Author: Asahel Adams

Egypt

Greetings!

We wanted to write and update you on how things progressed during our recent intensive ministry season in Egypt.

Minya is no small city, with over 6 million residents, and, as mentioned in my previous post, boasts some historical significance. Yet, in the upper region of Egypt, it is not a tourist destination by any means. Our ministry schedule didn’t permit any tourism in any case; we alternated between the conference hall, hotel rooms, the church and two ministers’ homes the entire time. 

Our generous hosts graciously lodged us in a refurbished Nile riverboat, now serving as a hotel with about 15 rooms. While it might not meet Western standards, it was likely the most “luxurious” accommodation in the entire city. In its prime, the vessel was probably not very impressive, but it remains adequate after 50 years of retirement. However, the plumbing was leaky, and the shower stalls were so tiny that one was tempted to soap the walls and spin around to wash. The narrow space made it all the more challenging when the hot water system oscillated between arctic blasts and scorching heat. Despite these challenges, the “C-Boat Inn” was crucial in our ministry in Minya, having an upstairs conference hall large enough to hold all our teaching sessions from Friday through Saturday. One unique feature of our accommodation was the Nile River, which flowed just one foot outside our bedroom windows. The Nile was a magnificent sight, sometimes rippling with a choppy current and at other times as still as glass. Early in the morning, steam rose from the river, and sailboats and party barges often cruised its current, creating a serene view that we will all remember. Unfortunately, bottles, diapers and flotillas of trash of every kind regularly floated by as well. 

Our primary teaching sessions occurred on Friday and Saturday, starting first thing in the morning and stretching into the afternoon, with additional evening events. The people we met here are dear—notably vibrant and expressive. The social discussions and greetings before and after meetings hummed with the chatter of many voices, affectionate hugs, kisses and hearty greetings. It was like being amidst a mixed crowd of boisterous Italians or Jewish groups; the whole place vibrated with intensity.

For many of them, “Christianity” is more of an ethnic tradition than a decision to give their life to Jesus. They’re born into it. The government does not disapprove of those who are born into Christianity and continue in the faith. However, those who choose to convert from Islam to Christianity as adults are often viewed with disdain. The problem is that many who call themselves Christians have never actually had a conversion experience; they’ve simply been brought up in the culture and milieu of the centuries-old Egyptian Christian community. Coincidentally, the Christian sector—especially the youth—strikes one as more garish, liberal and worldly than their Muslim counterparts.

We taught repentance as the prerequisite for any realistic hope for unity within the church. We taught two ways of knowing God—from the head and human knowledge or the heart, relationally.

After a full day of teachings, on Friday night, the youth (18-30) convened for a special meeting. Brother Teb gave his testimony, describing how many times he went to the altar and sought help from God but never found the abiding change that would alter the course of his life. He described the desperation, the near hopelessness at Christianity’s inability to give him the needed power to find real transformation. He then described coming to Texas for the first time, invited by a former drug buddy, and how God miraculously filled him with the Spirit and then intervened in the legal system, freeing him from the jail time and criminal record hanging over his head.

All of the young people were intrigued. Some were stirred in their hearts, and others copped the same quasi-mocking posture they’re likely accustomed to showing their teachers in school. Yet many seeds were sown, and even after some were sharply rebuked for their shallowness and mockery, they softened their hearts, feeling and expressing even more interest and longing for something real, something more. At the close of the meeting, they inundated us—as eager and effervescent as a room full of guileless toddlers. They were childlike in their sweetness and desire to connect with us. We felt our hearts wrenched by these dear young people. They’re all baptized as babies, giving them no real opportunity to CHOOSE Jesus as adults. They’ve never been evangelized, converted or likely even encountered God in any meaningful way.

As Brother Kash said, “Put these youth with some of ours for just a short period, and they’d all be receiving the Holy Spirit one after another.”

To our pleasant surprise, many of the youth, who had not attended previous meetings, joined their parents and elders the following Saturday morning for the teaching sessions. A visual anointing from God was on the teaching Saturday as one truth rocket after another landed on the reinforced bunkers of intellectual Presbyterianism, proving that God is Spirit and desires a spiritual relationship with us through expressive, exponential encounters, true, demonstrative prayer and praise. There’s just no way to hear the word of God on how to sing, worship, pray—and retain your attachment to an utterly lifeless form of godliness that denies the power thereof.

There was palpable conviction throughout the teaching. The vast majority were coming alive, their faces and body language revealing their excitement and rekindled hope for an exponential relationship with Jesus. As one would expect, there were a handful of holdouts, disgusted at the thought of true humility or vulnerable worship, clinging to their traditions behind the “that’s your way and opinion” rubric. Notwithstanding that, no sooner had the teaching wrapped up than the lead elder, Izaat, leaped to his feet and began yielding to the Spirit and demonstrably leading worship with a song that refrained, “We bow down to our great God and King.”

Around the room, including the pastor’s wife, people began cautiously raising their hands. Even more, you could see on their faces—they were feeling the presence of God.

After an intense barrage of questions and answers, the pastor rose to dismiss the meeting. Through broken translation, we could sense that, out of some nervousness and fear of alienating the stubborn, he was attempting to soften the point of conviction, assuring folks that—in addition to the praise like mighty peals of thunder and the roar of a waterfall, Revelations also depicted 30 minutes of silence in heaven. Though this might’ve been intended to reassure the fearful hearts of the “frozen chosen,” it did little to dull the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Hearts were pierced, and invisible shockwaves of hope were vibrating through the whole congregation.

Over tea, Izaat, a Presbyterian elder with multiple master’s degrees in theology, later explained his worship leading after the teaching. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I felt an anointing of the Holy Spirit come all over me. I wasn’t forcing it or even trying for it; it just came on me, and I yielded to it!“

We retired briefly to our rooms, knowing that God had transcended the circumstances, surmounted the “impossibilities,” and brought life and power to light through the gospel! We felt significantly delivered of our burden.

That evening, we were invited to supper at Izaat’s house. Before leaving our lodging, he had informed us that “the vast majority of the congregation is 100% with y’all.” He also alluded to the fact that he was more committed than others in leadership. He explained the great tension the pastor was under, pressured by an evangelical board that could remove him, challenged by unhappy members who wanted to stick with Presbyterian traditions, and inspired by the word of God he could not deny.

As about 10 of us men sat down in the living room, we confronted the issue directly. The pastor explained his predicament, expressing his commitment to us to walk in this way, develop the relationship, and lead his people in the truth he is now receiving. Yet, he also expressed his fears of alienating people, of moving too fast, or causing an unnecessary or premature rift. In response, we assured him that we sympathize with the anguish of his situation. We drew a sharp contrast between the role of a politician and that of a shepherd. The former is inherently false as the master of compromise. The latter lays down his life for the sheep, cultivating the right ear and attitude toward the word of God. We explained that we had done our part; now, it was up to him and the congregation to determine how they would respond to the word that they knew was from God. We could not and would not apologize; we had merely opened the scriptures under the grace of the Spirit’s anointing, and everyone experienced that undeniable work of grace.

After a beautiful evening hosted by Magda, Izaat’s wife, we walked back to our lodgings, accompanied by the elder and pastor. Pastor Methad hung back with me as we walked, and together, we opened our hearts and discussed the course in the future. “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” he asked. By the time we reached our hotel, there was a profound sense of unity and resolve. He could not have been more adamant in his commitment to foster the right attitude toward the word of God and the changes God was proposing to his congregation. “We want to walk with you and get to know you better. We want to continue learning. We ask you to come and come again!”

I should mention that tensions are currently high in Egypt, especially toward Americans, largely due to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many Egyptians have boycotted American-based restaurants like McDonald’s or KFC as a protest against what they perceive as America’s backing for an unjust war. The national government of Egypt assigned 15 full-time agents as a protection detail to shadow us everywhere we went. We could not step out of the hotel without men toting machine guns accompanying us. They took turns 24 hours a day, five on shift at a time, accompanying us to our taxis, following us to our destinations, waiting outside the church doors—everywhere we went, Egyptian national security was also there. We did our best to make friends; they were cordial enough, even exhibiting almost a childlike demeanor at times.

Sunday morning, we met in the Presbyterian Church, where our brothers were able to lead worship, and Danny gave an anointed telling of his testimony, ministering from the question, “what if “—relating this to all the beautiful opportunities, transformations and miracles that he might have missed, had he not trusted God and found the grace to submit to His promptings.

After church, we had a smaller meeting with adults who peppered us with questions about raising children, what it means to be a community, where and how to draw the lines regarding technology, what it means to become vulnerable, and so forth. It felt like one of the more meaningful moments of our stay, as God helped form a fuller picture of His vision in the minds of these people.

Sunday evening, Brother Dan taught on unity in the church—avoiding truth without love and love without truth, but instead engaging in the progressive pilgrimage of an unfolding walk of faith, exhibited in the life and response of the great Apollos, who was able to be shown the “more excellent way,” and thus prove the validity of all previous steps of faith. It felt like this final message left them with a vivid framework in which to consider all that they had learned and received over this packed season.

Our goodbyes were rich with gratitude, their pleas for us to return, testimonies of how God had changed them, and a kind of warmth and connection that would indicate a longer relationship than we’ve been able to form in such a relatively short period.

Despite our weariness, we broke bread and engaged in fellowship with church members until after midnight. Izaat’s face and voice are imprinted on my heart forever. We have formed a deep connection with this man, as has marked our relationships with men of God like Jared, Rowan, and so many others. This is a brother—a bona fide servant and child of God. He loves his people, is an honored patriarch of his family, and he sees the miracle of what God has given us and is determined to bring it to Egypt. Please pray for him and the pastor. God has sown much seed, watered by His Spirit. And a great harvest can already be seen not far in the future.

Brother Howard sent me the following scripture, my heart’s prayer for our dear brothers and sisters:

“In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.” (Isa. 19:19-22)

Pray for Izaat and Methad—their spouses, families and all the brothers and sisters in Egypt. Pray that God will move on many hearts to seek His Spirit until He rains righteousness upon them. Pray for protection from the religious principalities arrayed against God and His work.

This feels like a solid, fruitful labor in Egypt. We will see fruit.

After over 30 hours of travel, we reached South Africa yesterday afternoon. It’s refreshing—not only to be in this lush, picturesque land after the moonscape deserts of Egypt, but especially to see the body of Christ budding, blooming and flourishing like a tree planted by the water! I cannot restrain my emotions when I think of where we started nine years ago and what God has done to bring us to this point today. This congregation is getting ready to be a bright beacon and witness to all of Africa. The body of Christ is glorious!

We love and miss you all, and we thank you for standing in your places of service all over the world. We are one body with one heart, one purpose, one kingdom and one great King. We all feel so grateful to be extensions of your faithfulness and witness wherever we go. We would be nothing as individuals; as part of you, we are the fragrance of life to those who are being saved!

With much love,

Brother Asi

Egypt

We flew yesterday from Entebbe to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and then on to Cairo, making it to our hotel just after 2 AM.

We were blessed to meet Brother Dan over breakfast this morning and review our preliminary schedule of events over the next four days here.

Breakfast was delicious and even more welcomed was the luxury of air conditioning and reliable showers at the airport hotel. The desert air is dry and crisp, a pleasant distinction from our Uganda experience.

Yet, we are keenly aware, once again, of the religious and political tensions surging like a powerful current just beneath the surface here.

No sooner had we hired our driver to take us in a van the 4-hour drive from Cairo to Minya, loaded our luggage, and clamored into our seats than we confronted the first tension. Armed, plainclothes Egyptian security began questioning and challenging our driver concerning where he was taking these foreigners. Kash got our Egyptian contact, Brother Ezaat, on the line, who began explaining our situation over the phone to the driver and authorities. It was unclear whether they wanted to track us, worried for our safety on the open road, or were simply flexing their muscles. Regardless, we prayed, and before too long, we were on the road.

