The Last Crusade: On Compassion and Life

I read an article over at The Federalist today by writer Mary Vought. She brought a very personal argument on letting children have the right to live, as the New Yorker brought forth an article  by  a woman who wished she aborted her child.

Additionally, as a pro-life Christian, you can imagine the frustration I felt when reading a mother lamenting the missed opportunity to abort her sick child. As one would imagine, I had an overwhelming desire to write a response that would refute every single one of her points, making a fool of her arguments and calling into question her credibility as mother and provider for her son.

But, as I read her story a second and a third time, I began to relate to her on the one item we could probably agree on—the fact that having a child with a severe illness is scary. For her, this fear seems to have manifested into anger. She writes about mothers (like me) who choose to give birth to a CF child, “The women who willingly made choices that were never presented to me and chose a child’s suffering: Sometimes I hate them. I also hate the women who were supposed to care for me. I hate the faceless people at the lab.”

The way our culture has been set up, we worship death. Our materialism has gone so far that there are women out there who would rather kill their children than love and support them through good times or bad. This needs to change, and it starts with Christians speaking out on life. God is life as surely as any of His other qualities. Being made in His image, even corrupted by this world is something we should treasure.

As a Christian, my faith teaches me instead that every disabled child bears the same marks of his or her Creator in whose image they are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” meaning with an intent and the Creator’s seal of satisfaction. And every disability has a purpose.

In the Bible, Jesus’ disciples ask him who bears the responsibility for the blindness of a man they pass by. Jesus responds, “It is was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” That man’s blindness had a purpose, and it was to reveal the glory of God.

My daughter’s CF has a purpose—that the works of a sovereign God may be displayed someway and somehow. Time will tell. I suspect that conviction will prompt the same emotions in Gann that her conviction did in me. But is there a higher view of disability? Perhaps amidst all the pain and the sorrow, never to be minimized, that comes with enduring a disability, there can also be the hope and comfort that when the God of the universe created my daughter he pronounced his handiwork good and purposeful.

Mary says it better than I do. Difficult situations and conditions have an additional purpose — it gives us reminders to engage in prayer. Prayer is the most powerful tool in our lives and especially in our death-worshipping society, we need more of it. Paul told us to pray without ceasing, to live our entire lives as a prayer to the Lord God, and the best thing we can do for our children, even through their infirmities, do the same. God loves the sick and the weak, the way Jesus lived his live shows that. Let us do the same.

The Last Crusade: Superseding Nationalism

This  morning I read a lecture from a Catholic-American artist, speaking of art and culture in the context of the overall health of mankind. Naturally, he finds the current neo-Babelism of the globalists to be something troubling, but what’s interesting is he takes a step back in the conflict between nationalism and globalism and finds something more important, and something eternal:

“As much as I lament that these knots and spirals would not be found in a church nowadays except as an expression of Irishness, I lament more that a church nowadays is likely to contain no artwork at all. We are living in a time comparable to the iconoclastic crises; contempt for tradition and sacred art is encountered at all levels of the Church.

Moreover, contemporary secular society is decidedly antitraditional. Those who mass-produce and peddle its culture profit by arousing the desire for novelty; things that are made to endure or to live with can only be sold once. Its music and art exist primarily as electronic simulacra. These can be sent across the world within seconds; bound to no particular place, they go to every nation and move them toward sameness. I do not know if such things can properly be called culture; I do not know if they can even properly be called things. A similar movement toward a postnational world is made in political and economic matters. The rules of national sovereignty are reduced to legal fictions, just as the marks of cultural identity are overwritten or erased.

Unsurprisingly, this provokes a reaction. All over the world, people are concerned to protect their self-determination and cultural identity from foreign influences, from invasive ways that are not theirs. That is to say, that are not theirs as Frenchmen or Englishmen or Germans or Americans. In such a time, when nationalism provides the motive to preserve tradition, and postnationalism the motive to destroy it, it seems that anyone who is a traditionalist in matters of religion or culture or art should and must be a nationalist as well.

