Sunday, November 27, 2016

Walking the Road to Bethlehem: Mary learns she will bear the Son of God

Audio Message:

Welcome, officially to the Christmas season. As we call it, “advent.”Why do we have this season of advent? What is advent? Advent literally means “the arrival.” And specifically, the arrival of an important individual. So this advent season we’re going to be taking a journey, to recall and refresh in our minds the advent, the coming of the most important person who ever lived: Jesus Christ.

Why do we remind ourselves of the coming of Jesus? I always wondered that as a child. The reason is very simple: The cares of this world, job, college, family, and the various pleasures of life can crowd out the true center of our lives, which is Jesus. So every year we celebrate the Christmas season to ensure that Jesus Christ remains at the center of our hearts and lives.

Today we’re talking about a young girl named Mary. We’ll be in Luke chapter 1 if you want to open your Bibles to there. So Mary was about 14 or 15 years old when she was visited by a messenger of God. Which is about the age of one of our corps cadets. But let’s go back in time for a moment.

Mary had a very dear friend named Elizabeth. Elizabeth was 88 years old, so a grandmother sort of figure in young mary’s life. And Elizabeth was married to Zechariah, a priest of his time. Zechariah received a message from God that his wife Elizabeth, 88 years old, will give birth to a son, and he will be called John. Immediately after she finds out, Elizabeth traveled about 80 miles to visit Mary. That’s no short journey for an 88 year old woman who is pregnant. But she made the journey, probably because when any of us end up in a surprising situation we seek out a close friend to help us understand what we’re going through.

Six months later, Mary, 14 or 15 years old, is living in Nazareth, and is waiting to be married to Joseph of Bethlehem. Historians believe Mary was 14 or 15 because that was the Jewish age when women were betrothed to be married. But sometimes it could even occur as young as 12 years old.

Despite being so incredibly young, God chose Mary for an incredible mission. God’s messenger appears to Mary one day, and he says to her “Greetings to you who are highly favored, The Lord is with you.” Would there be any sweeter words to hear from a messenger of God? I don’t think so. We often wonder how we’re doing in our walks with Jesus. Most days I feel like I’m screwing it up completely. And what I wouldn’t give for a few words from God, to tell me that I’m doing OK and he still has me.

Verse 37 of Luke chapter 1, “No word from God will ever fail.” It says that Mary was troubled by the angel’s words to her. And Gabriel replies, “Don’t be afraid, for you have found favor with God.” Gabriel tells her that though she is a virgin, the power of the Lord will come upon her and she will give birth to the son of God.

And young Mary’s response is quite simple, yet infinitely profound. She replies, verse 38: “38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

That is the right answer when God asks us to do something. Mary believed the messenger of God, and said “may it be so.” Essentially she said, amen, yes it will actually happen this way!

In contrast, 6 months earlier when Zechariah Elizabeth’s husband was told about the birth of John the Baptist he replied, Matthew Chapter 1 verse 18: ““How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” In sharp contrast to Zechariah, Mary, all of 15 years old or so, says “I’m the Lord’s servant. May it be done as you’ve said.”

We think of Mary the mother of Jesus as a glowing figure of history. But it’s really important to remember that Mary was just an ordinary, average, everyday girl, probably living a very modest life. She lived in an insignificant town, like say Wausau Wisconsin where I’m from, or Escanaba Michigan. Just a run down, dumpy little village called Nazareth.

Mary was a humble girl from a humble town. She was lowly. And she was faithful. A quiet, everyday believer, young, but with sincere faith in God. And she is told by an angel of God that she will bear the savior of the world. She is told she is pregnant.

Now if this was just a legend, just a myth, we might expect that when Joseph finds out Mary is pregnant he leaps for joy because he’s going to be the father of the messiah. But this isn’t a legendary story, it’s a factual, historical account. And that isn’t what Joseph did. What would you do if you found out the girl you were engaged to was suddenly pregnant? And she says it was “God.” Yeah, uh huh. Sure it is.

Matthew chapter 1 verse 19 says “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

He finds out Mary is pregnant and he says, well I’m gonna divorce her! But he’s obviously got strong character because he’s going to do it quietly to protect her from public disgrace.

This doesn’t read like a legend or a myth, it reads like real life. It reads like a historical record. Joseph does what any of us might do, he decides to divorce Mary because shes pregnant with someone elses child.

Joseph is probably back at his house, very upset about this situation, and he’s thinking about what to do. He falls asleep and he has a dream in which the angel of the Lord appears to him. And this messenger says, Matthew 1:20-21 ““Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”And only then is the marriage between Joseph and Mary secured.

Essentially, with God anything is possible. He makes the impossible, possible in our lives. I know this personally. This is the part where faith, trust, and belief become necessary. Because by all outward appearances, it just isn’t possible. How can the 88 year old Elizabeth give birth at her age? How can Mary give birth to Jesus without coming together with a man? How can this angel appear to people and give them messages from God?

Yet we’ve seen God time and again do the same in our own lives. One of the purest moments we can experience as believers in Jesus is when we realize for an instant that what has just happened is impossible yet it has happened and did happen and is possible because God almighty has made a personal action in reality to generate the miraculous.

For some of you in this church it was when you looked into Bonnie’s eyes and saw her beholding the face of God. For some of you it was watching Bob overcome his skin condition. For still others it was watching Stanley miraculously overcome stage four cancer. And again, for me and for all of us, as we heard that Jase’s internal organs were not growing and his life was in danger and the doctors couldn’t explain it, how his organs miraculously started growing again. For Major Ralph and Debbie when 30 years ago God called them from their previous lives to become officers and pastors. And for me, when thrice I was in mental hospitals, detoxes, rehabs, and finally ICU emergency rooms near death, shackled to drug addiction, trying to quit for the 50th time, and finally calling out to Jesus and those unbreakable shackles shattered from around my wrists and I was set on a course to serve God with my whole life.

And I’m certain I’m only scratching the surface as far as just the people in this chapel, but think of all the miraculous events across the planet and across time! So when people tell me a virgin can’t give birth to the son of God, all I can say is I’ve seen miracle after miracle my whole life, not to mention the galaxies, the sun, the moon, and the stars, and the human race, nature, and animals all perfectly tuned and set up to provide for equilibrium and life, so don’t tell me that these are just legends and myths, don’t tell me you can’t believe in Jesus the son of God. Everyday when we open our eyes we’re surrounded by a world of exponentially inspiring miracles. If your heart is too brutalized and darkened to see the truth, well that’s very sorrowful, but for those of us who can see the obvious, the power of God came upon a 14 year old girl named Mary and made her to be pregnant with the son of God. And that’s the truth of life. The impossible, becomes possible. And that is of no difficulty to an omnipotent God.