As Brother Dan pointed out, Egypt redefines the meaning of ‘desert.’ As far as the eye can see, in every direction are endless stretches of sand without even a hint of vegetation. We are accustomed to calling things ‘deserts’ with much more life than can be found in this sunbaked region of the world. A full 95% of Egypt’s land is lifeless desert. For contrast, ‘desert’ makes up just 9% of Texas.

And yet, it is precisely those vast stretches of barrenness that create such stark contrast with the flourishing farmlands of the Nile Delta—a ribbon of emerald through a sea of sand. This Nile Valley farmland is mostly cultivated on a small scale, not as agribusiness. We saw countless farmers working with donkeys, often piled high with produce or supporting their cajoling owner. But even seeing these beautiful cultivated regions offers its contradictions: all along the fields is modern plastic garbage piled in the medians, creating an incongruous foreground for the fieldworkers whose traditional attire and rhythms seem indistinguishable from 2,000 years ago.

A Westerner finds other sights to be astonished at—an 18-wheeler barreling down the road, top down, with a trailer full of camels! At random intervals along the highway, we came to ‘checkpoints’ or just partial roadblocks that slowed traffic, allowing small fruit stands or hawkers of various wares to ply the passing vehicles with their goods. It’s somewhat befuddling to repeatedly see a Muslim woman, burka-clad in black from head to foot, not even showing eyes, standing out in the middle of the highway peddling cigarettes! Yes, it is a land of contradictions.

As we ventured further and further from Cairo, midway between there and our destination, the driver instructed us to cover the van windows with the attached green curtains. He explained that this was a very ‘Muslim’ area and additionally, the ‘police’ might be prone to harass us if they discovered foreigners were traveling in his van.

Kash sat shotgun, Teb directly behind him, and the rest of us tried to stay obscure behind the curtains and tinted windows. One immediately senses just how volatile this situation could become as the van grinds to a halt behind a row of cars, and drivers explain their destination and purpose to armed federal ‘thugs’ in the middle of the road. No one of us said a word; we stayed pretty still as our driver forcefully repeated the same Arabic word again and again—‘Miṣriyyīn! Miṣriyyīn!’

We all sighed in relief as the van launched back into motion, widening the distance between us and the ‘bad thugs.’ In barely understandable English, the driver explained that he told the agents we were ‘All Egyptians, all Egyptians!’ His lie—not ours.

Upon our arrival, two dear brothers from the church here in Egypt greeted us warmly. With faces beaming and hugs all around, they were saying, “Habibi, Habibi!” (“You’re Loved!”).

The pastor and his family graciously invited us over for a fantastic meal of authentic Egyptian food. There were many different kinds of cheeses, breads that would remind you of piratas, and delicious falafel. They are a wonderful group of big-hearted, childlike, and sincere Christians!

Minya is an ancient city located on the banks of the Nile in Egypt. It is the region of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s capital, the most unconventional monarch in 5000 years of Egyptian history, known for his radical shift to monotheism. 

“The Ipuwer Papyrus” is an ancient Egyptian “prophecy” which some scholars attribute to this same time period (though others date it earlier), as it depicts events shockingly similar to those found in the book of Exodus. 

The Ipuwer Papyrus:
“Behold, the river is blood, and one drinks from it.“
“All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan…”
“Behold, trees are destroyed, no fruits nor herbs are found…” 
“The land is not light…” 
“He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere” 
“It is groaning that is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations” 

In the days of Akhenaten, the previous Pharaoh was suddenly killed, along with his heir, leaving the throne to go to his nephew, Akhenaten. This young Pharaoh was unlike any before or after him. He believed in one God! This belief drove him to deface the faces and gods of his people throughout the land and abolish the polytheistic state bureaucracy run by the priests. The only monotheist in Egypt’s history. (“I will execute judgment on all the gods of Egypt.”)

There’s no concrete evidence, either archaeological or literary, that supports the idea of the exodus occurring during Ramesses the Second’s reign. The fact that the Bible mentions Israelites living in the ‘land of Ramesses’ doesn’t necessarily mean that they lived contemporaneously with or after Ramesses. This is because scripture often refers to regions by their contemporary names. For instance, it mentions Joseph and the Israelites living in ‘Goshen,’ but it also acknowledges that it wasn’t called that until later. Therefore, the Bible also refers to the ‘land of Rameses,’ even though it wasn’t known by that name when the Israelites were there.

So, here we are—in a land of such history and contradictions. I think that one contradiction is simply the fact that we are out here in the middle of nowhere, preparing to spend four full days ministering to devout Christians who are needing more from God. But I suppose all redemption is a story in contrast—the irony of hope coming from despair, beauty from ashes, vibrant life from decrepit tombs of human loss. And in that sense, the driver was right: we are “all Egyptians” trying to become children of God and find our stride in this exodus of salvation. Maybe promise, miracles and power can still emerge from the murky waters of the Nile. Perhaps another contradiction is getting ready to be born—a vibrant expression of the Spirit’s power here in the barren land of Egypt. ‘Out of Egypt, I have called My son.’

Pray for us. These are going to be packed, exhausting days. We seek God’s wisdom and strength to match the message to the need, break the bread of life, and see the multiplication that only He can create.

It’s your prayers and support in the Spirit that have carried us this far—from Turkey to Israel, to Uganda, and now to Egypt. 

‘Your kingdom come; Your will be done!’

We love you all!

Asi

Uganda

Well, we are just wrapping up quite a day—our last in Uganda.

We taught at length on what it means to dethrone the tyrant of self and find freedom from the pride of certainty in our own perspective. Many of us brothers contributed by sharing testimonies, insights, and truth from the Word of God. The theme has remained consistent throughout: you’re not going to get all the grace you need directly from God alone; you’re going to have to humble yourself to receive grace in its various forms from the body.

After that, we taught extensively on becoming part of the bride of Christ through baptism, by means of the pledge of a good conscience—becoming the bondslave of Christ by losing our independent autonomy and assuming His name, identity, and very Spirit.

The back-and-forth dialogue was intense at times. The pastor who came yesterday brought an even larger contingent of his fellowship today. At one point, he leapt to his feet and asked, “I’ve been baptized in Jesus’ name already, but what must I do to be part of this kingdom community that you describe—should I be baptized again?” We feel a great deal of respect for this man; he could be a pivotal asset to this work.

We had intensive talks about marriage. The culture here necessitates that the bride and groom cannot be married until he has paid the dowry, which costs exorbitantly, and has financed an epic wedding, another fortune. Thus, people live in sin, as if married for years or even decades, waiting for the day when they can pay the dowry and afford the epic feast. Subscribing to cultural customs forces them to live in sin. We did a lot of dismantling and reasserting of God’s patterns and word.

At the end, we had a powerful baptism of five new members to this fledgling church. Two couples also took marriage vows, consecrating their unions for the first time.

Our hearts have been expanded and enriched by this experience. These are dear, lovable children of God, and there are so many more ready to take initial steps toward the kingdom. You feel the burden of the Lord as we search to know how to support, guide, and protect this fledgling work. Please pray for them. One sister, formerly resistant to the path God is leading them onto, said today that she wants to be in the next baptism, and that is a massive victory!

Emmanuel is remarkably gifted—has the decisiveness and authority of a true leader, the anointing and charisma to lead worship like you can’t imagine, and the depth of conviction to appreciate the bona fide word of life. Pray for him—that he might visit us in Waco, and that God would support and uphold him in this enormous task.

We love you all. We head out for Egypt tomorrow. We covet your continued prayers!

Uganda

It’s 7:30 AM as I watch the sunrise over Lake Victoria, feeling the hope and inspiration of God‘s grace for this small fellowship and what they can become for His glory.

Yesterday was incredibly full—one session after another. We presented the following teachings:

• The gospel of the kingdom,
• The kingdom as the power of the Spirit instituted through the church,
• Repentance as dethroning the false king of self,
• And the baptism of the Spirit as the medium through which the King reigns.

Over seven hours, God gave us the grace to make the vision plain. We answered countless questions, ranging from free grace to “demonology” and eschatology. Some in attendance included leaders from neighboring churches, such as Brother Bennett, a dear man whose heart is being knit together with this work.

After our long day of sessions, Kash met with five baptismal candidates—individuals who have been walking faithfully with Emmanuel for some time now and are approaching water baptism in Jesus’ name.

Today, we anticipate baptizing five new members, performing marriage reconsecration for a handful of couples, and continuing to teach the word, bringing the whole message of this whole life in Christ!

Thank you for your continued prayers. We feel sustained and uplifted by your love and spiritual support!

With much love,

Asi, with the whole team!

Uganda

It’s 8:00 AM Monday morning.

We are in the immediate vicinity of Brother Emmanuel, who is pastoring the budding congregation here on a remote finger of land protruding into Lake Victoria, south and east of Kampala, due east of Busiro.

We landed in Entebbe and were warmly greeted by the happy faces of dear brothers—Craig Macfarlane from South Africa, Caleb Scarborough, Emmanuel, and several of his members.

Our journey took over three hours to reach this remote area, often over “roads” whose rugged, chaotic condition defied the moniker. We arrived at our lodging just after midnight on Saturday night. We’re staying on the property of a wealthy tile merchant, whom Emmanuel has befriended.

This is definitely the tropics—everything grows, the trees are massive, there are more bird varieties than can be counted, and tropical fruits are plentiful. It is quite humid. There are heaps of mosquitoes, no air conditioning, and few “modern” amenities.

We met with Emmanuel’s congregation for just under three hours yesterday morning (Sunday). Their beautiful melodies and rousing worship were refreshing. They give themselves freely to worship God, coming as little children, and you feel His smile of acceptance beaming down on their praise. Brother Emmanuel is quite the worship leader, along with Sister Margaret, a lady in the church.

They introduced us and invited us to share. We spoke on expanding our faith by acting on the mustard seed God gives us. God was widening their vision, strengthening their resolve, expanding their framework for what’s possible, and helping them see that one day, they will be an inspiration and example to other congregations, even as so many around the world—Israel, South Africa, New Zealand—serve as such an example to them today. In the meeting, Brother Emmanuel illustrated the admonition to take one small step in obedience by explaining that, after hearing the new revelation and message from Randy and Kash, he asked them, “What should I do? What is my next step?” He said that Kash answered him, not at all as he expected, or desired. He simply said, “Look around this churchyard. Sweep it, clean it, and bring it into God’s order.”

Emmanuel shared that this was the turning point of his life—a decision and test to receive one simple word from God instead of waiting for the magical transformation he thought he needed.

Later, we toured Brother Emmanuel’s farm and church property. God’s glory shone from every corner. The church, though simple, is immaculate, and the yard is swept. The grass is mowed, and they’ve dug a 60-foot well that allows church members and all the surrounding neighbors to draw water, instead of going down to Lake Victoria—a much further distance.

His compound of living structures, where he accommodates 19 church people—families, singles, elderly, and young—is clean and orderly. Our brothers have helped him start a chicken business, where he is hatching, raising, slaughtering, and selling beautiful, meaty birds. This has proved an economic boon to his fellowship. His permaculture food forest is phenomenal—towering avocado trees, 50 feet in the air, loaded with fruit, flourishing coffee plants, vanilla bean stalks, loaded, cassava, tomatoes, pumpkins, bananas—you name it. The 19 people living there are almost entirely fed from that tiny acreage.

Today is Monday, and in about an hour, meetings, teachings, question and answer sessions will begin and stretch on through till evening. Leaders from other churches will also be gathering, some of whom we feel a lot for. Pray for us—that God will give us strength and wisdom, and sharpen our word to match the readiness and need of these people, so that they may run who hear it.

We love you all. Thank you for standing in your places on the wall. We are serving at different locations, but laboring for the same city, the same kingdom, and the same great King!

May God anoint, grace, advance, and bless all our efforts for His glory—in His name!

Turkey

Dear Brothers,

I wanted to give you an update on our time here in Turkey. It’s 6:30 AM, and the call to prayer echoes around the city, though it mostly still sleeps. We are departing for Istanbul in less than an hour.

Yesterday, we spent a significant amount of time with a few Christian leaders in this area. To them, the oppression from Islamic states is just a way of life. The main leader, whom I’ll simply call “Pastor,” is from Iraq and will be forced to return there and to his church after hopefully visiting us in Texas in the near future.