The curious thing, however, is that in the history of Christianity, nationalism is not an especially traditional idea. A distinction between nations certainly is as ancient as the Tower of Babel, where the language of the whole earth was confounded: and from thence the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all countries. But the idea that nationhood be the foremost way for a man to understand his identity, his place in history and in the world, began in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The choice presented between nationalism and postnationalism is a false dilemma; there is older way, and that is what is actually expressed in works of art such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and Chartres Cathedral. It is the idea of Christendom: that a man should understand his place in history and in the world not foremost as a member of a particular nation, but rather as a member of the universal Church. This is the way that once was maintained by the Church, and that naturally would be yet, were it not for the failure of its institutional authorities to stand fast, and hold to the traditions they have learned. Perhaps artists can take up the task, if churchmen will not, of reviving this magnanimous idea.

This idea of Christendom does not destroy the particular genii of nations, but neither does it provoke them to battle against each other. It rather establishes principles by which they may together praise the same God. Moreover, it establishes principles by which the Christian tradition may withstand foreign influences; not by barring them entry, but by converting them to its same sacred end, by staking upon whatever is true or good or beautiful in them a legitimate claim. “

He is right that our identities must first and foremost be our eternal citizenship, that of  the Kingdom of Heaven, and also that we should remember the context of our lives and purpose in these end times. What’s great about our heavenly citizenships, is that we may carry dual citizenships with our Earthly nations. Christ in his time on this Earth gave his ministry to one people, the people of Israel, though his focus was on the eternal birth of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Likewise he urged his followers not to be at odds with Rome, within the bounds Paul created most of his ministry.

I don’t think this is implying nationalism is wrong by any means, and I think it’s important tool to fight the neo-Babelists, but we do have to remember our priorities lay beyond it.

 

Happy Crusade Day

On this day, November 27th 1095, Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade, ordering European Christians to retake the Holy Land from the barbaric Islamic forces that had captured it. He coined probably the most important phrase in history outside of the teachings of Christ Himself, “Deus Vult!”

Celebrate this day by committing to join the Last Crusade, something science fiction author and Christian philosopher John C. Wright has put together in order to encourage us to fight for what’s right and true, in an effort to preserve western civilization and further the Kingdom of Heaven’s reach into this world. John’s stated three main points of attack are some of the most crucial things we must do as Christendom in these last days:

First, to restore the Constitution of United States, as this nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, is the sole nation in history whose founding was entirely in keeping with the Christian principle that all men are created in the image and likeness of God. This nation is born of a social covenant of men related, not by blood nor race but only by likemindedness, a brotherhood of the spirit.

Second, to restore Chivalry to men, as without the warlike yet courteous spirit unique to the Christian soldier of ages past, no man can be a true man, no wife can love and serve a true husband, no child be reared by a true father.

Third, to restore Christ to the hearts of men, and throw the godless, the impious, the heathen and the atheist from the halls of power. A Christian commonwealth can tolerate a non-Christian minority if the minority can and will abide by the civilized standard of Christian decency, monogamy, honor and honesty in business dealings, and so on.

God’s Kingdom is not something to be won by being passive. We must actively work together to restore the Church. There is no other way.

Do Not Be Unequally Yoked

A reader  left a  rather chilling comment on my youtube channel worth reading:

I had a girlfriend, and relationship lasted about three years. I adored her. Friendship, affection, passion, and common ground in movies and books, with lots of fun sharing…or at least I thought. One day a minority woman was pushing her around, and I saw it as a need for her to stand her ground, as she was supposed to meet with me that day, and changed her schedule after being manipulated by this woman.I should have seen this coming, but did not want to see it. I visited her church and her daughter’s church, and they were both run by women, and the guys that attended were “passive” to say the least. My girlfriend not only dropped me, but cut off all communication literally over night. It took me a couple of months to realize I had accidentally stepped on her virtue-signaling. And, she thought of herself as “traditional.” We had never had a single argument before this, and she was a million miles from bored with me, so some kind of decision was made within her inside female support group that I was not the right kind of person. Ha! Can you say “Converged Churches?” After about three months I realized I was still me and still happy. Plus, I learned how deep this stuff goes.

Converged churches can be the worst of influences. The Bible does warn about relationships, but yes it can be hard to see. But the false doctrines of SJW-isms aren’t something to yoke yourself with either–which goes for what church to attend and engage in as well. It takes really paying attention to a church and a community to see if those there serve Babel, or if they truly serve God. As he said, this goes deep, and it takes staying vigilant constantly, even when you’re in love, which is the hardest of all things to do.