Believe. Just believe, and stop doubting. Don’t be like Zechariah, the old fool who questions the angel saying “How can this be so?” Instead believe, and reply, “I am the Living God’s servant, and may it be so as His word says.”

God uses the willing heart. So we must seek to be obedient. And we believe that Jesus Christ the son of God was born into human history to set us free from our sins. And it all started with an average girl in an average town with an average fiancée, encountering a not so average God. Be obedient to that message. Choose to believe God’s word. Not only is it historically reliable and based on eye witness accounts, the evidence of it’s power to transform the world is present all across the nations, from China to India to Zimbabwe and Tanzania, France, Pakistan, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, the United States, and even all the way to the little sea side town of Escanaba Michigan. The evidence is clear, so believe.

In conclusion, during this month of advent, as we journey to the virgin birth and reinvigorate this timeless saga in our minds, I encourage you to crack open your Bibles, explore the Christmas saga. Read the opening accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Set the Christmas history of our Christian faith anew in your mind, as the foundation of your calendar, the foundation of your life, that God so loves the world that he sent his son Jesus Christ, God with us, to be born of a virgin, to live a sinless life, and offer his life as a sacrifice on the cross to free you from the shackles of sin, give you new birth into his family and eternal life in heaven forever. 

Mary said “yes” Now you, say yes!” 

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Battle for the Soul of America: Progressivism vs. Americanism

Gondolin, via Wikimedia Commons
Time and again humanity on this Earth comes to the brink of collapse.  We live in a world where there is a rather large pit of darkness.  And many times a century from this pit flows a mammoth flood of evil, in many a form, threatening to crush civilization.  

Our present era is no different.   First our ancestors faced down Germany in the 1st and 2nd world wars.  Then came threat of totalitarian communism and genocide flowing out of the Soviet Union.  In the 60s and 70s came the threat of rabid secularism and the "progress" agenda.  Today perhaps the greatest threat we face is the threat of organized, entrenched, institutionalized cultural Marxism which has been functioning for some time now, and is now moving into the production phase, having conquered the educational system in public schools and colleges, they are now turning out "progressive" revolutionaries by the hundreds of thousands.  

This is nothing new.  Humanity has faced this threat time and again by those who, driven mad in the zeal to create a fictional utopian future, and perhaps more so, those with a rage against the religious and traditional values of a society, rally in contrarianism and critical theory to rip down everything around them in their arrogance and vengeful anger against a moral and religious order that offends their debased relativistic naturalist dogmas.

Most people are not aware of this.  Most especially the young are filtered into the superstructure of indoctrination into this worldview system never understanding that those who seek to subvert and supplant the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and moral underpinnings of the security of our society are building a "progress" agenda effectively placed firmly on mid-air, that is, vague opinion, suspect scientific studies that may or may not be biased, feelings, emotions, and "whatever feels right" at the moment to those who control this hegemony. 

The narrative is of constant "progress."  Yet progress is not what we see with our eyes or hear with our ears.  If it weren't for the internet, radio, and new media very few would be able to connect progressivism to the disappointments we see and hear. Yet new media has scored some huge victories.  It was almost as if thirty six star fighters, X-wings and Y-wings in the form of new media, attacked the death star of the mainstream media, with seemingly little hope of victory.  The battle ensued, and one by one the mainstream media seemed to be defeating the new media with a constant stream of propaganda.  Yet with moments remaining, a few starfighters left charging the trench, and those two proton torpedoes were fired.  Yet whoever it was at those controls shut down their targeting computer.  And they trusted in God to take control in that moment and lead things in a new direction.  Amazingly, the death star exploded in brilliant fire and destruction.  The enemy had been vanquished, yet not defeated.  

Ultimately, it was not the slick messaging, or amazing strategic skills of new media sites or podcasts or the Trump campaign, ultimately it was God almighty who effected a victory.  Does this mean Trump is God's man?  Not at all.  I have no idea how that all works.  But I am certain that God is always at work in the world.  

We should not be surprised at the incredible struggle we face on a national level.  If I were in charge of the kingdom of Satan on Earth during the 21st century my first and only target would be the United State of America.  Without America China and Russia could easily plunge the world into authoritarianism and darkness.  Without America the great evils in the middle east could run amuck upon Europe and Africa with little threat of reprisals.  Without America there would be no "good guys" around the bend who could sweep in deus ex machina style to save the day at the last moment.  There would be no good guys left, just the darkness.  So it's no wonder that Satan and his kingdom seek to rip down America with all manner of chaos.  

We as the church of Jesus Christ, growing and prevailing throughout the last two thousand years of history, are much like the white city in the Lord of the Rings universe.  Gondor the white city is supported and protected by the elves, representative of God's angels and spiritual forces that guide the church and protect it.  Gondor's realm is charged with constantly checking the darkness.  There is no way to march into Mordor and finally defeat it.  It's always there, a craggy kingdom of fire and darkness that occasionally spews out orcs and evil beasts by the tens of thousands to destroy the kingdoms of men.  Time and again, Gondor must rally her armies, march upon the gates of darkness and crush evil as it threatens to pour itself upon middle earth.  

Yet we find ourselves in a situation much like middle earth.  The elves are leaving these lands.  Much like Christianity has begun to decline in the United States and dissolve across Europe, yet it seems to be growing by leaps and bounds in Africa and Asia.  Gondor, the church has a severe failure of leadership.  The church is molding under corrupt leaders who exalt themselves and ruin the witness of millions of sincere believers.  They turn out ghost written books by the thousands, bank off the faith of sincere believers to enrich themselves, and constantly expose the Christian worldview in the press to insult and injury via sex scandals and corruption.  

Yet Gandalf the White, the Holy Spirit rides from city to city rallying the kingdoms of men to stand against this new darkness flowing out of Mordor.  

The church of Christ is rallying on Earth.  The first signs of energy and enthusiasm of showing, despite the failures of so many charlatans.  Ultimately the church is seeking assistance from Rohan, the horseriders, the conservatives and tea party movement.  Rallying together, these two kingdoms are seeking to march against the forces of moral relativism, progressivism, the militant secularists, democratic socialists, and corrupt cultural Marxists. 

The white city burns, the white tree of Minas Tirith, the tree of liberty is aflame as the cultural Marxists attempt to destroy Gundor from within.  Yet the conservatives and traditionalists are rallying for the cause of liberty, to turn the tide of darkness.  