God has given us clear direction for aiding the persecuted church with our brothers gifted in communication technology. While discretion in describing such matters is advised, our prayer is that Christians will be able to safely connect with each other and find ministry of the truth in the form of introductory recordings and videos on the essentials of faith. In service to this cause, we have formed many meaningful connections with believers from around the world. Pray that God will allow us to meet this desperate need for the persecuted church, offering a full message and teaching of truth.

At one point, the Pastor seemed a bit confrontational, expressing a desire for clarity on our doctrine before further networking. Initially apprehensive about devolving into useless wrangling disconnected from the relational fruit in Christ, I nonetheless encouraged him to voice his most pressing questions. He immediately inquired about the incarnation and nature of Jesus. My response brought a huge smile to his face. He shared that he had been rebuked by fellow pastors for being “Jesus only.” Not understanding this label, he attempted to research “Jesus only,” hoping he would find like-minded people but had no success in learning about this group. Nonetheless, God had given him the revelation that people should be baptized in Jesus’ name. Though not fully versed or accurate in every theological detail, the Lord had shown him the essential difference between scripture and the traditional concept of the Trinity, and he has since baptized in Jesus’ name, having never encountered Oneness Pentecostals.

Over dinner, we had a beautiful time of shared food and fellowship. Some of us retired to our rooms, while Kash, Danny, and Teb met with a Kurdish brother from Iran. After a time of sharing hearts, confession, and seeking God, they prayed him through to the Holy Spirit, and he began speaking in tongues!

God’s goodness and grace have been tangibly felt throughout this brief season in Turkey. Seeds have been sown, insights gained, and direction received. Thank you for your prayers; it is the grace of the body of Christ that we channel into every conversation and encounter.

Thank you for your continued support in spirit as we prepare to depart from Turkey tomorrow morning for Entebbe, Uganda, to serve, strengthen, and establish the budding fellowship there.

With much love,

Asi

Turkey

It’s 9 AM here in Turkey. We had an excellent opening meeting last night with a house church full of people, opening their hearts to the message of the body of Christ and the necessity of the Holy Spirit. However, we’ve just received word that the authorities disapproved of last night’s gathering; the church group is only authorized to have one meeting a week and would have required a permit for both an additional meeting and to receive ministry from foreigners. At this point, it seems that the remainder of our corporate meetings will be impossible, but we will do our best to edify the leadership.
We request your prayers for God’s wisdom and guidance, and that he would multiply our efforts for his purpose.

That day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God …. You know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:3-4,6-7)

The massacre on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas, is the second deadliest school shooting since 2012, when 26 children and adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and it was at least the 30th shooting at a K-12 school so far in 2022. Our hearts and prayers break for the families and friends of the victims of this horrible, beastly tragedy.

The Divide

The growing frequency and scale of mass public shootings since the watershed 1999 Columbine High School Massacre is genuinely alarming.

The solutions have only become more divided. The left demands gun control and gun confiscation—even repealing the Second Amendment. The right wants to increase school security, increase social media surveillance, enact red flag laws and reopen state wards for mental health.

Liberals: Gun Control

Liberals have one answer to gun violence: beware of the NRA. They believe that a bogeyman called the gun lobby is to blame for all gun violence. In responding to the Uvalde shootings, President Biden began his speech with what appeared to be genuine compassion for the parents who had lost their children. Having lost two children himself, he knows the feeling of loss. However, Biden stuck to the line for about two minutes, then devoted the rest of his speech to political potshots.

“As a nation we have to ask, ‘When in God’s name are we gonna stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?’ …. I spent my career as a senator and as a vice president working to pass common sense gun laws. We can’t and won’t prevent every tragedy. But we know they work and have positive impact …. The idea that an eighteen-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong. What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone? …. And the gun manufacturers [have] spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the most and largest profit. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.” -President Joe Biden

The rest of his political party wasted no time before falling into line and dutifully reading the talking points.

“Stop saying, ‘It’s not guns that kill people; it’s people that kill people.’ It’s guns that kill people! Okay?” -Joy Behar

“I want them to show the same energy for banning guns. There is no reason why an eighteen-year-old should have access to weapons of war that can kill children in a matter of seconds.” -Ana Navarro

“They’re gonna come for those AR-15’s, and you better get ready to give them up because this is America. We were supposed to be able to do things and be the people we wanted to be, and now we are in a crazy place.” -Whoopi Goldberg

“…background checks, red flag laws, the Charleston loophole, assault weapons, and other ideas…” -Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

“I think that we need some really drastic action here. We need a moratorium, perhaps, on gun sales …. Who will say—on this network, or any other network in the next few days—‘It’s time to repeal the Second Amendment’? Oh, you can’t say that! Well, why not? Why not? I truly believe that if Jefferson and Washington and Madison—if they all knew that the bullet would be invented some fifty years after our Revolution, I don’t know if they would’ve written it that way. They didn’t even know what a bullet was! It didn’t exist until the 1830’s. And if they had any idea that there would be this kind of carnage, you would have to believe that the founders of this country wouldn’t support it …. Look, I support all gun control legislation—not sensible gun control. We don’t need the sensible stuff; we need the hardcore stuff that’s going to protect ourselves and our children. I don’t know if we’re willing to do that, but I will say that I do have thoughts and prayers, and those thoughts and prayers are to remove as many Republicans—as many people as support this evil policy—this coming November.” -Michael Moore

Would mass shootings stop if the left had their way and guns were banned or confiscated?

Blame the Gun?

Since the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, the number of individual guns has increased, yet the number or percentage of people who own guns has decreased. If we’ve had the Second Amendment for almost 250 years and are only now seeing the rise in mass public gun violence, is it fair or reasonable or even accurate to blame an inanimate object—the gun—for the problem?

It’s been said that the way liberals talk about gun possession, you’d think they believe that the gun itself is possessed by some unknown evil spirit that can be terminated by destroying the weapon. They seem to forget that an actual criminal is using the firearm. If criminals lose access to guns, will they not find another method? The terrorists who crashed the hijacked planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11 gained access to the cockpits not with a gun but with a box blade. Is the solution to stopping terrorism merely banning box blades? The Boston Marathon bomb was made out of a pressure cooker. Do we go after Bed, Bath & Beyond and the sale of pressure cookers? The argument for gun control is like assuming that if we ban forks and spoons, people will no longer be obese! Yet illicit weapons always find their way to the wrong hands, just as illicit drugs do.

This truth was tragically demonstrated on the same day as the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. On that same day, a deranged man entered an older woman’s home in central China. He robbed her and then attacked her with a kitchen knife. After wounding the woman, the attacker went across the street to an elementary school where he slashed 23 children before being detained. The school officials only had brooms and rakes as defense against the criminal. The obvious irony here is that criminals will find a replacement whenever one weapon is no longer available.

The Conservative Response: Increased School Security and Red Flag Laws

Since the Uvalde shooting, conservatives have pretty uniformly stuck to two primary talking points as the answer for preventing a tragedy like this from happening again. One, harden soft targets (increase school security); and two, create an early warning system to catch a would-be murderer before he commits the crime. Here is the conservative response from Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton:

“In 2013 I introduced legislation that would spend $300 million on federal grants to harden schools, to make them safer, to make them more protected … to harden their security, to put in bulletproof doors, bulletproof glass, to put in armed police officers to protect kids.” -Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“…we just spent $40 billion on the Ukraine to help protect another nation. It seems like the least we could do is fund a police officer, or at least a program—because obviously there are thousands and thousands of schools in this country—a program that trains people in the school so that when this does happen—‘cause it will happen again; we know it’s going to happen—so if we know it’s going to happen, let’s do everything we can to prevent it from turning into the situation we just had yesterday.” -Ken Paxton (R-TX)

Fox News Prime Time hosts, Jesse Watters and Sean Hannity, summed up the right’s agenda succinctly:

“Here’s the prime time plan: first, we need to harden our schools. They’re soft targets for killers like Ramos …. We also need to get to the bottom of the mental health crisis in schools. There need to be counselors in every school paying attention to students—flagging odd behavior, noting who’s having a hard time at home—and get the kids the help they need …. But if we’re really going to make a bit of difference on the inside of schools, we need to pay closer attention to what’s happening on the outside of school. I’m talking about social media. How many times have we heard that these crazy shooters left online footprints? Tech companies need to come up with a system, an algorithm that could easily detect and flag when somebody posts homicidal threats like, ‘I’m gonna shoot up an elementary school’. And the community has to get more involved—parents, friends, pastors, neighbors. If you see something, say something.” -Jesse Watters

“Maybe we should save a few of those billions of dollars and send them to every school in the country, so they can hire well-trained, well-qualified, armed guards—particularly retired police officers, retired military.” -Sean Hannity

More Government Control

I don’t disagree with this first proposal: increasing security at schools. If we put a good cop in every building and street corner, we would probably prevent most violence. But let’s not fool ourselves: this solution is a call for more government, more surveillance, more scrutiny over private citizens’ lives. And it doesn’t change the internal motivation of the shooter. It simply increases the reach of the State and its retributive justice and discourages a would-be criminal from perpetrating his crime in a particular place.

It also shouldn’t be lost on parents that the State’s compulsory education system is the place where these crimes are taking place. In short, they force you to send your kids to the schools, but then when the kids are harmed at the schools, they’re going to take away the rights of private citizens as a result.

More Government Surveillance

The second solution, so-called “red-flag” laws, also doesn’t address the reason shooters are prone to commit violence in the first place. A sort of benign-sounding “neighborhood crime watch” system attempts to profile potential perpetrators of gun violence if they show enough disturbing signs and either prevents them from purchasing a gun or attempts to seize their weapons before they can commit a crime. This is done through increased social media and other surveillance.

This not only infringes on our Constitution’s fundamental principles of the presumption of innocence and the due process requirement of proof-of-criminal behavior before liberty can be violated, but it also creates a neighbor-reporting-neighbor profiling mechanism that could be turned against any segment of society that government wishes to profile, surveil or control. If Constitutional liberty such as the Second Amendment can be taken away based on something the government believes I might do, where does this end? Which right will they infringe upon next? Religious freedom under the First Amendment is one right that has certainly been infringed upon in other nations.

Mental Health Profiling

One more solution that conservatives talk about is at least an attempt to provide some answer for the internal motivation of a mass public shooter (liberals don’t even try). Conservatives say that the underlying problem producing mass shootings is mental illness. They urge that if we could analyze past mass public shootings and find the element of mental disorder that plagues the shooter, we could then address those issues through mental health laws.

The mental health argument is a broad diagnosis that doesn’t tell us a lot. There’s not much evidence to back up the claim that mental health issues predict violent outbursts. Even though as many as one in five people in the U.S. experiences a supposed mental illness event every year, people with severe mental health problems account for only three percent of violent crimes.

Additionally, between 1991 and 2018, the use of antidepressants spiked by three thousand percent. Remember, these drugs are supposed to help with mental illness. During COVID lockdowns, the use of these drugs increased by another twenty percent. Again, antidepressants are supposed to help curb violent and suicidal tendencies, yet both of these things have only increased. 

And just what are the common factors to pinpoint that would indicate a “mental health” condition predictive of violence? Is this not the start of a slide down a slippery slope—asking the government to guess at our potential mental health problems? In Soviet Russia, as well as present-day China, devoted Christians were classified as “mentally unstable.” Even though Joy Behar later apologized, this current co-host of ABC’s The View once defined former Vice-President Mike Pence as mentally deranged because of his Pentecostal faith!

“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus; it’s another thing when Jesus talks to you …. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct, hearing voices.” -Joy Behar

In the view of this TV host, hearing from God is mental illness—“hearing voices!” Conservatives need to be careful about opening “Pandora’s box” in their attempt to blame anything but guns for the problem.

More Problems than Solutions

So which scenario is better? The model proposed by conservatives invites government surveillance and control of mental health matters, monitoring social media, receiving reports from neighbors, adding armed guards to schools and more big government. (Sounds very conservative, right?)