 

The Last Crusade: Deliver Us From Evil

Yesterday when I was doing my weekly scripture reading, I found that I all too often don’t exhibit the traits describing love, which are the traits of God. It made me reflect on the fact that I also all too often have evil thoughts, and even if I haven’t act on those, a part of me wanted to at points. It is good and right to want to purge such thoughts from ever occurring in the first place, to not be led into temptation.

During the journey of our lives it’s impossible to never be tempted, to never have evil thoughts. Especially if we’re acting of our own accords. As humans, with our base selfish nature it’s going to be a problem, and one we can and must overcome.

A friend last evening struck me by putting it a beautiful way: “we are all lost in darkness, unable to save ourselves, until we realize we are in need of a Savior, and have grace given to us.”

These are very powerful words. Darkness fills this world, and it seeps into us by nature. The Devil has set up the world so it does just this. But we can’t fight this on our own, we are powerless against it excepting for the grace of our Savior.

He covers us like a blanket, or more aptly like plate armor and a shield. When evil comes at us, whether from our thoughts or from outside temptations, He can repel those away. It’s the only way to fight, but fortunately it is perfectly effective.

With this powerful knowledge there are three ways we can allow His grace to fill us, to help us hold fast to what is right and true, and by proxy keep evil away from us:

  1. Study the Word. The word of God is powerful, and the more you study in it, the more you’ll be thinking about it. The more you’re thinking about what God desires, the less you’ll give into your own desires which may conflict with His will.
  2. Surround yourself with people of faith who will hold you accountable. This is one of the harder things to do, as it can be uncomfortable. But it’s also imperative. We all too often can’t recognize failings within ourselves and rely on brothers and sisters to help us right our paths. They’ll do so out of encouragement, not out of malice, so recognize the difference.
  3. Praying for God to intervene in all aspects of our lives is always fruitful. Pray to thank Him. Pray just to say hello to Him. Pray that He might keep Himself in our thoughts and deeds constantly. It changes the world.

Just some basic thoughts for today which I hope will be fruitful for both me and you on this Thanksgiving weekend. I hope it helps. Deus vult!

Music Blog: Brand New – Jesus Christ

One song has really stuck with me as one of the most profound lyrical songs of the last couple decades, and that’s the one referenced at the top of the blog.

 

Really the song is one of the few songs that deals with Christianity and Jesus Christ from a perspective that’s different than you hear in most praise songs.

Jesus Christ, that’s a pretty face
The kind you’d find on someone that could save
If they don’t put me away
It’ll be a miracle

Do you believe you’re missing out?
That everything good is happening somewhere else
With nobody in your bed
The night is hard to get through

And I will die all alone
And when I arrive I won’t know anyone

The first verse deals with an immediate human unworthiness of Christ’s grace. He uses the term Jesus Christ almost like a double entendre, in the sorta swearing way that it’s used quite regularly these days, but also very nakedly like he’s talking to Jesus personally. There’s a loneliness in that, as through our sin we’re separated from God and need companionship more than anything else. But note that in his reverie, he understand that he’s overwhelmed by sin, in this case lust, and can’t get away from it no matter how he tries. Such an honest admission is so rare, even in poets and artists. Because of that, he feels ostracized in both who he is and his faith. I know I’ve felt this way, and recognized my failings. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to vocalize them in something public like this, however. It’s extremely bold for him to have done so.

Jesus Christ, I’m alone again
So what did you do those three days you were dead?
Because this problem is gonna last
More than the weekend

Jesus Christ I’m not scared to die
But I’m a little bit scared of what comes after
Do I get the gold chariot
Or do I float through the ceiling

Or do I divide and pull apart
Cause my bright is too slight to hold back all my dark
This ship went down in sight of land
And at the gates does Thomas ask to see my hands?

This second verse really goes deeper into that human failure and loneliness. But then he reflects: how lonely must it have been for God to be in the grave, without any solace, truly alone and facing pain. It had to be worse than anything we ever could experience, as at least when we die — we can be with God. Jesus did that for us. He suffered some of the worst pains imaginable so we wouldn’t be alone. And yet at the same time — we have doubts about the end of our own lives. Despite all of the reassurances, we’re often uncertain. The second stanza is something again many of us reflect upon.