Can we march upon the black gates?  Can we drive our forces into the heart of darkness, to wage the battle of the last alliance?  Only time will tell. We're each born into this generation for a specific purpose.  If you find yourself aptly able to answer the challenges of your day, rest assured that is no coincidence.  We're each shaped and formed to play our part in the great saga of the human race.  We're all set forth by God, given this divine gift of choice, free will.  Make your choices, and make them good ones.  Your not a victim.  Soldiers to defend the White City are needed now, today.  I hope you'll be one of them.  We can challenge the darkness and strategically wage battle against it, in the realm of ideas, or we can sit on the sidelines, and figure others will fight it for us.  But there are no others.  Just us.  Our choices will determine the future, if we rally to fight it, we will be victorious, if we give up and sit on the sidelines, we will be defeated and driven out, and we'll watch from the ditches as the cities burn to the ground.  This is of course no exaggeration, any historian knows this has happened time and again in human history and the history of empire.  

Today, seek our Lord.  Pray for knowledge of His will for you and the power to carry that will out.  Take up your sword and shield and rally with the forces of light against the darkness.  It's up to you and the tide is beginning to turn.  Take a stand, and you can make a difference.  The great civilization is ours to defend or ours to lose.  Choose wisely. 

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Dear Liberals: Top 50 Reasons Average Americans Were Angry Enough to Vote for Donald Trump

Is it angry white people that changed the election and yielded the presidency to Donald Trump?  Maybe so.  But it wasn't just white people.  It was Hispanics, women, blacks, and millions of everyday Americans who probably prefer not to be divided up by the color of their skin.  

Why were people so angry? Perhaps we can shed some light on that. For several days after the election the phrase "Dear Liberals" was trending on twitter.  Via this hashtag many Americans spoke to the left regarding why they were so upset.  

I would like to share some examples from the last eight years, regarding why people were so angry. Many of you may be aware of these issues, some of you may not.  With the television media as it is, much of this information does not get through the screen, but is available via the web.  Enjoy (in no particular order.)

1. The mainstream television media has constantly attacked and slandered right wing politicians and causes, while giving left wing politicians and causes aid and comfort, as well as free passes on controversies - If that kind of injustice, and improperly weighted scaling doesn't upset people, what will?

2. The Left's Strident War on North Carolina - The entire state of North Carolina was assaulted by the social justice warrior culture, Hollywood, and even by over 120 nation wide businesses, plus the NBA, NFL, and NCAA for the awful crime of not wanting boys in the girls bathrooms.  If that doesn't upset conservative everyday Americans, what will?

3. The Assault on a Small Bakery in Oregon, who dared to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding -  The couple was fined over $135,000 and their appeal was denied.

4. The IRS was caught targeting conservative groups - The media went into full protection mode, and no one was held to account in any way, no one was fired and nothing was done to rectify the situation.  

5. The mainstream media blackout on the Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos - the media refused to cover the videos that showed PP selling the body parts of aborted babies to the highest bidder. In orwellian fashion, a grand jury then indicted the video-maker for attempting to buy baby body parts, no indictment for Planned Parenthood. Such injustice drives anger to the boiling point in the minds of average Americans. 

6. Obama's war on the Little Sisters of the Poor - Something is definitely wrong when the Obama administration is making war on a Catholic charity full of nuns.

7. The Obamacare disaster - It speaks for itself.

8. The Fast and Furious scandal - another scandal that the media apparently had no interest in.

9. Violence against Police Officers - And President Obama's attitude of using the BLM protests to rally his base, which led directly to more violence and bloodshed.  Police officers dying in the streets; it has been quite an astonishing trend.  Truly terrible.

10. Obama's executive orders - The presidency shouldn't have the power to legislate. 

11. Late Night Comedy Shows in the tank for Hillary - could you at least pretend to be impartial?  One thing that is truly aggravating is when partisan politics are blatantly inserted into entertainment programs.

12. Joss Whedon gathering together a gaggle of Hollywood stars to push Hillary Clinton - Just what we need, Hollywood celebrities telling us who to vote for. That doesn't upset middle America, does it?

13. Corruption at the Justice Department - First it was Eric Holder, then it was Loretta Lynch.  Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac.  Loretta Lynch pressured the FBI to refrain from investigating the Clinton Foundation.  Lynch also refused to allow a grand jury in the Clinton email investigation. 

14. Samantha Bee blasting conservatives on national TV - She trashed Ted Cruz, trashed Trump left and right, trashed everyday Americans, and it showed in the election results.  What a nasty hack, and they give her the platform.

15. MSNBC giving the platform to race-baiter Al Sharpton - MSNBC itself is an embarrassment, their pundits are the most severe, biased, nasty leftist hacks imaginable.  Truly infuriating. 

16. The Media calling everything racist - Imagine that 50% of the country don't like being constantly called racist, sexist, bigoted homophobes?  Who knew? 

17. CNN giving a constant platform to communist revolutionary Van Jones - Is it any wonder they call it the Clinton News Network?

18. The Wikileaks Emails showed severe collusion between the media and the Democratic party - It wasn't really that surprising, but it did provide solid proof of what we all knew already.

19. The View hosts - Honestly why does everything have to become a political hit-squad with these people?  Even an entertainment talk show becomes a platform to shoot propaganda to middle aged women?  Bound to make people angry.  

20. The Obama Administration war on religious freedom in the military - read up on this one, it's quite gross.

21. The Supreme Court arbitrarily redefining marriage - Essentially the Supreme Court went full progressive activist on this decision. The helplessness of the country was bizarre, as a majority of 9 justices arbitrarily forced a marriage redefinition decision on all fifty states in the union.  The leftists had failed to pass marriage redefinition measures again and again, but when the goal is to destroy the system, they can find a way somewhere to sneak in and overrule the will of the people.  The anger was huge on this one.  The media provided no outlet for that anger, in all out attack mode on conservative America, blasting anyone who dared disagree.

22. Political correctness in America - If you have an opinion that the elites don't agree with, watch out, because they can and will destroy you personally.

23. The War on Freedom of Speech on College Campuses - The special snowflakes need their safe spaces, right? 

24. The refusal of the media to cover the genocide of Christians in the middle east - It didn't fit their narrative of Islamists under attack by the imperial west.  

25. The entire media establishment constantly insisting that Trump had no chance of winning the election - They were wrong, wrong, wrong. 

26. The New York Times - Period, this leftist hit squad is the very cornerstone of media bias.  And they remain quite unrepentant.  