On the other hand, if you take the liberal side and ban guns, it makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to obtain weapons, but criminals will continue to obtain them illegally and will then use them with impudence on a now-disarmed population. What do you do then? The almighty government will have to step in to protect with more law enforcement, installing a deputy on every corner and a cop in every building: more big government.

Both roads ultimately lead to the same destination: the open arms of a savior federal government. Neither solution provides a cure to the underlying core issue that caused the violent tendencies in the first place.

Since You Mentioned Asia…

Back to Joe Biden’s speech after the Uvalde shooting, when he brought up another talking point that is both curious and terrifying.

“I just got off a trip from Asia meeting with Asian leaders, and I learned of this while I was on the aircraft. And what struck me on that seventeen-hour flight—what struck me was [that] these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world …. Why? …. They have mental health problems. They have domestic experience in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen [with] in America. Why?” -President Joe Biden

Is he saying that his vision for America is the regimes of Asia?

“America’s gun epidemic is unmatched by any of our peer nations in the world.” -Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-NY)

“This only happens in this country, and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day.” -Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

This is almost a compelling argument. But there’s something else that’s never happened in America, yet has tragically occurred in Europe, Asia and everywhere else in the world. What are we talking about? Totalitarianism. Naziism happened in Europe. The Khmer Rouge happened in Asia. Mao’s China happened in Asia. The Kamikaze culture happened in Asia. But none of those expressions of run-amok, runaway government have ever happened in America.

Hillary Clinton once said, “People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth. The difference is the guns.”

It’s not. The difference is the degree of government control. What if the only difference between America and the peer nations that these liberals are referring to is that they are only managing the violent tendencies of their subjects through increased, total State control? I will submit to you that this is a welcome solution to most liberals.

We have to ask a question, a frightening question: what if a people’s own government is more dangerous and lethal than the all-terrifying AR-15, even in the hands of a deranged killer?

A Greater Threat than AR-15’s

“Democide” is a term coined by American political scientist Rudolph Rummel to describe “the intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command.” In the twentieth century alone, 262 million people were killed outside of war by their own governments. Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, democide murdered six times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the twentieth century. Rummel coined what he called the Power Principle: “Power kills, absolute power kills absolutely.” He argued that “concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.”

So while we’re eager to stamp out the lone gunman with a big long gun, the only solution is to turn to the safe arms of what this political scientist calls the most dangerous threat to human life on earth: big government. That is what Europe has that we have never had; that is what Asia has that we have never had. Let’s just be clear that that’s the choice we make when we surrender liberty in exchange for security.

Even when government takes away all rights that could have belonged to responsible citizens, the violence does not stop. Banning guns and creating red flag laws don’t work because countries with the tightest gun laws and liberal surveillance still see horrible gun violence, and they are now seeing criminals use alternative weapons that are at least as deadly as guns. These alternate weapons are now being used in the United States, too.

Some control is needed — most agree on that! But what is the nature of that control? A few people are talking about it, and they may be getting closer to the answer. 

“Every time one of these tragedies occurs, I think we for far too long just failed to look back at the root causes of rampant violence … questions involving things like, why is our culture suddenly producing so many young men who want to murder innocent people? Or [it] raises questions like, could things like fatherlessness, the breakdown of families, isolation from civil society, or the glorification of violence be contributing factors?” -Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

“These are crimes that get to the very core of who we are as people. And I think as people we have to look internally, and how did we get here? This was an evil act; there’s a lot that we’re gonna learn and that’s gonna unfold in the days and weeks ahead about this shooter. But tonight, we’ve got to unify in prayer, we have to unify in faith, we have to unify in who [we are]. Tucker, when I grew up, and most of the people watching grew up, and you, we didn’t have these situations. We didn’t have mass shooters in our schools; we didn’t have this evil. And so we really have to look at us as a people, as a country, because we can do a lot of things, and Texas has done a lot of things after the Santa Fe shooting. Obviously we have to do more; we have to harden these targets so no one can get in ever except through one entrance. Maybe that would help; maybe that would stop someone. But it’s really bigger than that, Tucker.” 

-Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R-TX)

“There are things we can do, but the most important thing, Tucker, is figuring out what’s going on culturally with this country. We are callous, we are partisan, we are not spiritual, and we have lost meaning.” -Will Cain

“The problem is that the human mind is much more complex and harder to control than we like to admit. A person who is intent on committing violence is very hard to stop under any circumstances. An act of Congress isn’t gonna do it; neither will gun control …. The only way to stop these killings is to figure out why American society is producing so many violent young men. There is a reason they are acting this way; what is that reason? And it’s not just mass shooters, by the way, the ones you see on television; it’s gang bangers and car jackers and armed robbers and indiscriminate haters who push strangers in front of subway trains. We have a lot of people like that in this country all of a sudden, more than you like to think about. Why are they acting this way? That’s the only question that matters …. It didn’t use to happen; it’s happening now. Why? It’s not guns; it’s not the “gun lobby.” More American families had guns at home fifty years ago than they do now. According to the Rand corporation which studied this, 45 percent of American homes had a gun in 1980. In 2016, that had dropped to 32 percent. So the problem is not that we’re more armed than we were; the problem is that people have changed. Young men have changed; they’re more violent. Why?” -Tucker Carlson

We’ve been involved in a cultural experiment that has systematically removed the restraint of Judeo-Christian culture from our lives, and now—when that experiment is backfiring horribly—we want to blame the tool instead of the source of the problem.

From the Heart…”

I have to look at this as a Christian and as a minister. In Matthew 15:19, Jesus answered the question of where violence comes from. He said, “Out of the heart comes…murder….” What’s needed is not more State control over the murderer’s weapon; what’s needed is for Someone greater to control the heart that produced the violence in the first place. That Someone can only be God. 

The Founders of our country believed that people must be controlled by their conscience and by the invisible moral fabric of a shared community ethic. They understood that this underlying morality was necessary if the unique experiment of limited government they had created in the American Constitution stood any chance of success. Ronald Reagan echoed this sentiment when he remarked:

“The basis of those ideals and principles is a commitment to freedom, personal liberty, that itself is grounded in the much deeper realization that freedom prospers only where blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted. The American experiment in democracy rests on this insight. Its discovery was the great triumph of our founding fathers, voiced by William Penn when he said, ‘If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants.’ Explaining the inalienable rights of men, Jefferson said, ‘The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.’ And it was George Washington who said that ‘of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.’” -Ronald Reagan

John Adams, speaking to the Massachusetts militia, said the following: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

He also wrote in 1785: “Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.”

The framers of the Constitution and those who contributed to its underlying principles understood that subjection to God and the moral code embedded in creation itself were prerequisites to the freedoms afforded under the limited government they created. Responsibility must come before liberty. You can only be afforded liberty in proportion to the internal restraint you have. Men always become unbridled and ultimately degenerate into their worst tendencies without subjection to a power higher than themselves. The bridle comes from the “Governor of the Universe” or the State. With the moral restraints that existed in early America, its citizens could enjoy the freedoms and privileges of living under a limited government, the likes of which the world had never seen. 

Subjection to the Governor of the Universe”

In 1831, just about forty years after the ratification of the Bill of Rights, Alexis de Tocqueville, a French diplomat, was commissioned to examine prisons and penitentiaries in the United States. On his trip, he wrote extensively on the morality of the general American population in this relatively new democratic republic and its effects on crime. In the extensive notes which later became his book Democracy in America, he observed: “Nothing is more striking to a European traveler in the United States than the absence of what we term the Government or the Administration. Written laws exist in America, and one sees that they are daily executed; but although everything is in motion, the hand which gives the impulse to the social machine can nowhere be discovered.” 

Alexis de Tocqueville was astonished to see something different in America than he had experienced in Europe. There were no government agents on every corner, yet law and order were being observed.

What was the unseen hand which held the social order together in 1830’s America? Alexis de Tocqueville continued: “…All communities are obliged to secure their existence by submitting to a certain dose of authority, without which they fall prey to anarchy. This authority may be distributed in several ways, but it must always exist somewhere.”

In other words, citizens would have to choose whether they would submit to the unseen and noncoercive hand internally restraining their baser tendencies or submit to the iron yoke of tyranny. If they did not choose the former, the latter would result by default.

De Tocqueville continued further: “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith …. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there … in her fertile fields and boundless forests, and it was not there … in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there … in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

The Resulting Loss of Freedom

Tragically, the moral foundation that our country was built on has been ridiculed, undermined, eviscerated and destroyed. This has happened as the core institutions of America—media and entertainment, fashion, education, literature and so on—have become increasingly secularized and antithetical to the small religious communities that once instilled moral values in early America. The real genius of totalitarianism has been to minimize the place of religion and destroy community morals and ethics, all while knowing that by removing the invisible hand of God and conscience, the only hindrance to anarchy would be the unfettered State government.

Once the bonds of moral restraint on the country’s citizenry have been loosed, does it not become irresponsible to give the same freedoms afforded under moral restraint? In the case of a gun, I’d rightly be considered mentally insane to provide one to my five-year-old son. The freedom of the gun must be predicated on the responsibility of the one I’m giving it to, or else I’m complicit in the destruction that my five year old would no doubt unleash.

Religion, and the ethics and morality that it instilled, were not a peripheral afterthought, or a sidenote, to the America that the Founding Fathers framed. If they could have envisioned the evil taking place today without the restraint of religious morality, would they have granted us these rights in the first place? This raises serious questions about what our country may do to its Constitution to secure the “safety” of its citizens now that we have destroyed moral restraint. Many on the right cling to the Bill of Rights as to the Ten Commandments, yet they fail to see the incremental loss of freedom once the foundational moral restraint has been removed.

Youre Gonna Have to Serve Somebody”

Millennia before the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence, the Apostle Paul laid out this principle in his epistles to the Roman and the Corinthian churches. Paul said, “All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). And again he said, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). That’s the only place where liberty can truly be found—in subjection to the Governor of the Universe. 

If man’s baser nature and ugly demons of violence and hate are not restrained by faith and God, only an all-encompassing totalitarian State will ultimately suffice.

What made the revolution that produced the Constitution of the United States of America so different from every other political revolution before is the premise that man—so long as he maintained his place before his Creator—could have the freedom to discover the path of destiny marked out for him. People would be constrained by one bridle or another—either the bridle of internal moral restraint or the iron bonds of statist control.

In Genesis, God called Abraham to an exodus from a totalitarian regime, Ur of Mesopotamia. Abraham fathered the most formative worldview in world history—the Judeo-Christian ethos—and its moral restraints and ethics would become the backbone for history’s most remarkable civilizations.

God said to Abraham, “Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him …. For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Gen. 18:18-26).

The awe of freedom with a corresponding moral duty must be instilled in each generation, or the liberties we enjoy today will tomorrow be lost to tyranny. 

“Our Founding Fathers, here in this country, brought about the only true revolution that has ever taken place in man’s history. Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another set of rulers. But only here did that little band of men so advanced beyond their time that the world has never seen their like since, evolve the idea that you and I have within ourselves the God-given right and the ability to determine our own destiny. But freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” -President Ronald Reagan

Conclusion

We are now in the throes of yet another revolution. Those who promised America freedom from moral restraint through the sexual revolution, entertainment and materialistic hedonism, knew that this so-called “freedom” would cost the American people their liberty. And the church, called to be the energizing force holding family and community together and upholding the moral order of the Governor of the Universe, has been slowly dismantled and taken out of the way, becoming now a mere chaplaincy service to the world, blindly blessing everything the world wants to do and be.

Politics may promise to change people’s economic status, improve their health and secure physical safety, but only God can transform the human heart. In the scripture I read earlier from Matthew, Jesus told us that from within a man comes every kind of evil. Change the man, restore internal restraint, and transform the nation. 

Americans enjoy more liberty than any other citizens of the world. There will be more danger and harm accompanying this liberty, now that liberty is divorced from moral restraint and responsibility in a religious society.

Guns are not the problem; evil is the problem. Guns are merely tools. Hatred, sectarianism, narcissism and violence are the problem. 