That lack of certainty leads to doubt, and he plays this up to say that his doubts are even worse than the Apostle Thomas was when he came face to face with Christ and didn’t believe he’d risen from the grave. The message is clear: we are so unworthy of God’s sacrifice that it’s ridiculous. The darkness within us is so terrible, he finds it hard to believe that Christ would even want him around, that his works are not good enough to sustain eternal life. I think we all can feel that way sometimes, but we shouldn’t let it bring us down. That is the amazingness of God’s love in a nutshell though — that despite our faults, He will never betray us, never leave us. God’s love for us is infinite. And while Jesse may have felt alone while writing this, he doesn’t have to be, for it is written: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” – Jeremiah 31:3

I know you’re coming in the night like a thief
But I’ve had some time, O Lord, to hone my lying technique
I know you think that I’m someone you can trust
But I’m scared I’ll get scared and I swear I’ll try to nail you back up

The end build here is some of the most beautiful work ever recorded. It still gives me shivers and can bring tears to the eye to this day. This end is about how we constantly betray Christ over and over again in our daily lives. We give into sin, we all do, we can’t help it. And it’s a shame. This is why we have to repent over and over because we keep failing at the very simple commandments Christ gave to us to love one another and love the Lord God. And more than that –we’ve all honed our lying techniques where we become so good at lying to ourselves that what we’re doing really “isn’t that bad”. It’s a big trap where we compartmentalize our sins in our lives, and justify them to ourselves, when we really need to get back to living as Christ taught us. It’s something to be keenly aware of in order to help us avoid the cycle of sin.

So do you think that we could work out a sign
So I’ll know it’s you and that it’s over so I won’t even try
I know you’re coming for the people like me
But we all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories
We all got wood and nails 
And we turn out hate in factories
We all got wood and nails
And we sleep inside of this machine

And just like the pharisees, Jesse is aware that he — and all of us — keep asking God for signs to prove who he is, as if He owes us, even though we have failed His commandments. It’s sickening to think about how we do that after he came here, was tortured and brutally murdered by our ancestors, and still managed to forgive us of our sins that we demand from God. Even though we know he’s coming for us. We know it in  every core of our being. So why do we keep making these demands? Why do we keep failing him? It’s like he says — we all good wood and nails. If we were in that position, we might be shouting jeers at Christ ourselves and betraying him. There’s no way we are more enlightened or better people who were witnessing Christ firsthand. If He came today, we might very well be part of that same crowd killing our Lord God over again.

It’s a painful, depressing and an uncomfortable song, I know, but what it does is serve as a big reminder to us: we live in sin. We must do all we can to live as Christ told us, and that involves actively thinking about His will at every moment of every day, not just going to church on Sunday, not just during times we’ve set, but in all things we do. It’s so hard, it may even be impossible, but if we keep asking God for help in this, He’ll deliver as always. That’s the only way we can get outside of this machine we’re sleeping in.

Despite the rather tragic song There is so much good news though. The fact that Christ loves us so much that he did sacrifice himself is inspiring. Though we have our failures and that is a depressing thing — it doesn’t matter, and we can take solace in that. It’s hard in these modern times to imagine the kind of unconditional love Christ brings to us, as everything is so conditional in our lives to the point where it feels like nothing lasts, but it is there. He came for us, he sacrificed, and he rose again. It’s already over, and we don’t even have to try. God will give us his grace if we simply ask for it. It’s such a beautiful thing. As Paul said:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:8-10

What a beautiful thing. It’s cause for rejoicing. And while I think it’s fine to feel the empathy of this song that we should feel because of how much Christ suffered for us and because of our inherent unworthiness, we should do our best to focus on the joy God has given us as well. It still remains a beautiful song, and one that stirs deep reflection in me. I hope it does in you as well!

If you ever want to talk about Christ, learn more about Him, I am not sure I’m the best teacher, I have failings just like anyone else — but I’ll do my best and I’m happy to talk to you whenever. There’s nothing more important for you or for me, so I’ll make the time. Don’t be afraid to contact me!

