All Things Held Together in Two Books

A college physics course experiment was an eye-opener. The purpose of the experiment was to measure the earth’s gravitational acceleration from an object in free fall. (See PDF below for an example). But that day in the physics lab the experiment took on greater significance. I found out that God has two books – scripture and science – and the books go hand in hand.

As I see it, scripture provides the origin and context for all understanding. From the ancient cosmology starting point In the beginning God created the heavens and earth to John the Elder introducing us to the incarnation of that cosmology – Jesus, the way, the truth and life.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1–3) 

Science can explain the material world, the mechanisms of creation and the forces (gravity, tension, spring, etc.) at work on earth in sublime mathematical terms. In fact, four fundamental forces make it possible for humans (and scripture) to exist in the habitable zone called earth.

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I grew up in a Sola Scriptura universe. I attended Baptist and Bible churches for the first half of my life. I attended Moody Bible Institute after high school. These institutions posited the trinity of scripture, right living, and evangelism. These mattered most in that constrained cosmology. The material world seemed immaterial to those who preached and taught, except for tithing and the payment of room and board.

In that context, gospel songs seemed to promote a disdain for the physical world:

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

This world is not my home? Hmmm. Why did God create the material heavens and earth? And why did God bother giving material creation order and function to fashion a temple where He could dwell with man, as described in Genesis 1 and 2? Why bother setting up a temple garden? Are we meant to look down on creation from some heavenly perch?

During those times of sermons and studies, I heard nothing about the material nature of things or of science. By its avoidance it implied, for me at least, that the material world was linked with “the natural man” and the world, the flesh, and the devil. As such, the material world needed to be done away with the parts of me that were sinful (Col. 3:5). There was also the highly popular but errant end-time teaching and best-selling books describing a rapture that would whisk believers away from corrupted earth.

But that day in the lab as I calculated the acceleration due to gravity, I understood that a force acted to keep me on the earth. I also realized that I had come across a companion book to scripture. Scripture says Jesus holds all things together (Col. 1:17). Science says that gravity is the force the holds everything in the universe together. That day I realized that the Lord was increasing the magnitude of my cosmology with a down-to-earth experiment.

Science offered me new insight into God the Creator. Matter matters to God. Holding things together matters to God. Jesus offering his body and blood as true food and drink in the material elements of bread and wine took on new meaning.

Why study the mechanical nature of things? Why study science? For several reasons: Everything in the natural world is a sign, a trace, an echo, an image and a sacrament of the triune God. The goodness of God is diffused into His good creation. As such, everything in creation has been given a profound relationality with a space to be and a sense of particularity so that it is encountered and not just used.

Why study the science of things? Because God made them to be studied. God made the unpredictability of quantum physics for us to puzzle over, to reflect on and then to uncover its mysteries, e.g., light as both particle and wave. The contemplative exercise is necessary for science. And, it what’s required for our theology of the mysterious three-in-one Trinity.

Why study the science of things? Because nothing is stamped on the bottom, “made by God.” That’s for us to find out. We were created to look into mysteries and to be scientists.

Of course, there are people who are terrified of looking at information that doesn’t align with what they have been told for so many years. When I told my mother that I accepted the thinking that the universe came into existence with the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago and the theory of evolutionary creationism, she told me “That’s heresy! I have no doubt that she prayed for my soul after that call. Mom is now with the Lord. Her concerns have been allayed.

I have read and been wowed by many science texts including books about genomics, quantum physics, astrophysics, and the periodic table. I’ve learned that God creates in particular and yet everything created is related. Electrons are relational to protons and neutrons. The periodic table reveals that relationality.

As I recorded data that remarkable day in the physics lab, I said “This is soooooo cool!” I felt an incredible sense of awe and wonder. I had found the relationality of scripture and science.

And he is ahead, prior to all else,

And in him all things hold together

The Letter of Paul to the Colossians 1: 17

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An approaching moving day and what it involves prompted this post. As with every previous move, I need to sort through things to see what stays behind and what goes forward. The same process of sorting out of what makes sense to keep applies to one’s reasoning and faith, to one’s understanding of science and scripture, and to achieving maturity.

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Denis Alexander

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Links:

The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion (cam.ac.uk)

BioLogos – God’s Word. God’s World. – BioLogos

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Episode_1839 – The Revolt Of America’s Moms A Mother’s Day Special”. Released: 2022.

Episode_1840 The Revolt Of America’s Moms A Mother’s Day Special Cont.”. Released: 2022.

“Come to Me”

in the Christ shall all be made alive -1 Cor. 15: 22

Many years ago, an interim pastor at the church I was attending asked me to go with him to Pacific Garden Mission in downtown Chicago. This pastor was involved PGM’s Unshackled radio broadcasts. On this occasion, he and I ministered to those who came in off the street. I played a couple hymns on my trumpet. He gave a simple gospel message. Those attending received a hot meal after our brief service.