We have erroneously made our moral decay a political question. The Second Amendment, which has remained constant since 1791, cannot be the cause of our current horrors. We must identify variables that have adjusted our society and created this present spectacle, never seen until the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. Why do we imagine that evil has a political solution? 

The architects of tyranny were too shrewd to attack our political rights overtly. Instead, they systematically assaulted our moral fabric, and we became complicit in its dissolution—all in the name of so-called “freedom”. Now the political rights we once had will begin to fall like dominoes, having no moral basis of responsibility to support these weighty freedoms. 

John Adams claimed that the Constitution was wholly inadequate for governing any but a moral, religious people. I repeat: tyranny’s agents left us an inheritance of totalitarianism by systematically removing–not initially, political rights–but society’s moral restraint that alone made our rare political rights possible and responsible. 

A renaissance of Constitutional liberty can only follow a revival of spirituality, responsibility and family in society. 

The apostle Paul declares, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1:16, NIV).

He uses similar language when speaking to the Corinthians when he says, “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” ( 1 Cor. 1:18, NASB).

Paul does not say that the gospel is a true announcement about God’s power. Instead, he says that the gospel itself is the power of God unto salvation. The word “power” that he’s using here is the Greek word “dunamis” from which we get our English word “dynamite.” This word means: mighty, miraculous power, and enabling strength. 

Reductionist Gospel: Status Change

The popular reductionist gospel of our day seems to herald a message that says corrupt people can enjoy legal status change before an angry Father, exempting them from judgment and all consequences for their continual rebellious hearts and lifestyles. But we find that this gospel amounts to little more than a legal status change and lacks the promised power indicative of the true gospel. In fact, the reductionist gospel, while pleasant to the ear and welcome to the flesh, seems to propagate a growing harvest of narcissism, unholy living and fragmentation throughout the church.

We believe Scripture portrays the saving gospel of Jesus Christ very differently. What is the gospel? The gospel is the “good news” that a saving relationship with God is now possible through Jesus Christ—because of His death, burial and resurrection.  

Historical Context

When Jesus introduced the term “gospel,” “evangelion” in Greek, He borrowed it from the most powerful political leader in the world, Caesar Augustus. Though the individual word simply means “good news,” the term assumed broader implications and significance in Jesus’ day. It became a political term, announcing the arrival of a political god: Caesar Augustus. One influential theologian tells us that the term “gospel” could be better understood in its fullest sense as “revolution,” which refers to a complete overthrow of a social order or government. Caesar was acclaimed as a “god in human form, working miracles and healing men,” freeing people from the yoke of oppression everywhere. 

For the audience of His day, the very word Christ chose denoted a kingdom, a worldwide spiritual nation. He rarely refers to the “gospel” without alluding to the kingdom. He calls it “the gospel of the kingdom.” Jesus declared, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, NASB). The word Jesus chose for His salvation message was as closely tied to the concept of a kingdom as the word “campaign” today is to politics. In other words, He was not simply announcing individual liberty; He was declaring the inauguration of a new community, a worldwide cooperative of people living harmoniously under the guidance and rule of God in heaven. 

Gospel of Wrath?

If Jesus had peddled the Gospel we most often hear about today, He would not have said, “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” He would’ve said something more like, “The wrath of God is at hand; accept Me as your private Savior who obeys God in your place.” Today’s gospel emphasizes God’s wrath, suggesting that Jesus came and died on the cross to appease a God boiling with anger and violence against us. But Jesus did not say, “God so hated the world but killed his only Son instead.” No, Jesus declared that it was God’s love for humanity that sent His only begotten Son to die in our place. 

Gospel of The Kingdom

We started by saying that the gospel was good news that a relationship with God was now possible through Christ. But we’ve been talking a lot about the kingdom. How does the kingdom pertain to our saving relationship with God? Jesus used the term “kingdom”  simply to refer to God’s covenant people. This community is also called the “church” or the “body of Christ,” or the “bride of Christ.” This community of God’s covenant people can even be called the “Temple.”

The church is Christ’s bride: Isa. 62:5; Hosea 2:19; 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:2, 9; Rev. 22:17.

The church is Christ’s body: Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 6:15; 1 Cor. 10:17; 1 Cor. 12:7, 12, 20, 27; Eph. 4:4, 12, 16; Eph. 2:16; Col. 3:15; Gal. 3:16.

The church is Christ’s kingdom: Matt. 16:18-19; John 18:36; Col. 1:13; Acts 8:12; 1 Cor. 4:8; Rom. 5:17; Eph. 2:19-22; Rev. 1:5-6.

The Church is Christ’s temple: John 2:19; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 3:9-11; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:5; 2 Cor 6:16; 1 Pet. 4:17.

The Bride of Christ

The good news is that the King of kings, Yahweh Almighty, intends to marry a bride. This bride of the Most High will bear His name and express her husband’s will and purpose on the earth. Not only that, but the bride God chooses will have all her debts assumed and paid, even as she becomes joint-owner of all God’s assets and blessings. You might say, “This is excellent news indeed, but only for that one person, the exceptionally fortunate gal upon whom God places His affection.”

But that’s the exciting part! This “bride of Christ” does not describe a single individual. Instead, this “bride” is the kingdom, the church—including all who choose to surrender their name, authority, identity, rights and autonomy into the new name and identity of their heavenly husband, Jesus Christ, as portrayed beautifully in Isaiah 62.

Paul showed that marriage between a man and woman only reflects the union between Christ and His church, His bride. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their own husbands in everything (Eph. 5:23, NASB). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25-27; Rom. 7:1-3). Our union with Christ is conditional on our separation, our divorce from the world and the reign of sin in our hearts. 

“The mind governed by the flesh,” Paul says, “is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Rom. 8:7 NIV). He also says, “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said: ‘I will dwell among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch what is unclean; and I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty’” (2 Cor. 6:16-18, AMP, NKJV).

John also says, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (John 2:15 NASB). And James says, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God. Therefore whoever chooses to be a friend of the world, renders himself, and enemy of God” (James 4:4, NASB, AMP, BSB). So all of these passages are telling us that we’ve got to divorce, we’ve got to separate from the world; we must come to repentance, and only then can we be espoused to the Lord Jesus as part of His bride. 

The Cross

When Jesus accepted the unjust death on the cross, satan made a terrible mistake. By committing that epic, unjust act, the devil slew the only life untainted by sin—the only life he had no right to touch. Thus, the sacrifice at Calvary undermined satan’s stranglehold; creating a place on earth that satan could no longer control. Christ’s sacrifice paid sin’s penalty and balanced, not God’s wrath, but His equitable justice, a justice spoken as a creation law before sin’s advent. 

When the bride of Christ marries the Lord Jesus, all her debts, liabilities, vulnerabilities and sins are assumed by her new husband. Likewise, all His righteousness, goodness and salvation become the just possession of His bride. Still, this exchange of assets and liabilities is based on actual oneness between bride and bridegroom. This oneness begins with the first step of authentic trust—faith. It is a process we must allow to proceed and continue. While we persist pressing into this relationship through faith, God credits all of His benefits to our account that have yet to be imparted. Still, if we abort the becoming process, we lose the imputation credit.

The following scriptures show how faith is a continual process and not merely a moment in time.

“After two days, He will revive us; on the third day, He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence. So let us know—let us press on to know the LORD. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the earth” (Hosea 6:2-3, BSB). This passage is depicting in cryptic language, the resurrection of Jesus after three days. But it’s tying it to a need on our part to pursue relationship when it says, “Let us press on to know—let us know the Lord,” and then He’s going to come to us.

The scripture also says, “He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence—if indeed you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved away from the hope of the gospel you heard…” (Col. 1:22-23, NIV, BSB). Here in Colossians, Paul is basically saying that the reconciliation accomplished by Christ is ours, if we continue in our faith. We cannot have faith as a moment in time that does all of imputation forever, into the future and the past; no, when we walk by faith in an abiding relationship of trust, then God is imputing everything we lack. But if we withdraw from the relationship, then we negate that imputation status. 

“But my righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him. But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Heb. 10:38-39, BSB, NIV).

“For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and severity of God: severity to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off” (Rom. 11:21-22, NIV, ESV). Again, he’s saying: God has shown you kindness to include you into salvation, but you’ve got to continue in this relationship or you too will be cut off. He repeats this theme in Corinthians when he says, “[By this] Gospel…you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (1 Cor. 15:1-2, NASB, AMP, NIV). So the saving word of the gospel is something we’ve got to continue to walk in, or else our belief is proven to be ineffective in saving our souls.

Marriage of Convenience 

Many seek to enter another country through a marriage of convenience. They are “legally” married and gain access through “legal” documents, though they may never love, live with, or even see their imaginary “spouse.” If we attempt such a legal contract with God, we deceive only ourselves. In other words, fraud perpetrated under correct labels and within legal constructs saves no one but only increases one’s judgment before God. 

How Do We Obey the Gospel

Paul and Peter both said that we must obey the gospel. Yet, how do we obey the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ? We obey the gospel when we die to the reign of former sin masters through repentance (Rom. 6:3-4). Finally, we obey the resurrection of Jesus when we have faith to receive the baptism of His Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11). I repeat: to obey the gospel, we must die in repentance, bury our old nature in a baptismal commitment and be filled with the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit. This is real, active obedience in the gospel, no merely mental assent or a legal formula that our carnal man would try to hide behind. We partake of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, not through legal formulas, but by becoming one with Him in a relationship of trust, a marriage covenant. 

Jesus repeatedly depicted people who were surprised at the end of their life by their lack of salvation. They were surprised because they thought they were saved—and they assumed that salvation—but they did not have the relationship with God that would have entailed salvation. Relationship, not legal formulas, is the basis for salvation. In these parables, Jesus would tragically say to them: I never knew you, you workers of iniquity; depart from Me (from: Matt. 7:23; Luke 13:24-28; Matt. 25:31-46).

Isaiah, Jeremiah, David and Ezekiel all depicted Christ’s New Covenant in terms of a new level of relationship with God. 

To become one with Jesus and His atoning sacrifice is to belong to Him, allowing His blood to redeem—purchase us—from the power of sin and all other allegiances (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 3:24; Col. 1:13-14). “He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works” (Titus 2:14, BSB, CSB). We must crucify our flesh—our slavish submission to sin’s reign—before we can belong to Christ. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with all its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24, NIV). Paul also shows that we are free to marry our new husband, Jesus, only once our old master (self) has died (1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 6:7; Rom. 7:1-6).

Union with Christ Conditional by Separation

The Calvary purchase frees us from the custody of sin and the law and transfers us to the custody of Christ through the Spirit. It does not free us on our recognizance; it takes away the lordship of sin and replaces it with the lordship of Christ. This is why Ephesians 4:8 tells us, “When He ascended…He led captive a host of captives.…” Our freedom from the law of sin and bondage is contingent on our submission to the law of the Spirit and its lordship (James 2:19), yet this belief does not describe saving faith—either for them or us. Saving faith is portrayed in Hebrews 11:

“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain… (Heb. 11: 4) Faith empowers us to do God’s will, for this same chapter says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11: 6). “By faith Noah…moved with godly fear [and] prepared an ark for the saving of his household…” (Heb. 11: 7). Faith isn’t what allowed people to disengage from faith, rather it is what empowered their obedience. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called…” (Heb. 11: 8) By faith Sarah…received strength…” (Heb. 11: 11). “By faith Moses refused [Egyptian identity] and forsook Egypt…” (Heb. 11: 24, 27).

Faith enabled them to do everything God was calling them to do.

We all comply with legal requirements, such as paying our taxes or keeping the speed limit. Why do we comply with these legal requirements: to avoid contact with the police! And those who wish to avoid interaction with God similarly adhere to minimal requirements, whether these minimal requirements are credal or behavioral. Whenever you adhere to minimal requirements at all, it’s legalism, but if you obey God out of a pure heart, that’s a relationship.  

Legalism shows you the least you have to do; love inspires you to the most you can do. 