The Last Crusade: Who Is Your Father?

There’s so much to share about the weekend at the Realm Makers writer’s conference, but the most important, brothers and sisters, may be a moment of clarity and revelation that was given early on in the conference to me, and one that the Lord compels me to pass along to you this morning.

A lot of what I’ve discovered this last year or so that pushed me along in my journey of seeking Christ, whether I wanted to or not, was tied into a sermon I listened to. Two things have gone on the last hundred years or so in the church that hasn’t happened before in history: 1. The church went out into the world and 2. The world came into the church.

The first started, as most things do, with good intentions. The church didn’t just keep to its elements along Mediterranean Europe, which most of Christendom has taken place through its history. With the expansion into the Americas, and then to Africa and Asia, the church pushed an outward focus. Which is a good thing, as the message has always been to go out and make disciples of all nations. The struggles came when there was a church established in nearly every nation on Earth, that we were spread to the corners of the globe. What happened was we wanted to reach outward still, and so we reached for the world in a different way – in that we changed ourselves to be like them, in order to fit in with the world.  We lost our confidence because we were so used to growth, that the only way to maintain that growth seemed to be to “update” Christianity, to make it palatable, so that we wouldn’t be criticized by academics or entertainers as being too strange.

This resulted in part two. The world flooded into the church. What we saw as a result is more and more of a talk about the church – less and less of a talk about Christ. We became hyper focused on “how do we look cool to bring more in”, which is not biblical in the least. Christ said it in John 15: 18 – “if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” I warn Christians all the time that if the world applauds what you’re doing, be very careful and reflect on that, what you’re doing is probably is wrong.

But why did we lose this confidence? What changed in our hearts that made us want to conform rather than want to be a separate beacon of light that shines as brightly as possible? That beacon that brought civilization to this Earth like had never been seen before, that made kings bow before the Lord?

We’ve been duped in a way, in our conforming to the world, that we’re not supposed to seek or see the supernatural influences of our world. We’ve been taught by the secular institutions that science, what we can observe and catalog, is the only truth. That there’s nothing else out there. So while we held onto the most basic messages of “love your neighbor as yourself” nodding to each other saying “that sounds sensible, no one can disagree with that,” we turned our backs on the Spirit.

There was a parable taught to me and others on Thursday, one which I’ll do my best to relay to you now. There’s no reason to lose that confidence. We shouldn’t fear. There is no fear in love, there is no fear in the Word. There is no fear in God. We can be bold, we can proclaim the Spirit, and God will do the rest.

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to attribute it, so I won’t, and this isn’t verbatim, but my four-day-later-recollection, so I’ve had to make my own changes to the story, but the message rings true:

The story goes about a boy in the jungle who’s following one of his village leaders.  They go out into the jungle and come across a hyena, and the boy panics. The older, wiser man stills him, and they walk along carefully until they pass the beast.  

The boy asks, “were you not afraid?”

The man said, “no, I know who my Father is.”

The boy, confused, asks again, “but what if the hyena hurts you?’

The man stops, reflects on the situation, and turns the the boy. “Suppose there’s a lion sleeping in the forest, do you think the hyena can prey upon such a great beast and hurt it?”

The boy says “yes, the hyena has a ferocious bite.”

The man frowns. He didn’t get the message across, but his Father is the Father of creation. He could do anything, and he needed a way to bring that point to the boy.  “Think of this, what if the Lion were grown to be twice as large?”

The boy shrugged. “It can still hurt the lion. If it came upon it when it wasn’t paying attention, it can still rip into its hide and bring it down.”

The man motioned to the forest. “What if the Lion grew to be as big as this tree, as this forest?” 

The boy thought about it a moment. “The Hyena can still nip at its Achilles heel and if it struck the right place, it could bring the lion down.”

Undeterred, the man made a great sweeping motion to the sky. “So what if the Lion grew so large as to be the size of this world? The size of the galaxy and the stars above, and the hyena was but a speck so small that the Lion couldn’t even see it. Would the hyena be able to bother it then?”

The boy looked up to the cosmos, seeing the blue sky beyond. “No, I suppose not.”

“Then why would I be afraid? My Father is infinite. He is bigger than this world, bigger than the galaxy, he stretches to eternity, and he will protect me.”