27. Fact Checkers that Spin for the Left - The latest attempt at propaganda from our friends on the left comes in the form "fact checkers" like Snopes and Politifact who instantly transform leftist talking points into "facts."  Who would be angry about that right?

28. Common Core - Republicans refused to fight it and now most students get to read left wing opinions and New York Times articles.

29. Professors on College campuses pushing socialism and leftism - On tax dollars, for many. Your money teaching the next generation to subvert America.  Why would Americans be mad about that?

30. Refusing to enforce immigration laws - The radical suggestion that laws should be followed meant Americans were supposedly "Islamophobic" and "heartless."  Such lies!

31. Insisting on taking in Refugees by the thousands - There was no way to vet most of these people. 

32. Blaming Radical Islamic Terrorist incidents on "work place violence" and "gun violence." - Why can't we call evil by it's name?

33. Placing Hillary Clinton above the Law - No one is above the law, no one.  Period.

34. President Obama lecturing the American people on civility - The great divider n' chief had a real skill at alinsky tactics.  One thing I won't miss is constantly being lectured by this charlatan. 

35. Not Covering the Wikileaks Emails - And blaming it on the Russians. Seriously? Come on.

36. Portraying the GOP as collapsing - When it's actually the Democrats who seem to be in a free fall.

37. Calling Donald Trump "literally Hitler" - Turns out Hillary had much more in common with the socialist dictator. 

38. Doubling the National Debt - While the media spits their "deficit" talking points.

39. Spinning the numbers on out of work Americans - Not counting those who are "no longer looking for work?"  Interesting perspective.

40.  The Attack on the Benghazi Compound - No support for our fighting men?  What happened?  The media doesn't want to talk about it, they never did.

41. The Iran Nuclear Deal - A disastrous deal, and Dems thought so too, which was revealed in the Podesta email dump.

42. The Obama administration attempting to influence the election in Israel - Obama wanted to try and oust Netanyahu. 

43. House and Senate GOP green-lighting Obama's whole agenda - Despite such intense opposition to the Obama agenda, the House and Senate GOP leadership repeatedly refused to fight on key issues like spending increases, planned parenthood funding, Obamacare, raising the debt ceiling, drafting women, and many other issues. 

44. The Federal government overruling State's Rights time and again - state sovereignty is a key part of how our country operates, but the top down governing of the left has stripped states of key rights.  

45. Activist Judges striking down Voter ID laws - Fraud is a serious issue and it must be dealt with. Yet judges override the law for partisan reasons. 

46. Issuing an order to change the bathroom policies of all public schools - Where is the will of the people in this?  Apparently the Obama administration felt they could change whatever they wanted, bypass Congress, and legislate through the bureaucracy.  That'll make people mad. 

47. The Obama Administration gave away the Internet - They handed it over, without any legislation, once again bypassing Congress, to an international body, leaving open the potential for internet censorship by corrupt regimes like China and Russia.

48. Attempting to make Climate Change Skepticism the New Hate Speech - They wanted to charge those who questioned climate change with a crime.

49. Attempting to Force Christian Hospitals to perform Abortions - Honestly, how did these leftists become such Nazis? 

50. Unrestrained, Strident Arrogance, Contempt, and Talking Down to Average Americans - In television media, in newspapers, academia, Hollywood, late night talk shows, even comedy shows, and of course politics there was a constant environment of dictating terms to everyday Americans.  There was a constant arrogance and contempt for traditional American values.  Conservatives and Christians were openly mocked by comedians, torn apart by media, and charged with crimes by the government.  The anger, it seems, is quite thorough.  And rightly so.  When people are abused, and their rights are violated, when they are mocked and ridiculed, they are to sometimes feel abused.  And they may even rebel.  Like in the case of this last election; A giant middle finger was placed before the media establishment and the elite of the country, in the form of now president-elect Donald Trump.  

This is a short list.  One could make a 250+ list given enough time. I've only scratched the surface here, off the top of my head.  That's how strident and intolerant the powerful have been toward traditional Americans and traditional American values.  Is it any wonder that the people revolted against the current establishment?  Not at all. 

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Ministry of Reconciliation: Your Life Mission Defined

So, the election happened. And boy was it a messy affair! Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up soon. Red kettle season starts tomorrow. Things are ramping up for another successful year in the Salvation Army. And in the United States, a new team is taking over the leadership. Life goes on!

Personally I'm glad that the election is over. It was a very partisan affair, quite vicious and brutal. I think many were surprised by the result.

A vast part of the country felt like they had no voice in the direction the country was going. That caused a great deal of frustration. When one view permeates the culture and the discussion while the other is neglected, people get upset.

Many during the election saw themselves as messengers for one party or the other. They went to work knocking on doors, putting up yard signs and delivering their message on the airwaves. They found a cause greater than them and went to work building it.  The dedication is quite remarkable, don't you think?  Both sides fought very hard.  And I think to myself, shouldn't we have the same zeal about carrying our living gospel into the world? We as Christians are ambassadors, and messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must carry it with zeal and tenacity. 

The word of God says, 2nd Corinthians 5:11-21 (NIV) "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

What is given to us, as regenerate believers is what the word of God calls "the ministry of reconciliation." This is a mission set to consume our lives. We must do it, because the word of God says "It's as if God were making his appeal through us." Amazing the honor that is afforded to us.

Have you ever had a conversation or a chance encounter with what seemed to be a random stranger? And that conversation gave you a chance to witness to your faith in Christ? I have. And there is nothing random about it. God foreordains such conversations and encounters because he is making his appeal through us.

Many of us are praying for our country, praying for America and appealing to heaven that God would have mercy on this nation. And it's right that we should do so. But we also have to take action. We have to do the footwork of carrying the gospel and witnessing to the power of Christ in our lives. We’re free to do so, thankfully.

This experiment called the United States is very unique in history. Some say that the whole world is just like America, but it isn't true. In fact most of the world can only dream of the freedoms we enjoy.

There were people long ago who stood up; stood up for their religious freedom, stood up for the right of representation, and stood up for their rights as beings created in the image of God. These are our ideological great grandfathers, people like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton. At that time in the 1700s Great Britain was the most powerful nation on Earth. And they fought the British, as the British attempted to raid their storehouses of ammunition and firearms. They fought a long, brutal revolution and won their independence. 

In principle they placed into law the Constitution and Bill of Rights declaring all men equal, with unalienable rights that government has absolutely no say in, because they are ordained by God.  Essentially they declared every person has rights, not given by government, but given by God, and government has nothing to say about that, government can only protect the rights people already have. Do you know how rare that is in history? 99% of revolutions end in chaos and even worse dictators taking the place of the previous regime. So we have to be so grateful that our founding fathers were almost all Christians and decided to put into law the freedom that God almighty provides to us.

