinking.

Doing politics as a Christian

Long time readers will likely not see anything out of the ordinary here. Newer readers to my blog just might. You see, I once operated under a certain set of assumptions. Then, 17 years ago, all of my assumptions were challenged and shown to be left wanting. Now, I still remember these assumptions, all too often I echo them, and sometimes I measure them up against the Bible to see if these assumptions are so. This is one of those times.

What is the determining factor to determine who leads the executive branch of the US Government? If you’ve been through a civics class (and based on the reactions out there I don’t believe most Americans have) each state tallies a vote of their citizens (or residents if they are foolish) and the winner of that state takes a certain amount of electoral votes. Each electoral vote is good for you getting one elector, a person who will submit the vote on your behalf in the electoral college. Win a majority of the electors and you win the presidency. Theoretically.

If I were teaching a government class, I would accept that answer. If I am teaching a Bible class, I would accept the answer with the understanding that ultimately it is God who places rulers in power. Don’t believe me? Read Romans 13:1 again. If that doesn’t do it for you, try Daniel 2:21. Need some red letters? Read John 19:11. God not only places every leader into power, He places leaders who are both good and evil into power for His reasons, not necessarily yours.

So there you have it. Votes do not ultimately determine the winners of elections. God places people in power and he removes them from power. There is no authority on earth that God has not ordained. Therefore, failing to vote for candidate A over candidate B is not the same thing as voting for candidate B. Or is that candidate C? Is candidate C Kanye West or the Libertarian Party nominee? And does it matter in the end? Why vote? To be a responsible citizen? Yes. But even more, we participate in our local governments as an act of worship. “Do all to the glory of God” is the command given in 1 Corinthians 10:31 and if you look up the Greek word for “all” in that verse, it directly translates to English as “all.” No exclusions.

So as you ponder who to vote for this November, remember that you are not installing a person into power, but you are casting your vote as a showing of faith in the One who holds the heart of every leader in His hands. That reference is found in Proverbs 21:1, if you’re wondering. Likewise, if you decide not to vote, that is your right as well. Offhand, I can’t think of any rights that we have that don’t inherently include the right to abstain. The right to speak includes the right to remain silent, as just one example.

It can be difficult to decide how best to vote to the glory of God. Many Christians look for the lesser of two evils approach, which is really absurd if you think about it. All that you know of the evils of the candidates has been told to you by a media that decides not only how to present the stories, it decides what stories to present and what stories to ignore. If the lesser of two evils is your stance, you are a fool who is carried along by the news media, that is not only biased, they are unwilling to acknowledge their bias. Besides that, you are entering the realm of legalism, where you are able to determine which of the candidates is less evil and more pure, deserving of your vote.

Allow me to present an alternative.

In our system of government, the voters are the owner/employers and the candidates are the job applicants. The campaign process is like an extended job interview and the vote is the consensus decision on who should hold the position. Our loyalty is to God, not to any political party. It is never the responsibility of the voter to support or oppose any candidate. Rather, it is the responsibility of the candidate to earn my vote. No voter should be expected to compromise the moral standards of God in order to avoid a worse fate from the opposition. We should never vote against someone, but the candidate needs to provide reasons for us to vote for them.

One day we all will give an account. And I pray that when I do, I can tell God that I voted, not to sway the election, but to demonstrate my fealty to Him. We we not given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of self control. (2 Tim 1:7) So to vote against the candidate who you fear the most is antithetical to your testimony of God’s power.

God is sovereign. Nothing happens outside His will. All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. In light of these things, let us vote, or not vote, to the glory of God. If you can vote for someone to the glory of God, do so in peace. For me and my house, we vote for the one who has shown an allegiance to the sanctity of life. And yes, we do vote knowing that the opposing party is fully immersed in platform planks that are in direct opposition to every one of the ten commandments. Except maybe commandment #2.

Can you give your vote, your positive affirmation, to someone who wants to expand the baby killing in this country? Can you vote for someone who affirms the delusion that there is more than one gender? Can you vote for someone who believes in an economic system that relies on breaking the tenth commandment not to covet? If you answer yes to any of this, I invite you to read the last verse from Romans 1 again.

Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:32

Let he who has ears hear.

After all this is over…

I’m not sure what things will look like on the other side of this, but I am confident that after this season of hidden things being exposed, we will be stronger for it. People who you thought you could trust to the end have been revealed to be two dimensional friends. People who you disagreed with for tertiary reasons have been shown to be trustworthy.

We will get through this though. Not without realignments. Not without painful separations. But we will get through this. Stronger than before. The hysteria will end far later than it should, but it will end. You will rely on people you didn’t know beforehand and you will trust old friends as much as you trust a fart after a trip to Taco Bell.

From a religious standpoint, this era has been painful to say the least. I had my suspicions about certain “Big Eva” pastors before COVID and the Intersectionality riots, but they have certainly been confirmed in these months. Not only have they been confirmed, but names who I held in high regard once are now meaningless to me. Albert Mohler, Tim Keller, Jason Meyer, Andy Stanley, Mark Dever, pretty much anyone in The Gospel Coalition (which is more interested in the coalition than in the gospel) have been revealed to be gospel redefiners, which is to say that they are gospel deniers.