It’s such a simple message. God is Infinite. God is so much bigger than anything else, beyond space and time, beyond anything we can possibly imagine. The world, evil, are such small specks to him that they can never bother Him, they can never influence Him, they can never chip away at Him. He is so vast and so great that we have nothing to worry about.

It means we can live bold as Christians. It means that we can proclaim Christ as loudly as we can, and we should. We don’t need to conform to the world in order to get fake butts in seats for pews. We have a higher purpose, and are worshipping a glory that goes so much more beyond the here and now, that it’s awe-inspiring just to think about.

When I heard this message, I felt the Spirit move. The Spirit is everywhere, of course, but in moments when we draw His attention, I’ve noticed in my life that there’s a change in the room. It’s almost like an air pressure change, but something vast, not-physical. A heavy burst, full of light and joy rushes over the room like a tidal wave. It’s hard to put into words, but I know when I feel it. I know when we’re in His presence and His focus is on us.

We need more of those moments. We need to make our entire lives their moments to be able to proclaim His kingdom. And that means we cannot live in fear of the hyena, or what someone thinks, or the insults that will get flung at us. It’s all something to laugh off, because our Father is infinite.

I hope that brings inspiration to your day like it has to mine. It is written much more succinctly:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

The Last Crusade: Letting God Work Through You

I have a confession to make, readers. A year ago at this time and before that, I was not walking the faith in the way I should. Sure, I believed that Jesus Christ rose from the dead to forgive our sins, but I compartmentalized my faith into a “something we do on Sunday” and did not consider God every day. I didn’t pray every day. I didn’t read scripture every day. I was like the person who is trying to lose weight but eats junk food every meal but one protein shake and won’t do anything else. But Christ said “You must serve the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matt 22:37). He didn’t say to make it a once a week thing.

It sounds pretty daunting to do. But it’s actually very easy. The Bible has a running motif: “Do not be afraid.” It’s said over and over in awesome, divine instances, but it’s also commanded to the church in our day to day lives not to be anxious or afraid. And often times, we do let the fear that society will reject us dictate our walk with the Lord. It results in casting our faith in the shadow of our lives rather than making it something central and bright.

The way to change that is a very simple thing indeed: 1. Listen. 2. Let Him work.

As much as that is something so small, we all, myself included, think of ways to evade both of these things. “But I’m so busy today…” is an easy one. “But what will people think of me…” is another. I struggled with the latter, a compulsion to have everyone like me that pushed me into shyness about what proclaiming what is right. Most knew that I called myself a Christian, but most also couldn’t see me doing anything different than they were doing. It was very easy to fall into that lull, and it still is. It, like almost everything else we’re supposed to do, requires vigilance and daily work/prayer.

The incredible part, is that God plants the seeds and is here to help us grow. Once you see the beautiful interconnectedness of God’s plan, the way that this universe fits together like a puzzle, the vast intricacies of everything he designed, it’s impossible to stop. And that simple observing is enough to change you and me.

I reflected on the last year in my life, and I saw a big change. One that God put in the works for a long, long time, but I failed to see.

God has long called me to witness to the entertainment community, especially in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields. This industry is full of pure worldly vapidity, and full of not only a disinterest in the divine, but a flat-out disdain for God and Jesus Christ that is painful to see. It’s a very scary place, and the prospect of being shunned/rejected is very real. If you just scroll back through some of my comments, you’ll see that there’s plenty of folk who want to make sure that rejection stings as much as possible. It’s pretty awful and painful at times to get that treatment, especially from people who I revered and respected as heroes. I won’t sugarcoat it and say that’s not there.

So naturally the first thing I did was ignore it. God was in the back of my head for years telling me to do something. I wasn’t sure what it was. I thought perhaps I was supposed to write an allegorical Christian fiction, or something more straightforward… and even that I put off. For years I said next to nothing, letting myself be a quiet Christian who fits in with the world.

And what happened? The world rejected me anyway. I wasn’t making much headway. Even though I had a book contract and was working with some big-name industry insiders on a pretty well-known property, people didn’t come to read. God did not bless that course of action in the least, because it was a worldly goal with a worldly end. I was ignoring my calling through all of that. Because I was afraid. Because I wanted acceptance.