Like the first patriots, men and women of future generations decided that the United States of America was so precious, so free, so wonderful, that they had to step forward and fight to protect it. That's why I'm so grateful to all the veterans out there. These people are heroes because they decided to fight and protect our country in times of need. If you see a veteran in the next few weeks, take a moment to thank them for their service and shake their hand. Veterans are like superheroes to me.  My grandfather is a veteran. I've always felt there is something special about that.  When he tells me about his service in the Korean war I'm just amazed.  It takes great courage to serve in the armed forces.  Thanks to those of you who have done so.

I've always considered myself a patriot.  I can't really abide those who endlessly trash the United States.  It's something they do called critical theory, a way of picking apart and attempting to destroy by obsessively and constantly criticizing the opposition.  There are a lot of people in this country, self absorbed individuals who feel entitled to bash America.  Now, I can understand constructive criticism, but when people bash the country just for the sake of giving themselves a sense of moral superiority, that I cannot abide.  This mindset, along with many other keys issues caused me to participate during this election season.  I felt quite compelled to be active. I followed the primaries closely and wrote articles supporting my preferred candidate. I talked to voters and discussed the issues. In fact it began to take up a large part of my life and time. If any of you noticed my Facebook newsfeed you know that. But now that the election is over, I'm looking forward to shifting my energy and focus from politics to my religious faith.

As important as politics is to the world and my life, there is something far, far more important: The gospel of Jesus Christ. There are people out there who are suffering and dying, everyday. There are people in this community, on the streets, in the bars, in the dope houses, homeless, and in jail that are desperately in need of Jesus Christ. Their very souls are at stake, every moment they hang in the balance. Young people are being led astray. Young people are dying of drug overdoses, alcoholism, and suicide, having never heard the gospel. And then they go into outer darkness. It scares me. It scares me so much because that was almost me. And I think about what hell must be like, the emptiness, the sorrow, the darkness, and it's a fate worse than death.

Yet I believe there is great reason for hope. Because people all over the world, all over America, and in our church congregations are getting active for Christ.

There are two types of Christians I believe; active and inactive. Some sit back, not really seeing themselves as on a mission. And some are missional, they are looking for opportunities to love their neighbors, invite people to church, develop relationships, and share the gospel. I've seen many people in the church sharing the message, bringing neighbors and friends to church, and inviting those they see in their lives to come to the cross. We have to do that. We have to be the church. Christ makes his appeal through us, because we are his hands and feet.

I’ve seen people in the churches being his hands and feet. And it’s awesome. I’ve seen young people, bringing friends to church. I seen older people inviting their neighbors and friends. I see people inviting strangers and acquaintances. And maybe a lot of them aren’t coming, but you are telling them and that’s being Christ to them. Great job. I see prayer warriors, praying for people outside their congregations, praying for coworkers, praying for friends, and family. If that's you, great job, your being an ambassador of Christ.

Keep it up. And as you do, don’t be afraid when the enemy attacks you. If you feel and know that your under spiritual attack, join the club. It used to scare me, I’d have nightmares, get sick, see the enemy poking at me through non-believers, but it doesn’t scare me anymore. In fact it puts a smile on my face, because I know the enemy wouldn’t be attacking me unless I was making a real impact for Christ. So when your attacked, dig in deeper, pray harder, and go out and be that ambassador for Christ even more.

There are so many things in this life that vy for our attention. We want to have the perfect body so we can attract a husband or wife. We want to meet the right person to build a life with, and maybe everything else goes out the window once we do! 

We want pleasure. We want the good life. We want to check off that bucket list. But the word of God says differently: “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” -Philippians 3:8

Do you have things in the right order in your head? Is Christ and his gospel first in your mind? That’s what I’ve been wondering to myself the last few weeks. I’ve been so obsessed with politics for one, and secondly, for finding the girl of my dreams, getting married, and having a family. Those aren’t bad things, but they have to stay in context. I have to keep my imperative right, I have to make sure my central focus is Jesus and the gospel. That isn’t easy in this world of media, televisions, ipads, ipods, laptops, xbox, cable flatscreen mounted to the elliptical at the gym, three screens on at once in the living room after work, youtube, twitter, facebook, and the world wide web.

I can get so off course in the space of a day that pretty soon my mind is wandering, and I’m starting to indulge in sinful thoughts that have no place in the mind of a Christian. So if you feel like you fail Him every single day, join the club, I feel that way too. And I can only hope that through time, study, growth, and the work of the Holy Spirit he’ll continue to conform me to the image of his Son.

The work of a Christian isn’t easy. I’ve felt so tired the last few months in the Salvation Army work that I do. I swear I can feel the Lord literally stretching my soul and abilities. It’s a good thing though, during times of trial I always emerge at the other end feeling surprised by the joy of the new spiritual muscles he’s placed upon me.

I want to carry the gospel. I want to be an ambassador for Christ, a minister of reconciliation. That isn’t just the job of the minister though. We are all the priesthood of believers. 

In fact some of the most inspiring moments I’ve heard are from people at work, at their job, or with their friends, when God opens a door for them to share their faith. My mom, a nurse, told me stories of how she witnessed to a stubborn atheist she worked with, and he got very sick and through the struggle he came to believe in God. One guy I knew started sending emails to his coworkers with religious devotionals. Several people started to gain interest, but one guy also told him to stop sending them to him. There will always be those who Satan works through to try to stop us, to scare us, and send us fleeing. But there are also those who Christ works through to save and redeem.

As the scriptures say, verse 13 of 2nd Corinthians chapter five, “If we are out of our mind it is for God.” Many see us Christians as "out of our mind."  Bible thumpers!  Jesus freaks! And if we are, it’s for their sake.

Everything is at stake. I hope you understand that. The people we see everyday are under threat of eternal disconnection from God. The stakes could not be higher. So Christ seeks to make his appeal through us, in a ministry of reconciliation. Your charged with helping reconcile; to help resolve a dispute between God and his children. That can and will be accomplished through Jesus Christ. I see us doing that as a church and it’s wonderful. 

There is one way sure way to experience the presence of Christ firsthand and that’s through carrying his gospel.