Spirit-inspired obedience is one undeniable proof of our trusting, saving relationship with God. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matt 7:21, NASB). Being led by the Spirit to do the Father’s will flows from an active faith and devotion—a vital relationship with God. In short, you can’t please the Father without faith, and you can’t obey Him unless it comes from a heart of love. He’s not requiring the minimal demands of the law anymore: He’s requiring so much more. He’s requiring our hearts, our minds, our will, your whole self. That is called faith. 

Dishonest teachers suggest that obedient Christians are not walking by grace, but Paul says, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet it was not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10, NIV). Unscrupulous liars suggest that obedience flows only from fear, but the Lord Jesus said, “He who loves me, keeps my commandments,” showing that a vital relationship of trust produces godly obedience (John 14:21). And John poignantly tells us how we can be sure we have come to know God in that saving relationship of trust. “This is how we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4, NIV).

Jesus is not in the business of handing out legal “get out of jail free” cards. Instead, He invites us into a relationship of complete oneness with Himself. In short, He invites us to surrender and abandon everything that makes us distinct from Him—our own name and authority, the dictates of our fallen flesh, the fearful suspicion that makes us hide from His presence. So total is His invitation to unity that He offers to give us His own Spirit in regeneration, His saving name in water baptism, and His righteous character through ongoing sanctification. 

Justified by Ongoing Faith

As soon as we launch this relationship unto oneness based on faith, our salvation begins. As long as our faith remains active and progressive, He credits to our account everything lacking, justifying us completely (2 Peter 1:5; Col. 1:23;

It never ceases to amaze me how Christians can all sit around and lament the current state of the culture, family and church. Yet whenever someone suggests valid alternatives to how they’ve always done things, they rush to take refuge behind “orthodoxy” and “tradition”—in other words, continuing in the same path that arguably has been the very source of the systemic failure they decry. 

May I ask a favor? Can we attempt to maintain an open mind as we encounter unfamiliar ideas? Can we allow a profound concern for our culture’s current state to displace our religious defensiveness long enough to entertain alternatives that might conceivably make a beneficial difference? 

We have the distinction of inheriting a cultural era marked by more depression and suicide than has ever been witnessed in human history. Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, the number of marriages fractured by divorce surpassed those that held together. Now, most couples are, for the first time in our history, simply opting out of marriage altogether. The family, seen for millennia as the core unit of Judeo-Christian culture, is effectively dissolving under our noses. We must wake up! From the perspective of those driving these changes, this escalating crisis is no mistake. The architects of our present-day society envisioned the collapse of the Christian family as surely as Christ envisioned the birth of His church and kingdom 2,000 years ago.

The Five Stages of Family Destruction

Families have been destroyed in five stages: Undermining fatherhood, imposing compulsory education, removing discipline, introducing brain-altering media addiction, and sexual libertinism. 

Fatherhood stats:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes—5 times the average. (The National Center for Fathering) (U.S. Dept. odf Health/Census) 
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes—32 times the average.
  • 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes. (CDC)
  • 70% of youths in Sdtate-operated institutions come from fatherless homes—9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes—10 times the average.
  • 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes—20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes—9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)

Is there any question why the devil hates fatherhood?

Family Breakdown, Not Politics

While America is dizzy watching the political football hurl from one party to the next, the actual breakdown and collapse of our society is happening in living rooms, not the halls of Congress. The solution is found in the Word of God and a supportive Christian community, not another government (or church) program.

Education

Jean Jacques Rousseau, the father of modern education, stated:

“Those who control a people’s opinions control its actions, and such control is established by treating citizens from infancy as children of the State.”

John Dewey is touted by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as “arguably the most prominent American intellectual for the first half of the twentieth century.” He influenced and shaped modern U.S. public education more than any individual. 

“The teacher always is the prophet of the true God to usher in the true kingdom of God.”

Dewey went on:

“[Soviet schools in Russia are] the marvelous development of progressive educational ideas and practices under the fostering care of the Bolshevist government … the required collective and cooperative mentality. The great task of the school is to counteract and transform those domestic and neighborhood tendencies … the influence of home and Church.”  – John Dewey (1928).

Horace Mann similarly declared:

“What the Church has been for medieval man, the public school must become for democratic and rational man. God will be replaced by the concept of the public good.”

Other figures did not have same influence as academic leaders like Dewey, but nonetheless their ideas, in less explicit forms, would eventually pass into the mainstream of American educational thought. For example, in 1932 William Z. Foster, founder of the International Trade Union Educational League and American Communist Party leader, said:

“[We need] the implementation of a scientific materialist philosophy; studies, being cleansed of religious, patriotic and other features of the bourgeois ideology; students taught on the basis of Marxian dialectical materialism, internationalism and general ethics of a new socialist society; present obsolete methods of teaching will be superseded by a scientific pedagogy. The whole basis and organization of capitalist science will be revolutionized. Science will become materialistic, hence truly scientific. God will be banished from the laboratories as well as from the schools.

Among the elementary measures, the American government will adopt to further the cultural revolution are the following: the schools, colleges, and universities will be coordinated and grouped under a National Department of Education and its state and local branches.”

Just consider the extent to which such ideas have come to be reflected in public educational policy.

Early in the 20th century, influential socialist revolutionary, Antonio Gramsci, articulated his own vision for the progressive schooling system:

 “Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity … In the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches and the media by transforming the consciousness of society.”

In 1953, one of the leading philosophers and atheists of the 20th century, Bertrand Russell, said:

“Fichte laid it down that education should aim at destroying free will so that, after pupils have left school, they shall be incapable, throughout the rest of their lives, of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished. But in his day this was an unattainable ideal. What he regarded as the best system in existence produced Karl Marx. In the future, such failures are not likely to occur where there is dictatorship. Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.”

The New Hampshire supreme court helped set a precedent for compulsory education across the nation when in 1902 it ruled and declared:

“Free schooling … is not so much a right granted to pupils as a duty imposed upon them for the public good….While most people regard the public schools as the means of great advantage to the pupils, the fact is too often overlooked that they are governmental means of protecting the state from consequences of an ignorant and incompetent citizenship.” 

According to a recent study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, the number of students who frequently attend religious services drops by 23% after three years in college; 36% rated their spirituality lower after three years in college.

The College Student Survey asked students to indicate their current religious commitment. They compared the responses of freshmen who checked the “born again” category with the answers they gave four years later upon graduation: 59% no longer describe themselves as “born again”—a fallout rate of almost two-thirds!

We tend to see education as a general good to help us make our way in this life while acknowledging that it has developed some flawed tendencies, including an anti-Christian flavor that has only recently come into it. But I am trying to propose that the original architects of compulsory education envisioned this from the beginning. 

Recently, the Barna Group reported that only 20% of “highly churched” teen students remained spiritually active by age 29.

“Christianizing” Education versus Recognizing Two Kingdoms

There is endless talk about getting our schools back and restoring the values once taught among conservative circles. However, such talk misses the bigger question. Should a believer even attempt to Christianize an institution designed to destroy Christianity? This is a little like believing that Lucifer can be reformed with enough teaching! It fails to grasp the revolutionary truth, which Christ insisted upon, that there are two kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of the Son of God’s love. In their blind rush to reform what we will call “Babylon,” believers neglect the revolutionary steps of exodus that could save them from what Peter called “this perverse generation.”

“My Kingdom Is Not of This World.”

When Jesus stood before Pilate, He was challenged by that despot, “Are you the king of the Jews?” In His answer, Jesus poignantly replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” He is telling Pilate here that if His kingdom were of this world, His servants would be taking up weapons against Pilate, so opposed are the two kingdoms. 

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this, I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” In this spiritual war between the kingdom of Pilate and the kingdom of Christ, Pilate has swords and spears, and Jesus has a testimony. This is because the purpose of the kingdom of Christ is to be a witness. Here we see that Jesus is indeed at war with an opposing king and kingdom, but the weapons are not carnal but mighty in the Spirit.

Again, in His high priestly prayer, Jesus makes a statement that should prove most startling to modern-day believers: “I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours” (John 17:9).

He refuses to concern Himself with the “world“ and its fallen institutions. Instead, He calls His people to become an alternative, as He had told Pilate was His goal: to bring a “kingdom…not of this world” (John 18:36). But today, we can do nothing except stress and fret over the world because we conceive of no complete community or culture of Christ apart from the world. Meanwhile, the God-haters and State-worshipers have systematically infiltrated all the institutions of America, which once retained a residual flavor of Christianity. Now, they’ve had their way. Now, children are brainwashed and indoctrinated on matters of sexuality, morality, gender roles and so forth. This indoctrination process is so ubiquitous that to millions wholly absorbed into the predominant culture, it is invisible; it has become the proverbial air we breathe.   

A Second-Century Christian’s Perspective on Politics

If we rewind to 150 years after Christ, we get a glimpse into the way early Christians viewed their political involvement in the following quote:

“I owe no duty to the forum, campaign, or senate. I stay awake for no public function. I make no effort to occupy a platform; I am no office-seeker; I have no desire to smell out political corruption; I shun the voters’ booth and the juryman’s bench; I break no laws and push no lawsuits; I will not serve as a magistrate or judge; I refuse to do military service; I desire to rule over no one. I have withdrawn from worldly politics. Now my only politics is spiritual, how that I might do nothing except root out all worldly anxieties and cares.”—Tertullian (155 – c. 240 AD)

It is provocative to think that a Christian, less than 200 years after Christ, viewed his participation in world politics in a similar way as did the believers in the New Testament.  

A 21st-Century Alternative

Nearly 50 years ago, my parents started a Christian mission in the worst slums of Manhattan, New York. They were stewards of the grace of God, assisting new believers in restoring their families, breaking addictions and all the horrid vices of that broken culture. There, in the slums, living in tenement buildings and renting decrepit public places for fellowship and worship, they started a community. They learned to love and assist one another in spiritual and practical matters alike. 

Yet, in time, they came to see that the fruits they sought to foster in the lives of these new believers were at odds with the larger culture surrounding them. That defunct culture’s education, vocations, entertainment and overall matrix represented a hostile environment. (My father would often quote: “You can’t grow bananas in Alaska, nor raise polar bears in Ecuador,” implying that culture creates an environment that either supports or impedes particular forms of life.) Their profound commitment to the new fledgling believers prompted them to do something unheard of. Their whole fellowship left Manhattan and moved across the river to New Jersey. But that wasn’t the end. In time, 130 of them pulled up roots and traveled 1,800 miles to start an agrarian community in Colorado.

They knew they would lose their children through the gradual process of attrition if they stayed in that hostile culture. I was home-schooled because of their decisions, as all the children in this community have been for nearly 50 years. We’re called an “intentional community” because we didn’t come together by happenstance but by deliberate design. 

We changed our attitude toward college and intentionally sought to build businesses where brothers of like-minded faith could support and help each other. We exited the public education system entirely and schooled in home and community settings exclusively. None of us have ever been raised with television in the house, nor internet. And before some of you roll your eyes and begin to laugh, let me tell you some of the other things that none of us experience. We’ve never had a single student traumatized or depressed because of peer bullying. We’ve never had a divorce among those families that remained in the community. We’ve never had an individual or family on welfare. We’ve never had an elderly member in a nursing home. We’ve never had children confused about their sexual identity.   

God’s Fatherhood versus Loving the World

Before you protest and assume that all of this is too good to be true, imagine—allow your heart to wonder—what Christ had in mind for His church for this day. Try to comprehend the call to the end-time church, now tangled and indistinguishable from the world. I’m talking about the call that says, “Come out of her, My people.” John says, “Whoever loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  And through Paul, the Lord tells us, “Be separate, and I’ll be your Father.“ James drives the point in even further when he says, “Whoever seeks to be a friend of the world makes himself the enemy of God.” 

Throughout these New Testament books, the message of God’s fatherhood is always interconnected with a message of separation from the world. Yet those who cannot arrest their affections from worldly entanglement cannot conceive of the beautiful community Christ envisioned His church to be. They cannot imagine Johnny not participating on the soccer team. They blush to contemplate telling their relatives that Johnny and Jane aren’t attending university after all. They are on the treadmill of mimetic rivalry, and the collateral damage is measured in their children’s grief, brokenness and loss. 