Around that time (last summer), God was planting seeds within me and I didn’t even know it. I’m not sure what caused me to start reading Vox Day or reach out to him, but as I look back, I see that God moved in that. I wrote Vox a message, concerned about something that was going on in the church, as I observed that the messaging, the work being done, was moving toward a focus on pleasing the world and being accepted here, rather than following Christ no matter what it took. It’s ironic that I saw this in the church and not in myself, but it’s just another way that God connects stories and builds his vision. Vox wrote back with sound advice, blogged about the church and being vigilant in faith, and though I filed that away to some extent, it did one important thing: got me thinking about God’s will more often.

It spiraled from there, and it wasn’t any of my doing. When times got tough within the worldly side of science fiction, Vox was there again, and gave me a voice, a very loud one through his blog which I’m thankful for to this day. Having that voice, taking the steps to not be afraid paved the way for me to be able to speak about God and Christ in an open manner. To shout His praises from the rooftops and have no fear.  The connection is a small one, a kernel of concern about the church, leading me to a person (if you look at the Bible, almost every story is God leading those who follow him to people, and connecting his people and the Body of Christ so we can do great things together), that on the surface didn’t seem like anything other than an industry contact. It was a whole lot more.

Because of that, I met up with Superversive Press. Again, little things, but this group is one that talks about Christ regularly, listens and prays for each other, it’s an edifying group online that cares and will hold each other accountable when we’re stumbling. It’s about the biggest blessing ever. Through them, I met my friend L. Jagi Lamplighter-Wright, who probably will be embarrassed to hear this, but she, along with some of the blogs by her husband, has been the primary driving factor in encouraging me in my faith and speaking out about it.

Now the cool little way God worked again? Jagi helped me edit my piece for Vox when I originally spoke out. In fact, that’s how I met her. She was compelled to do the little help with this, even not knowing me, probably without even knowing why or what it would lead to. He connected us all in very small ways, and that led me to finding and reading The Last Crusade blogs, which led me to a renewed spiritual enthusiasm.

All of this stuff was not my doing! It was other people working in the faith who just sprinkled their impact on me. If you ask both Jagi and Vox, they’ll tell you that it wasn’t much of their time or thoughts for this matter, but they were happy to lift a brother up. God compels them to work in the way they work as well. All caused at the onset by God telling me to be concerned about the church, which led Him to showing me that concern needed to start inside me to make a change.

Little things. All connected. It just takes opening our eyes to see it. And we won’t even see it at all unless we 1. Listen. 2. Let Him work. Pray. That little inkling telling you to walk the path is God letting you know what’s right for His plan. Don’t be afraid. You’re not alone. He’s always with you.

And that’s the good news, brothers and sisters. When you do reach out and find out what God wants you to do, and start doing it, He WILL bless you in ways that you couldn’t have imagined. The moment I started down this path, the moment I started putting Him first above all else, my career in this field changed. Sure, I had the shunning and I get the name calling by some, but that doesn’t matter in the least. God’s blessed me with tremendous support from far more of His people who care, who want to see me grow in the faith, who want to grow in the faith themselves. We build each other up and it only compounds from there. Look at what He did with just 12 followers, after all. He’s instilled far more than 12 into my life since this time.

I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t have any regrets in dedicating more of my time, more of my energy, more of my prayers and more of my life to Him. It fills me with great joy every day and keeps me going when times are tough. It’s amazing grace, for real.

He’ll do the same for you. All of your troubles, all of your pain, lift it up to Him. God wants to help you. There’s nothing more that I’d love than to share this journey with you.

If you’re reading this for the first time and haven’t encountered Christ. It’s amazing what he did, far more so than my little story of receiving his blessings. God came down to earth, lived the only perfect life in existence, and sacrificed himself at our hands, using his own blood and pain to wash away all of our sins and evils. The amazing part of it all is that he rose from the dead three days later, and came back to proclaim the good news to all of us. Here’s here for us, and He’s listening.

If you want to know more, if you want prayer, if you want friendship, I’m not just here to blog. I want to help you like the others helped me. You can leave a comment, I can get your email off of that. Or find me on social media and I’m happy to talk more about this. We can change the world together and it starts with a prayer.