I came to faith in my 30’s and I wanted to make up for lost time. I read my Bible and poured myself into learning everything I could. I looked for faithful pastors who would saturate me with a view of the gospel that was compelling. I read books, listened to sermons, compared my faithlessness from before with the expectations that God has for those whose hearts of stone are replaced by hearts of flesh. I wanted nothing greater than to be faithful to this high calling.

As time has gone on, most of these “celebrity pastors” have shown themselves to be unworthy of following. The most faithful pastors have generally been those without large followings and with nothing to lose. There are exceptions, of course, but I don’t intend to proclaim anyone famous as a faithful teacher until they have been dead long enough for any secrets to come forth.

Meanwhile, we are in a situation where people in the spotlight and people in the local arena are shown for who they are, and many of them are not who we once thought they were. Perhaps this is painful because we didn’t want to be wrong about them. Perhaps we had thought the best of them and found out later that the best just wasn’t the case.

Any way you look at it, people are showing you who they really are. The masks are coming off, no pun intended. You will be surprised. You will be disappointed. If you are wise, you will learn not to place your trust in the flesh of this world, but rather in the eternal faithfulness of the only one worth worshiping. Your only hope is not found in man, but in God. He has defined the terms and He has demonstrated His justice already.

Accept His definitions and His finished work. To quote Heisenberg of Breaking Bad fame, “No Half Measures.” Jesus does not add to your works. He is your works. Adding to them is actually a subtraction. Trusting in your deeds, however many or few, is folly.

Psalm 2:12

CHAZ is the new Tiger King

My fascination with CHAZ is a lot like my previous fascination with Tiger King. Both are train wrecks filled with terrible people doing terrible things to other terrible people, terribly. CHAZ is a six block area in Seattle and the name means “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” According to the signage on the barriers surrounding the zone, they are no longer a part of the United States of America, hence the term “Autonomous.”

I’m not sure what is autonomous about begging others for food because you didn’t think that far ahead. They do have some huge demands against the rest of society, which is odd seeing that they are no longer a part of our country, according to their own statements. More realistic demands they have made include cigarettes, clothing, and tents. Oh, and sunglasses! They have defined their border with a wall. They patrol that border with scary looking guns. They have no police, but they do have “warlords” who apparently don’t see eye to eye with each other.

BLM members have started to complain that the Antifa agenda is pushing out their desired utopian societal demands. The… um… peacekeepers are already accused of many extortion charges and Seattle’s 911 has been called to that area at a much greater rate than previously, but the group declares itself autonomous and won’t allow authorities in.

Unless there’s a dumpster on fire in there. And of course, there was.

You couldn't feed ONE person with this garden

The community garden is a great metaphor of their worldview. It is way too small. It is only an inch deep. The ground underneath hasn’t been prepared so the roots of their plants won’t take hold. And some of their life saving plants include geraniums. Is that flower even edible?

I’m not sure what I would do if I were in charge of a city with a non-autonomous zone like this. They should be shut down. They should not be allowed to leech community resources if they are to be their own country. They should be assisted with the legal steps to renounce their citizenships if that is truly what they desire. They should be allowed to continue for now, if for no other reason than they highlight the idiocy of their worldview. All people are to be respected. Not all ideas share that biblical protection.

This will end. It will not end well. They do not have a center that can hold. The city of Seattle is just fine with it for now, and for the moment, I’m popping a tub o’ corn. But like everything else in 2020, the situation as well as my reaction to this can turn on a dime.

That’s a mic drop.

10,000 Papercuts

Just about any husband says that he would die for his wife. What we have in mind is usually a heroic, quick death. Taking a bullet on her behalf, pushing her out of the way of a train. You know, the kind of deaths that you see as meaningful.

But how many husbands would glamorize a slow death that lasts a lifetime? If we give our lives away to Jesus by loving our wives as Christ loved the Church, and if we are called by Him to die to self daily, then prolonged death is actually what we’re supposed to be doing.

Ask yourself, “How am I denying myself for the sake of my wife?” While you’re at it, how are you denying yourself for the sake of your neighbor? Your church? Your enemy?

Stop Smoking Day

I had my last cigarette five years ago today. Even now, there are times when I have a craving . And when I do, I remind myself that I am no longer a smoker. That isn’t who I am anymore .

Sounds overly simple, doesn’t it? No looking at how much money I’ve saved. No factoring of health improvements. Not even the social changes that come when you are no longer part of the smoking circle. My entire strategy to continue as a non-smoker comes down to a matter of identity.

Identity is a great tool in making any change. Sure, you can try harder. You can reward yourself. You can use any number of behavior modification techniques, but what finally got me to quit smoking after twenty years was a change of identity. I decided that not only was I going to quit smoking, I was no longer going to identify as a smoker.

I chose to remove any version of smoking from the list of my identifiers. In Biblical terms, I repented of my smoking. And I continue to repent regularly of my smoking every time I deny myself by reminding myself that I am no longer that person who smoked.

Smoking is an unwise behavior. Is it sinful for a Christian? It can be a form of idolatry, just as gluttony or sexual behaviors or a host of other things can be an idol that traps a person in failed promises. And just like anything that brings dishonor upon God, the only response we are to have is repentance.

  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 ESV