As Paul wrote “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death." -Philippians 3:10 NLT

Do you feel the same?  Not every day.  But I do hope you'll fight for that. I hope you'll be filled to the brim with God’s Spirit and I encourage you: Keep doing it. Keep sharing the gospel. Keep developing those relationships. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t shrink back. Keep inviting them to church. Don’t give up. His Spirit is with you. Jesus is working through you, in and out of season. I believe in you, and so does Jesus. Believe in Him. Amen.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Donald Trump is the President Elect: It's Time to Rebuild Our Nation on the Basis of Constitutional Americanism

Now it's time to get to work at building a better future. Trump is president-elect, but there is only one king: Jesus Christ. God is sovereign. May his will be done. And may we Christians who care about this nation stay active, and work to hold Trump accountable to the promises he has made to defend religious liberty, personal liberty, the sanctity of life, and our Constitution.

The media in this country had everyone believing that Donald Trump didn't have a chance.  Even Fox News seemed to hint that Trump had very little hope of a victory.   But the American people rose up in record breaking numbers to issue a repudiation to the corrupt progressive agenda.  The pundit class was shocked.  The political class was rocked by the news.  The business class went nuts and started selling their stocks.  The American people had been left twisting in the wind against an agenda that seemed to be pushed despite their sincere opposition.  The anger in this country is volcanic and it was released on election night. 

For me, the frustration has been quite constant.  It's one thing when ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, Bloomberg, the Washington Post, and the New York Times trash conservatives and Christians everyday.  That's frustrating enough.  But when suddenly late night entertainment shows do the same thing, and work day and night to undermine a Republican candidate...  When Samantha Bee and Amy Schumer are given a platform to trash conservatives on national television on a weekly basis...  When SNL makes sure their mockeries of the presidential debates are tailored to attack and denigrate the Republican candidate...  When Bill Maher on HBO trashes Trump as a racist and a sexist, when the Young Turks lay out assault after assault, day and night, endlessly... When dozens of celebrities push tooth and nail for Hillary Clinton...  When it's revealed from the Podesta emails dozens of incestuous connections between the Democratic national committee and gigantic mainstream media television news companies... When Americans are called "a basket of deplorables."  When Al Sharpton and Van Jones constantly race bait, and decry half of the country as white racists...  When PBS and NPR receive federal money and use it to spin to the left...  When Politifact and Snopes destroy the truth by claiming to be "fact checking" while they spin to the left and engage in sleazy biased apologetics for the Democratic party...  When the FBI refuses to recommend an indictment when Hillary Clinton clearly broke the law multiple times...  When the Justice department wages war on the state of North Carolina for the radical crime of not wanting boys in the girls bathroom...  When the Supreme Court arbitrarily changes the definition of marriage without the consent of the American people...  When the Obama administration legislates from the executive branch...  When the government refuses to defend the national borders for the purpose of genuflecting to Wallstreet execs who want cheap labor...  When the Justice department pressures the FBI to refrain from investigating the Clinton Foundation...  When Obama wages political battles against the Little Sisters of the Poor...  When religious liberty is viewed by the left as discrimination and hate... When a seemingly universal progressive entertainment media use every bit of their power and influence in partisan measures... When the IRS targets and audits conservative groups and big media refuses to hold them accountable... When scandal after scandal flowing out of the Obama administration is blacked out and uncovered by the media... When videos clearly show Planned Parenthood engaged in selling unborn baby body parts to the highest bidder and the biggest television networks refuse to cover it aside from repeating the talking points of Planned Parenthood... When a grand jury indites the person who made the undercover Planned Parenthood instead of Planned Parenthood itself... When police officers are shot and killed by race rioters and the president stokes the race fires, and more lives are lost in subsequent incidents... When the American people are bombarded on every side by a constant echo chamber of leftist media bias, progressive academia, cultural transformation, social experimentation, an entrenched elite, and an entirely unresponsive bureaucracy and Congress... To quote a great man: "They are to sometimes feel abused.  And they may even rebel."

When all these things come together, when average decent Americans are assaulted by the left without mercy, attacked, mischaracterized, slandered, bullied, pushed around, mocked and ridiculed in the press, and silenced from speaking their minds in the public arena, they are to be rightly frustrated, angry, and ready to make a serious change.   And that's where we are today.  

Donald Trump and the trump train shocked the nation on election night. He will be our 45th president.  This is an important transition in our country and it is a direct refutation of the Obama doctrine, the progressive agenda, obamacare, and the other failed policies of the left.  The people have had enough of being called sexist, racist, misogynistic, bigots for wanting to live in an America of limited government, free markets, under God, with strict adherence to the Constitution.

The media types, politically powerful and moneyed elites don't understand this.  They were puzzling all night.  Karl Rove with his white board trying to figure this out, he couldn't even hint toward the truth.  It's the same with the Wallstreet Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.  And the same for all the major leftist networks. These elites don't understand that everyday Americans aren't looking to be ruled by a centralized bureaucracy of pundits, academics, pollsters, consultants, and business mega-moguls.  

These entrenched elites can't understand how the average people of the country can't see the extensiveness of their academic and social genius as they toy with culture, wrack up the debt, and pocket the change for themselves.  

Watching the Fox News hosts puzzle over the election results was really quite hilarious, they of course never failed to prop up Paul Ryan, defend the status quo elites who rubber stamped the entire leftist agenda from 2010 to today, and they certainly couldn't acknowledge that the victory was that of the people.  To them we're just pawns to be used in their games for power, wealth, and control.  

They think we're dumb, but we aren't.  And we showed them that on election day.  How anyone could vote for Hillary Clinton is quite beyond me, but many did.  Yet the night was won by average everyday Americans who are tired of watching their country surrender to a global elite.   

Going forward, we as conservatives and Christians need to stay active in the political arena.  We need to watch Donald Trump, the Congress, and the agenda being put forward.  We need to make sure that the promises that were made to the American people are kept.  This election wasn't really about Donald Trump or even the corruption of the media or the Clintons, it was about the American people taking back the country from Marxist rats.  

We need to insist that Congress and the President do everything they can to push forward pro-life legislation, to end the awful horror of child sacrifice.  

We need to insist that Congress and the President set in stone the protection of religious liberty, conscientious objection, and freedom of conscience. 

We need to insist that Congress and the President put an end to illegal immigration and sanctuary cities.

We need to insist that Congress and the President cut federal spending to absolute minimums to curb the rise of the federal debt.

We need to insist that Congress and the President defend natural marriage as the union between one man and one woman, yes I said it!

We need to insist that Congress and the President fight day and night to amend the Constitution to add term limits for members of Congress and the Supreme Court.  

We need to insist that Congress and the President strengthen the checks and balances between the three branches of government.

We need to insist that Congress and the President reign in the administrative state that rules from the federal level unchecked by the power of the people. 