But the story of our faith began with a man peering from his city dwelling into the night sky, trying to hear the voice of God. Abraham launched a revolution of hope wherein “all the families of the earth would be blessed” when he left that city and trekked out toward the country. 

Think about it. When God set out to bless all the families of the earth, He didn’t go on national television nor open a university. He didn’t start a crusade nor institute a church program. He called one man out of a city and made him a herdsman. And He taught that man how to become a dad, and his wife how to be a mom. Through countless failures, misunderstandings, false steps and starts, Abraham persevered with God. Nothing is so revolutionary or capable of overcoming cultures of death and despair as God’s vision of what a family and community should be. If you want to change the world and bless the masses, learn to be a dad, a mom, a son or a daughter.  

Protection against Totalitarianism

Covenant Christian communities represent our best chance of withstanding modernity’s bore tide and repelling the onslaught of totalitarianism.  Historically, families and communities as voluntary and private units of devotion have offered a powerful resistance to any would-be totalitarian State. 

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World portrayed this when he showed that the State would have to break down all alternative allegiances and personal ties and claim all allegiance for itself. But family and community relationships bound within a transcendently given covenant inspire strong and deep commitments that constantly challenge any Hitlerian or Stalinist devotion to the State alone.

Historical Alternatives: Melania the Younger

When Rome’s collapse shook and nearly toppled Western society, the church clung to life in small monastic faith communities in remote regions throughout Europe and the Near East.  

Many Christians in the early 400’s, such as Melania the Younger, anticipated the coming storm. Melania—one of Rome’s wealthiest heiresses—sold her numerous estates and donated the cash to finance the construction of monastic and family communities around Europe and North Africa.

Initially, her radical move to sell vast landholdings in Western Europe and give away the proceeds sparked outrage among her contemporaries. Yet, five years later, when the Visigoths invaded Rome and “the city that had taken the whole world was itself taken,” her contemporaries suffered the same divestment but without the ability to reapply their wealth in community-building sanctuaries elsewhere. Historians tell us that apart from these communities funded by those like Melania, the knowledge and sacred texts of Christianity, and whatever was beneficial in the ancient culture, would have been utterly lost at the time of the collapse of Rome.

Altruism, Un-Modern Morality, Authoritative Communities 

In more recent times, when modern Nazi totalitarianism threatened to strangle all Europe, historians show us that remarkable resistance was mounted, not so much from other empires, but in close-knit communities.

Researchers and anthropologists Samuel and Pearl Oliner of the University of California, Berkeley, set about to learn what conditions nurtured the unlikely successful pockets of resistance against the Nazi genocide throughout Europe. Samuel Oliner was only 10 when the Nazis murdered his entire family in Poland. Thanks to the help of a Polish Christian woman, he found a place to hide through the war—and survived. He felt that he had to find out: in a time of extreme danger, what led this woman, and a few thousand like her, to risk her own life and the lives of her family to help those who were marked for death—even total strangers—while others stood passively by? 

Hitler’s Nazi machine efficiently deployed his “Final Solution,” exterminating nine million souls, including six million Jewish men, women and children. Still, thousands of targeted victims were safeguarded by people who embraced danger to save others throughout Europe. The Oliners sought to reveal what enabled this virtuous salvation. 

Nazi success was based on the unquestioned authority of the State. Many Nazi war criminals later pleaded they were simply “following orders.” The Holocaust was the product of Statist authoritarianism. The irony of the Oliner study shows that the answer to tyranny is another type of authority. 

Those who can’t bifurcate two kinds of authority—compulsory and voluntary authority—see authority as the problem. But in this study, the Oliners were able to distinguish between the two types of authority and discover that the only effective obstruction to authoritarianism is voluntary authority. It provides a moral compass by which those people who resist tyranny direct their lives.

Bifurcating Two Kinds of Authority 

The undiscriminating fail to distinguish between kinds of authority—compulsory or voluntary. The unscrupulous would attempt to brand all authority as equally suspect because of the despotic regimes of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, present-day Iran or North Korea. However, the Oliners’ research demonstrated that the only protection against compulsory authoritarianism is another kind of authority—noncoercive, familial authority based on faith, care, love. 

They found that three things marked those who withstood Nazi demands and risked their lives to save targeted Jews from the gas chambers:

1: They had an unsophisticated sense of right and wrong that modern culture had not yet relativized. 

2: They belonged to religious communities where the obligation and agency to act had not been outsourced to the State or its “experts.” 

3: They lived accountable to an authority transcendent to the State’s authority—God. 

Conversely, the atomization of such communities fosters an attitude that cares only for oneself and contributes to a condition of paralyzing moral ambiguity. Examples of this abound in our culture today, as they did in Nazi Germany and Europe in the 1930’s. 

In the Netherlands, 5% of the population openly supported or collaborated with the Nazi regime; 5% were part of the resistance movement. The other 90% simply did nothing.

Milgram Experiment

Similarly, the Milgram Experiment found that the hierarchy of science and professionalism can effectively displace God-given values and ethics that would otherwise govern behavior. The difference is: statist apparatchiks can more easily manipulate the priesthood of science and professionalism than the timeless values enshrined in scripture and western society. Once ultimate transcendent authority shifts from God to science, culture is immediately subject to the whims of whatever power intern manipulates science.

The Milgram Study took American students from prestigious universities and placed them in a fabricated setting wherein they believed they were participating with other “volunteers,” not knowing that they were the actual subjects of the study. In contrast, the “volunteers” were merely actors. The goal was to determine how willingly the American students would agree with the authority of “the experts in the scientific community”— specifically, in violation of their personally held moral ethics.

In the study, the students were placed behind a glass partition with controls to an electronic device that would seem to shock their fellow participants upon the orders of the overseeing scientist. The students were assured that everything would be safe. Although the recipients of the shocks might seem displeased or even appear to be hurt, they were to continue with the experiment, trusting the guidance of the “experts” directing the experiment. White-coated doctors repeatedly instructed the students to shock their colleagues with ever-increasing voltage even though the recipients displayed discomfort and pain. The students continued to administer the shocks at dangerous levels even while the recipients pleaded with them to stop. On many occasions, the experiment only ended when the recipient appeared to have passed out from the intensity of the procedure.

Indirect value propaganda from media and schooling conditioned the students to believe they could trust scientific professionals unquestioningly, even to the point of violating their own ethics and harming or killing others. This widely-publicized Milgram study suggested that American students were no more likely to withstand science-backed totalitarian genocide than were their German counterparts under the Nazi regime.

Le Chambon

Similarly, Jewish historians have identified a small Christian community in the hill country of France as the “rainbow of hope” amidst Europe’s dark clouds, thunder and Holocaust horror. Descended from the persecuted Huguenots, this group welcomed all Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. At one point, they had more than 5,000 Jewish people, primarily children, staying with them. This community lived by three seemingly paradoxical absolutes: 

1: They would risk their lives to save the Jews from the Nazis; 

2: They would not use violence against anyone;

3: They would not resort to lying or deception of any kind. 

Through networks tying Le Chambon with other Christians, Jewish children began arriving on the train that came to this small Christian community. The nonviolent believers welcomed them, feeding, clothing and sheltering these needy refugees. Sometimes, the community would spirit the Nazi-hunted souls across the border to neighboring safety. Other times, they would harbor them permanently in their village. When the Gestapo came to investigate their town for the first time, the young people of the community felt compelled to present them with the following message: 

“We feel obliged to tell you that there are among us a certain number of Jews. But, we make no distinction between Jews and non-Jews. It is contrary to Gospel teaching. If [those Jews among us]… received the order to let themselves be deported, or even examined, they would disobey the order received, and we would try to hide them as best we could.”  – Le Chambon Youth

No one knows the conversations behind closed doors in Gestapo headquarters. For no explicable reason, the nonviolent community of Le Chambon was never raided. Jewish historians later called it “the safest place in all of Europe for Jews.”  Some have wondered if the God who parted the Red Sea, shut the mouth of lions and saved three Hebrews from a fiery furnace might have supernaturally intervened to protect this community and its 5,000 Jewish refugees because of their uncompromising faith and obedience. The descendants of those initial 5,000 spared from the Gestapo by a nonviolent, close-knit community now number in the hundreds of thousands.

If my proposal today sounds counterintuitive, this seminar is a success. Show me one great miracle from Scripture that did not defy expectations, especially the human conventions of power and relativistic change. 

Paradoxical Freedom

Just as we have confused two kinds of authority with nothing in common, we have also confused two kinds of freedom. Biblical Christianity proposes to be both a liberty and a constraint. It is liberty for love, righteousness, peace and joy. Yet, it unapologetically offers to constrain mankind’s baser nature—selfishness, envy, cruelty and hatred. If we do not bifurcate these two kinds of freedom—liberty versus libertinism—we will be deceived and eventually enslaved, all in the name of freedom. 

Many Americans are the hapless victims of an insidious seduction that’s enslaving them in the name of freedom. 

Let me explain. The apostle Paul says something puzzling and paradoxical. He describes the appearance of the antichrist (the ultimate totalitarian) as a time when internal restraint will be removed. 

External freedom belongs to those who are internally restrained. Conversely, if you unbridle the baser tendencies in human nature, granting freedom to sin and selfishness, external liberties will prove untenable and dissolve.  

“Wholly Inadequate”

Constitutional framer and second president, John Adams, once declared: 

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 

Think about it. They said they designed a limited government with great freedoms because they were working with a population internally restrained by conscience, community values and faith. These represent God‘s invisible restraining hand. But Paul tells us the antichrist—the ultimate totalitarian—will only appear when “He who hinders is taken out of the way“ and “lawlessness is revealed.” Paul shows that abolishing the noncoercive, voluntary authority of family, church and faith is to make room for its counterpart—coercive, Statist, total tyranny. Still, this latter sinister authoritarianism advances under the banner of “liberty” and “freedom” from restraint. 

Liberty Conjoined with Responsibility

True liberty is a responsibility, always correlating to internal restraint. We see this in our daily lives. Freedom is given in proportion to a person’s internal restraint. When do I trust my son to handle a firearm safely? When he has proven his attentiveness, awareness, responsibility and restraint. To give a young child the power entailed in the liberty of functioning a firearm is not generous; it’s dangerous, perhaps suicidal. Similarly, God grants us freedom in proportion to our responsibility—our internal restraint. 

Jesus was a man who lived by perfect internal restraint. He said, “The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). Because of Christ’s complete trust in God, resulting in total submission, He was given unlimited power, power the Father trusted He would not use selfishly. Because of His submission, He was able to say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me!”

Liberty—Positive/Negative

Many conceive of liberty only in negative terms—freedom from someone or something. In regard to State power, this is indeed the only genuine type of freedom civil government should seek to protect. But in regard to our private lives, families and voluntary communities, can we not entertain freedom as something positive that we exercise and participate in? The ultimate freedoms are those that provide life. In our community, we have taken responsibility for our children’s education and tasted the freedom of being God’s co-workers, nurturing their hearts and minds for the kingdom. We have tasted freedom by assuming responsibility for providing our own food. We have experienced life in its rawest form as freedom when we took responsibility for birthing our children at home. Whenever the State with its coercive power seeks to take on such responsibilities, it actually strips away true freedom together with individual responsibility.

Many of life’s purest delights are simply the freedoms of assuming responsibility for ourselves, rejecting the State’s endless largesse. Did Jesus not warn against this when He said of the Gentiles, “They lord it over you, calling themselves your benefactors,” thereby suggesting that one can be enslaved through State “magnanimity”?