The Last Crusade: Judging Evil and Wickedness

I’ve talked about common phrases that non-Christians like to take out of the Bible and smugly use to criticize Christians into silence. The topic at the time “turn the other cheek”, attempting to dupe Christians, but there’s another that does pretty much the same thing, which has been used to con a couple of modern generations of American Christians into not speaking out about morality in general: “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

They quote the King James every time because that’s what’s in pop culture for this phrase, and it’s a big sign that it’s something everyone heard as a kid, and no one actually drilled into and practices what was actually taught by Jesus. As usual, you can’t pull 6 words from scripture without context.

The Bible actually gives us a path to judgment, specifically with how we should judge evil:

Proverbs 97:10: “Hate evil, you who love the LORD, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”

Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

 Hebrews 1:9 (speaking of Christ Jesus, of who we are supposed to emulate): “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

It’s all over. Dozens of references to hating evil and wickedness. But if we aren’t supposed to judge, how are we to know what is evil or wicked, let alone how we’re supposed to react?

It’s because the verse is, like most scripture, taken out of context.  Here’s the full passage Of Mathew 7: 1-6 for analysis:

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Quite a lot of judgment there, as a matter of fact. In this, we are judging some as “dogs and pigs” which in terms of ancient Jewish society, are about the most unclean things someone can use as a metaphor. The specifics are what matters.

What Christ teaches, and actually how most Paul’s letters teach us to behave, is in regards to our Christian brothers and sisters. The speck of sawdust in your BROTHER’s eye is what’s key to his passage. The Church and Christ are very much concerned about how we act toward each other, almost beyond anything else. It means we shouldn’t take disagreements between each other and try to destroy our fellow Christian with them. That gossip shouldn’t be something among Christian brothers and sisters. If one of us is struggling with sin, it’s because we are fallible and working toward perfection – we shouldn’t look down upon others in that journey, because we are all on that same journey.

Those who hate Christ are not on that journey, and are professing wickedness, especially in deceiving Christians to be quiet about morality. We must speak out about sin and must define sin in order to show light to the world. Otherwise there is no difference between us and the pigs and dogs. But it’s also not our job to overly explain ourselves to those who are trying to be mockers of Christ in this, that’s what verse 6 is about. We do what we do because it’s God’s commandment. We have to speak out, we have to give Him praise. We’ll get mocked for it every time, There are actual souls at stake who we can work on, who are actually interested in learning about Christ. That’s where we need to dedicate our efforts. In any argument now I ask “are you earnestly interested in learning about Christ?” if they cannot answer yes, I don’t spend the time.

The Bible is very clear on behavior that we should judge as evil and wicked as well

Galatians 5: 19-21 is a simple guide: “Now the works of the flesh are plainly seen, and they are sexual immorality, uncleanness, brazen conduct, idolatry, spiritism, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions, sects, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and things like these. I am forewarning you about these things, the same way I already warned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom.”

Obviously I’m not posting this to say I am any better than you, brothers and sisters. I fall short fairly regularly, embarrassingly so. But these are things to judge, and especially to speak out about their evils, even though it is unpopular in society to do so.

As with most of Christianity, intent is everything. If you do what you do in seeking Christ, you will not do wrong, because He is with you. If you’re here to help a brother when they are stumbling, that is quite different than judging a brother.  But none of this applies to the wicked world. Out there, there are lost sheep, but there are also goats and wolves among them. Be wary, stay vigilant, and never be conned into silence.

Psalm 40

Many of you probably don’t know it, but it’s been a rather hard week for me. I don’t say much about things like that, because I am a firm believer that mindset, energy, pushing toward goals are the way to overcome things. There’s also trusting in God.

Instead of reading the news every morning, I’ve been reading a Psalm of David, the first great King of Isreal way back in the day. He collected and wrote several praises and songs meant to inspire us, and see us through tough times. God is always there, and will help us in our time of need. That is exciting in and of itself!

I’m low on time today, so here’s David’s words from Psalm 40 which I read this morning:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
    but my ears you have opened[c]
    burnt offerings and sin offerings[d] you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
    it is written about me in the scroll.[e]
I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
    be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
    be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    you are my God, do not delay.