We need to insist that Congress and the President work to rebuild our military and strengthen our ties with the nation of Israel who is our friend and ally.

These and many other goals must be pushed for by we the American people.  This agenda ultimately will not be accomplished by Donald Trump, but will be accomplished by everyday Americans who stand up and demand these changes be made.  Congress must be targeted by conservatives and the Heritage sentinel movement to demand a truly conservative agenda.  And we will have to fight Trump in areas where his policies are far too culturally liberal and destructive to our economy, such as gender ideology, gay marriage, trade policy, and tariffs.  It won't be easy.  But if it had been Hillary Clinton we would've been lobbying to a brick wall.  The left are authoritarian statists, they crave power and more of it once in power.  With a Republican president, hopefully surrounded by conservatives, we will stand a good chance of leading America in the direction we know is right: One nation under God, guided strictly by the limits of the Constitution, and upheld by a well-informed conscientious majority of Americans, religious, principled, and set on propagating American Judaeo-Christian principles to their children, grandchildren, and to the entire world.

Our prayers changed this election.  But the work is just beginning. Please keep praying. Please be active in your communities.  And communicate with your elected representatives.  Be a voice of hope for a better future for the United States of America.  The door has been opened to hope and change, the Constitutional, American hope and change that we wanted in 2008; but we were conned by a Marxist alinsky ideologue.  Now we can make it right. This is what America meant by change: Constitutional conservatism, free markets, personal freedom, limited government, and the empowerment of the people.  Goodbye Alinsky Marxism, Hello Constitutional Americanism.  We will fight for it.  It's not about Trump, it's about America.

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump: Who in the World Should I Vote for?

cc 2.0 via Flickr

The big choice is before us, coming up very quickly.  Who should I vote for, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or someone else?  I think it's important that we address this issue and make a decision.

The choices we have are very flawed.  As we well know, all humanity is deeply flawed.  As Christians we may be tempted to refrain from voting in this election.  That is an abdication of our duty.  We must participate in the election process.  We are to be good stewards of our government system.  In a constitutional republic, we the people are charged with electing our leaders.  So we must participate.  If we don't, we have no reason to believe that America will ever turn around and head in a better direction.

The mainstream media has attempted to sell the narrative to us that Donald Trump is a dangerous candidate.  Is that a reality?  Well, before delving into politics, Donald Trump has run a series of businesses.  Did those businesses prosper?  Yes they did, for the most part.  Donald Trump appears by all inquiry to have followed the laws, to the best of his ability, for the prosperity of his business. Of course Donald Trump has made plenty of mistakes, and has made disgusting comments about women.  But care less about what someone says than what someone does. 

Hillary Clinton on the other hand has been mired in scandals and controversy.  The Clinton Foundation appears to be quite a corrupt organization.  Hillary Clinton also seems to have misused classified information by using a private server.  According to sources within the FBI, the agency believes five different national entities may have accessed classified information.  There are numerous other scandals and issues surrounding Hillary Clinton.  I won't go into any further here.  To learn more, view this documentary.  To learn more about "pay to play" and the Clinton Foundation view this documentary: Clinton Cash.

The media wants us to focus on the personal issues of both candidates.  What concerns me are the policies of each candidate.  What are the policies of each candidate?  Let's have a look.

                    Hillary Clinton  (Democrats)   Donald Trump (GOP)
Economy:   Tax the rich                               Cut taxes for all
Military:      Cut spending                            Increase spending
Marriage:     Pro-Gay marriage                    Pro-Natural Marriage
Abortion:     Unrestricted abortion               100% Pro-Life
Regulations:  More regulation                     Cut regulation
Healthcare:  Obamacare                              Free market healthcare
Immigration:  Open borders                        Border wall
Gender ideology: Pro-LGBT                       Supports-LGBT
Religious Liberty:  Opposes                        Strongly Supports

In the coming election I'll be voting for Donald Trump.  This was a very, very hard decision for me to make.  I think Donald Trump is awful in many regards, and solid in some regards.  But the progressive alinsky agenda of Hillary Clinton terrifies me.  She is corrupt to the core, anyone who can't see that is blind.  Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis on Saul Alinsky, the Marxist radical who dedicated his book "Rules for Radicals" to Lucifer.  Yes, it's true.  

The progressive agenda means the continuing assault on the religious institutions of the country.  President Obama has spent his presidency in an all out attack on religious institutions like the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The Obama administration has pushed for gay marriage, and fought tooth and nail to get boys in the girls bathroom based on disturbing gender ideology.  The Obama administration has brought in tens of thousands of syrian refugees, yet despite severe Christian persecution in the middle east only 0.5% of those refugees are Christians!  I don't want more of that, and that's what Hillary Clinton will bring.  Overall, I'm tired of the establishment, the mainstream media, the smarmy, slick left wing politicians and ideologues pushing their agenda on the American people, college campuses, and in our cultural institutions.  I'm tired of moneyed mainstream media elites and "fact checking" websites like Snopes and Politifact that spin to the left just as much as any other left wing news network.  I'm tired of the lies, the cover ups, the corruption in the department of justice, and the numerous scandals flying out of the Obama administration that the media has failed to report.  

Even if all of that weren't true, though it is, the simple fact that Hillary Clinton supports the murder of unborn children, up to and including partial birth abortion, is enough right there. It's disgusting and unconscionable.  For that simple reason, no Christian ought ever vote for a Democrat, unless that Democrat is pro-life and supports natural marriage.  These issues are critical and essential, the cultural Marxism pushing our society toward total depravity is a danger to your children and my children.  I don't want my children and grand-children growing up in a secular society that slaughters unborn children on the altar of convenience, and endorses and encourages marriages that the Bible declares to be sinful.  America is a Christian nation, and the radical Marxist left is pushing us toward a dangerous cliff.  

For that reason I will vote for Donald Trump.  The Republican platform is solid and conservative.  Trump's policies are solid is many key areas.  Hillary Clinton's policies are very clear too: More government, more attacks on religious freedom, more abortion, more regulations, more Obamacare, and more authoritarianism toward average Americans.  I will vote against that agenda on November 8th.   

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Friday, November 4, 2016

The Darkness of Drug Addiction

I could still feel it inside me. It had been pumping through my veins on the drive. The drive had been beautiful. It had been like a painting. I had felt like I was sitting in a painting. The music was part of the painting. Mew was playing. Beautiful riffs. Words about reaching down to touch sorrows. Now that was gone.

I sat there perplexed like an ant on an empty hill of sand. It was Spring, I sat in the grass outside the facility, as did many others. They were fellow junkies, other patients. I watched them. I watched the red cement. The sky was blue. The sun shined glossy on the wax grass landscape.