Destroy the Moral Side of the Liberty Equation, and the Civil End Will Spontaneously Collapse

If you were the enemy of liberty, and you believed the words of John Adams that the Constitution was “wholly inadequate“ for any but a moral, religious people, then you would not focus first, for the most part, on removing Bill-of-Rights liberties, but instead you would concentrate your efforts on dismantling internal restraint, loosening morals, freeing the baser nature from the invisible restraining hand of God. But you would do it all in the name of increasing freedom so that clueless Christians would get on board with relinquishing the boundaries that safeguard true liberty. In time, American culture would no longer justly be called “moral and religious.” Then the civil liberties designed for the moral, religious people would seem absurd. In short, they will prove “wholly inadequate.” Conservatives will then be up in arms at the erosion of constitutional liberties, blind to the wrecking balls that were demolishing Biblical values in living rooms, around dinner tables, in churches, in schoolhouses, and only as an afterthought in the halls of Congress.  

“Make the Church More Defensible”

Our church’s leading educator, Jim Truax, was formerly a public school superintendent, as well as being an educational expert and PhD. Before becoming a part of our community, Jim sat down with his acquaintance, famed constitutional attorney David Gibbs. Jim was so troubled by the State’s overreach in education that he was inclined to become an attorney to fight for Christian education in the courts. He asked this constitutional expert for counsel. Mr. Gibbs fixed Jim with troubled eyes and replied, 

“Jim, we don’t need more defenders of Christian education; we need to make Christian education more defensible.” 

This conservative constitutionalist correctly identified the erosion of responsibility, ethics, morality and truth within the church, ultimately making her ministries and liberties “indefensible.”

Understand Our Choice for Restraint

People look at us (especially Christians), and they’re struck, sometimes even troubled, by what they perceive as too much restraint in our community. But if you were to rewind to the era when constitutional liberties were not so threatened, our community would be almost indistinguishable from the people of that time. 

We witness the systematic unraveling of Christian culture expressed primarily in relationships. The American family has been completely reconfigured in the name of freedom, and the church has been mostly silent. In the name of freedom, Biblical morality has been demolished, sexuality has been revolutionized, and the church has only stayed one or two steps behind in its compliance. In the name of freedom, fashion has jettisoned the values of modesty and gender-specific apparel, and while the church initially resisted, it now entirely complies.  We call it freedom when we give young people devices that connect them directly to pornography and deception, even though their moral compass is not yet set and their sense of values is still malleable. In the name of freedom, cosmic tyrants have eviscerated Christian culture, creating a population with no moral compass, no ethical absolutes, no fidelity in relationships, or community commitment amongst themselves. The bulwarks of Christianity have been torn down, and tyrants perceive no great hindrance to their advance. 

For a century, the architects of tyranny have systematically removed the restraining hand of conscience and conviction from society, knowing that apart from these, the liberties enshrined in the Constitution would inevitably collapse. 

Negligence & Responsibility

As you listen to me now and hear the contrast I draw between politics and God‘s eternal purpose, questions may arise in your mind: 

  • Hasn’t America been a place where Christians could be free? 
  • As Christians, don’t we have a responsibility to influence the political process? 
  • Isn’t it gross negligence to disengage from a political system when Christians represent the only force holding back the bore tide of secularism?

When Israel first asked for a king, they requested someone to fight their battles for them. Today’s Americans do the same when they relinquish their God-given responsibilities to the State, insisting that the State feed the poor, clothe the naked, educate their children and otherwise fulfill the obligations Christ would have them assume. “Yahweh said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me”’ (1 Sam. 8:7).

Yet even those believers who recognize that the State should not intrude into these matters and who focus their efforts on political causes in defense of liberty are engaged in battles that divert them from strengthening the foundations upon which liberty can truly stand. Yahweh does not reign from a White House. The Most High does not pass down edicts. Yet His is the safest of authorities because it comes from the heart, and if we choose not to obey, it will not force us. But He wants to build a kingdom where He can incarnate His healing message in a witness kingdom here on the earth. 

Satirical “Prayer” of the Babylonian Christian

(The mind-set of those remaining in Ur or Egypt when Abraham or Moses make their exodus.)

 “Oh God, we just know You want to do great things here in Ur of Mesopotamia. We just trust You to restore our culture and heal our land and to give us a wise king who only requires women to serve for one year as a temple prostitute instead of two.

“Heavenly Father, we know that the school system here in Ur is just really tough on the children, but we just trust You as we put our dear kids in the lap of Molech, that they would burn as torches for Christ. And, dear Lord, we know that we’re sending Jack and Jill to the university there in Babylon, and we know they’re just going to see all kinds of bad things, even get drunk on the wine of fornication from time to time. But we just trust You to help them be lights in this dark world and just remain salt completely devoid of savor.

“And finally, Lord, we just ask for Your help in resisting the temptations of the enemy that would entice us to disengage the struggle by separating from this culture and going out to this horrible place in the country called ‘Canaan.’

“We just trust You to help us resist this pull and sadness we feel while gazing at the stars or listening to those tales that whisper of worlds and promises lost to us. We just know that worldliness with contentment is great gain, and we ask You to help us to have tranquil hearts here in Ur and just quiet our souls with words of comfort like ‘peace, peace’—for You did not come to bring division or a sword but only placid peace. 

“And Lord, because we know how trying it is in these times, we just pray that You would raise up great leaders such as Your mighty prophet Baalam and other strong women like Jezebel and those gifted with encouragement and comfort like Delilah—that in all things Your people might feel boosted to become great and prosperous along with dear Babylon, which You love so much. 

“And lastly, dear Lord, just set us free from the deception of dangerous cults led by men like Abraham and Moses who would draw Your people astray into perilous trials through oceans and wilderness. We are mindful of this terrible report from dear Brothers Korah, Dathan, and Abiram—such wise, trusted leaders among their people—and we just grieve for all caught on that trip to nowhere, misled by false prophets. They believe oceans will part and walled cities will crumble at their prayers. They chase notions of God’s ‘alternative,’ a ‘promised land’ where He is king. We just trust You to save them from this cult and return them to their contentment here in Babylon.

“We thank You for the freedom we find in grace, loosing us from all righteousness, obligations to bear fruit or need to hear Your Spirit. Thank You for Jesus, who obeyed for us so that we can continue in our sin and feel righteous about it.

“So just help us call to mind that country You asked us to forsake. We surrender to You all desire for a heavenly country, except as an amorphous concept with no concrete expression or bearing on our lives.

“Amen and amen.”

Unconventional Revolutionaries

“The effort to heal the manifest ailments of mankind by intellectual processes or by international conferences and political and social mass movements is superficial and short-lived. The disease is moral and spiritual and can be reached only by moral and spiritual regeneration, beginning with individuals.”

“Revolution” means to turn completely. Whether for good or ill, a revolution occurs when people become weary of looking and reaching for answers in one direction in which they see no results. Some catalyst occurs that prompts them to turn 180 degrees and consider unconventional alternatives to tired, worn-out trajectories. 

When has God ever wrought great redemption or salvation through conventional methods? Who would have imagined God would have saved the world from famine through a slave named Joseph? Who would have guessed that God would conquer the mighty Egyptian empire through a conversation of repeated demands accompanied by supernatural signs—from a stutterer who was also the meekest man on earth? 

And consider Jesus: You cannot deny the history-altering impact of His life on all succeeding generations. Yet His is a story of a life lived in a conquered nation. He never sought political office, never darkened the doorway of palaces or academies. He wrote no books, led no armies, nor ever touched a sword. He was clean from all the conventions of worldly power, yet with a message of love, humility and service, He reshaped the entire course of human history. He is history’s fulcrum, compass and lodestar, or as some might say, “the bright and morning star.”

The Wesley Brothers: “The Men Who Saved England”

Throughout history, Jesus has used unconventional ways to move through His people.  When revolution erupted in eighteenth-century Europe, England was the most corrupt of all her nations. Gin was introduced to England in 1684; within 50 years, the nation consumed half a million gallons a year. Historians tell us that every sixth house in London sold spirits. Women with small children drank as heavily as men. It was not uncommon for laborers to prostitute their wives at the weekly auction to gain more gin money. Gambling was considered the “national disease,” public executions comprised free entertainment for the masses, and gangs of young men roamed the streets, robbing and torturing passersby, compelling all citizens to “travel, even at noon, as if … going to battle.” At this same time, seeds of violence grew in the rotting culture of France. 

But a few decades before the French Revolution erupted, a godly English mother, Susanna Wesley, shunned the school system and made the decision to teach her children according to her convictions at home. There the word of truth was burned into the young minds of ten children growing up poor, sometimes hungry, but always guided by their mother’s understanding of her sacred responsibility. 

Beginning in 1739, Susanna’s sons John and Charles Wesley preached repentance and holiness across England and helped new believers to form small groups of mutual accountability. They were banned from State churches, so they resorted to preaching in the open air, where tens of thousands of English people heard their message and turned their hearts to God. In the early days of their ministry, the Wesleys were often stoned and beaten by the crowds they came to minister to. But before long, thousands had been converted and had left the gin houses for the study of the Bible and the literature that John Wesley published to help new believers in their new lives. In fact, so many began to study this literature that it was said Wesley had created a “completely new class of reader” in England. 

In 1789, guillotines were raised in France as bloody terror toppled the monarchy and the church’s authority. Pent-up bitterness and wrath made murder machines out of the masses, who viciously slew more than 60,000 people in France. The new and novel “scientific” guillotine became regular entertainment for the increasingly vicious Parisians. The knitting needles of old women clicked through endless beheadings of those they had been taught to loathe, kings and commoners alike. 

Revolution erupted across France and spread to Germany, Poland, Austria and Italy. But England was spared this violent chaos. A spiritual immune system had been built in that country through the humble words of a penniless preacher. John Wesley became known as “the man who saved England.” When he died in 1791, approximately 77,000 people were members of his “societies” in England and 57,000 in America. The revival that God brought through John and Charles Wesley is said to have “had the effect of a revolution.”

The Oxford Group

Another example of unconventional change began in 1921 when Frank Buchman, an American Lutheran, began to hold prayer meetings with young people. They described themselves as “a group of people from all walks of life who have surrendered their life to God.” They purposed to live by what they called “the four absolutes”: absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, absolute purity and absolute love. They believed that no lasting change would ever come until people embraced these absolutes “absolutely.” These young people later became known as the “Oxford Group.”

As the group grew, they sent out teams to hold meetings in homes, hotels, schools, universities and outdoor camps around the world. Many lives were impacted and changed by their message. 

In 1934, a team of 30 Oxford Group members visited Norway. A newspaper commented at the time, “A handful of foreigners who neither knew our language nor understood our ways and customs came to the country. A few days later the whole country was talking about God, and two months after the thirty foreigners arrived, the mental outlook of the whole country has definitely changed.” After World War II, a Norwegian bishop publicly declared that the Norwegian resistance to Nazism was “laid by the Oxford Group’s work.” The Oxford Group also visited Denmark, where the message of the four absolutes encouraged the Danes to save almost their entire Jewish population. A Gestapo document from 1942 states, “No other Christian movement has underlined so strongly the character of Christianity as being supernatural and independent of all racial barriers.” 

Conclusion

Politics may promise to change people’s economic status, improve their health, secure their physical safety, but only God can transform the human heart. And if we would believe Jesus, He said from within a man comes every kind of evil. Change the man, restore internal restraint, and transform the nation. 

You see, America’s “strong men“ are weak in the Spirit. Like Peter before the resurrection and Pentecost, they’re full of bold commitments and declarations of their faithfulness. Yet, when it comes to prayer, they fall asleep. When it comes to recognizing and learning to follow the gentle voice of the unseen Spirit of God, their ears hear only the cacophony of this world and its entertainment. Jesus knew Peter would deny Him because He knew that the kind of fight He was waging was through the Spirit and not the flesh. If Christ would’ve conquered with the weapons of carnal warfare, Peter would have fought to the bloody end.

God employs counterintuitive weapons: families, men and women of moral courage, communities bound by common faith. We don’t know what is coming beyond the horizon, though we can sense that “the times, they are a-changing,” and not necessarily for the good. 

Let us hear the call of freedom, the call to assume responsibility—the responsibility that we have subconsciously ceded to the State and its institutions. Hear the call of freedom to come out of dependence on anonymous sources we cannot know or trust and come together to form bastions of life and hope for troubled times. Hear and answer the call to become a City on a Hill, whose light cannot be hidden.