Where am I? I thought. This is desolation. This is where society tosses us. The forgotten. The losers. The failures. The ones who had sucked too hard on the nook that is the American dream. They had become addicted to it. Now they fiend for it. And so did I.

I hated them. Yet at the same time, I loved them. They were good people you see. They wore smiles on their faces. Somehow I knew they were good people. Cast out of a society that did not understand their pain. Some felt too much. Some felt too little. Some had been through hell and now could not speak. They were pariahs, lost souls, damaged and broken, sent away by society, as society said, “ We cannot deal with you anymore. You are too sad. You are too broken. “ 

Addiction, well, it's like a river of extremes.  For those who ache for something more, it's a rather sinister entanglement.  It seems so harmless at first.  And it's such a wonderful feeling, the first few times especially.  You begin walking down this road and eventually you realize that your lost.  You realize you've become addicted.  And there isn't enough left of you to fight it.  In fact it becomes impossible to fight.  It's bizarre.  It takes you, all of you.  Addiction, well, it's just a word.  But for me, it was nearly the end of my life.  It was nearly the destruction of my soul.  

No one, fully no one can really understand the extent of addiction but the addict.  It goes far beyond extreme.  All of life rotates around the drug.  All of reality bends to the drug.  Logic changes in the mind.  The material world slows down, speeds up, and my very experience of space-time is altered.  The mind is fundamentally changed by drug addiction, especially over many years.  The entire mindset is shifted to function around the drug.  It is particularly demented.  It is quite extensive.  

Grope for it if you can, it's like being unable to want something else.  So an onlooker says "just quit."  But how can I just quit?  Because I see it destroying my life, yet I can hide from that, and I love it so much, yet I hate it so much, yet I've become accustomed to it.  And I'm afraid, so afraid.  And the addiction has learned to protect itself within my mind with defense mechanisms to perpetuate the lies and self deception.  

The sad thing is you see it happen to such wonderful people.  The majority of people I encountered were not evil, or manipulative or gang bangers or murderers.  No, they were just people.  Very lost people.  Much like myself then.  They did things that were wrong.  But you could tell, at least many of them were particularly beautiful souls.  You know, like artists, painters, writers, philosophers, and political activists.  Fascinating people really!  They were people seeking something more.  Much like myself. 

For many of us, the drug was the most awful bait and switch.  The drug masqueraded as a new dimension, a new experience, a new spirituality, as an adventure.  And at first it was just that.  But suddenly it would change, switch gears, and you'd realize that while you were dreaming, seeing colors, feeling euphoria, the drug had driven a stake into your heart and made itself at home in your soul.  And soon you found yourself doing things you'd never do before.

The tunnel would grow darker and darker.  And eventually it's like your life has become so about the drug, it's become so integrated that it's impossible to imagine life without it.  That point cannot be overly emphasized. 

It would be like me or you trying to live without running water.  Or to live without any electronics.  Or without a car.  It's completely alien.  And oddly terrifying.  

When someone is truly addicted, it is quite rare for recovery to occur.  For every one addict or alcoholic who recovers long term, there are at least one hundred that die addicted.  And 1 in 100 is definitely a generous ratio.  Drug addiction is evil.  It is a plot of evil.  There is something particularly evil about it.   

People are afraid to share about it I'm sure.  The darker experiences of drug addiction are so over the top, it seems impossible that someone else could understand.  Like a prostitute or someone who is sex trafficked, they sometimes testify that it seemed spiritual, as if they were being raped by demons.  Annie Lobert shared that experience, she told her story via "I am Second."  Click here to view that on Youtube

In the darker periods of addiction, and boy does it get dark, one experiences an evil that is not simply random, but calculated and embodying personality.  Even before I realized that a good God existed, in 2011, before that, I believed in angels, because I had experienced demons.  

It's a personal testimony, and quite provocative.  But also quite reasonable.  And if you go down the dark path far enough, you'll encounter these entities.  It's that little something extra about life that doesn't quite fit the standard routine that prompts serious inquiry, don't you think?

Cut beneath the strands of drug addiction, the fuzzy colors, bizarre experiences, and late nights that feel like a dream, like trouble is somehow baked into the air itself, like there is a grim twinge to reality and life seems painted with maroons and blues, beneath the beauty and mystery something more basic is taking place, something at the base of all the chaos: Destruction.  Destruction is at the core of this saga.  It's the story and ongoing process of slow, chronic self annihilation.  It is the ultimate act of rebellion against all things, even self, to destroy, not just the world or others, but yourself.  It's based on sorrow, confusion, and the sick pleasure of it all. 

That at it's core, is a spiritual tug of war within the soul.  

Part of me to this day, a small part of me still wants that and craves it.  Through the help of Christ and recovery, I've locked that part of a me in a cage, shackled and half starved, but never dying.  

I've heard it told that the struggle within me is the story of a man who had two wolves, one was good and one was evil and they were caught in a pitch battle for dominance of his soul.  This man told his son of this truth, and his son asked him: "Which wolf wins?"  And the man replied, "The one you feed."  

Isn't that certainly true?  If I spend my time in God's word, if I spend my time working my job, and trying to the right thing, that evil within me becomes weaker and weaker over time.  If I spend my time using drugs, womanizing, bar hopping, and screwing people over money and dope, well, then the evil within gets stronger and the goodness becomes weaker.  

I can feed my flesh, or I can live by the Spirit.  That's what Paul wrote.  

The journey to the bottom, to end of one's wits is dark and excessive.  There is a state of enjoyment in self destruction that long passes, and it is only torturous, all the time.  The sorrow is permanent and hope begins to die.  Finally when the last whiffs of hope die within the addict, they accept their fate as the perpetual junkie.  All hope is lost, one wishes for death, yet death will not come, and life itself is an unbearable agony.  

Beauty had ultimately led me to the realization that God existed.  The late night walks, six days a week, two hours a night, walking at two AM among the stars, the street lights, and the silence and calm.  It was all too much for me to withstand.  It gave rise to the realization that this great designer had put things together.  Beauty, the moon, the stars and the night assured me of that.  Though the demons prodded me in the day, at night I walked alone with the stars, though not alone, for the Spirit of God went with me, not over months, but over years, slowly leading me to the place where I would cry out in infinite despair to the one who I believed could really set me free, Jesus Christ. Just one name, Jesus Christ.  

It's been four years now, and what a journey it has been, but the greatest truth is that there are far greater things ahead than any I've left behind. 

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