During my student days at Moody Bible Institute, I visited other Chicago rescue missions. I would play my trumpet and, with others in our group, give a brief witness to my faith in the Lord. Telling the forlorn and broken sitting before me that I was raised in a Christian home and received Jesus as my savior at eleven years old – I was coming from a place nowhere near where these folks had been.

But the gospel has a way of speaking into memories and of stirring folks to reflect on their life. Some wept upon hearing childhood accounts of home. From recollections, whether good or bad, the gospel points people in the direction of rescue from a life gone prodigal.

On each occasion, as I walked into the meeting room of the rescue mission, I encountered the smell of alcohol, urine and of unwashed bodies and clothes. My eyes met with a scene of loss – each figure a shell of their former self.

The homeless – alcoholics, the drug dependent, the bankrupt, the mentally ill, the despairing, the dis-owned by family and friends – sat scattered among the rows of chairs. Some folks were asleep sitting up. Some were laying across chairs asleep. Some were mumbling things unintelligible. And some sat up looking despondently at the floor. The body language: “I’m adrift, aching and alone.” The sign out front: “JESUS SAVES”.

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Are you having a real struggle? Come to me! Are you carrying a big load on your back? Come to me! – I’ll give you a rest! Jesus invites his listeners to put on his yoke and take lessons in humility from him. Arrogance is a heavy burden to carry and to defend (Matt 11: 28-30).

It’s the sick people who need the doctor, not the healthy ones. I came to call the bad people, not the good ones. Jesus responds to the grumbling legal experts when they see him eating with tax-collectors and sinners (Mk. 2: 17).

You see, the son of man came to seek and to save the lost. Jesus responds to the grumbling observers of the faith-based salvation of chief tax-collector Zacchaeus (Lk. 19: 1-10).

After all, God didn’t send the son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world could be saved by him. Jesus is reconfiguring the Pharisee Nicodemus’ notion of salvation (Jn. 3: 17). Jesus says that he will be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. This, Jesus explains, is how much God loved the world. And so, everyone who believes in him should not be lost but may share in the life of God’s new age.

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The Gospel According to Mark chapter 4 records the rescue of a small fleet of fishing boats crossing the sea. A big windstorm came up and began filling the boats with water. Life and livelihood were in jeopardy. The fishermen were freaking out. Jesus, however, was sleeping soundly on a cushion in the stern in one of the boats. They woke him up.

Jesus got up, silenced the wind, and told the raucous sea “Shut Up!”. Things calmed down at once. The rescued, whose alarm at the tempest shifted to awe-struck terror of the rescuer, said to each other “Who is this? Even the wind and the sea do what he says!” Their crossing continued over to the land of the Gerasenes without further incident.

 Chapter 5 of Mark’s gospel account records three rescues. The narrative begins with Jesus and the small fleet of fishing boats arriving on the shore of the land of the Garasenes. They are suddenly confronted by a man with an unclean spirit. He emerged from a graveyard which is where he lived.

The man is wild. No one can physically restrain him, not even with shackles and chains. But the wild man’s attention is captured. He runs up to Jesus and falls down before him.

Jesus questions the man and hears that that man is possessed by a hoard of demons calling themselves “Legion”. The demons, knowing that Jesus will deal with them, want to be rescued in their own way. They beg Jesus to not send them out of the country. They want to be sent into a nearby herd of pigs. Jesus lets it happen and the pigs rush down into the sea and drown.

The herdsmen’s reaction, not unlike the fishermen’s reaction earlier, was of utter terror. They began telling everyone about what had happened. People came to Jesus. They saw the man who had once terrorized the countryside. He was seated, clothed and in his right mind. When eyewitnesses told the crowd what had happened to the man and to the pigs, the people were afraid. They begged Jesus to leave their district. The man who had been rescued, however, asked to go with Jesus. Jesus wouldn’t let him.

Go back home. Go to your people and tell them what the Lord has done for you. Tell them how he had pity on you.

The rescued man goes out and tells what Jesus had done for him. Everyone is astonished.

The next two rescue accounts in Mark’s gospel account involves two people of different social and economic status: a named man – Jairus, a synagogue president – and an unnamed woman. Mark intertwines these accounts.

Jesus, having crossed back over the sea, is quickly surrounded by a large crowd on the seashore. Jairus arrives. When he sees Jesus, he falls down at his feet and begins pleading.

My daughter’s going to die! My daughter’s going to die! Please come – lay your hands on her – rescue her and let her live!

Jesus goes off with the man. And a large crowd follows pressing in in him. Enter the unnamed woman.

Mark tells us . . .

A woman who’d had internal bleeding for twelve years heard about Jesus. (She’d had a rough time at the hands of one doctor after another; she spent all she had on treatment and had gotten worse instead of better.) She came up in the crowd behind him and touched his clothes. “If I can just touch his clothes,” she said to herself,” I’ll be rescued.” At once her flow of blood dried up. She knew, in her body, that her illness is cured.

Jesus knew at once that power had flowed out of him. He asked who it was that touched him. The woman of low estate, trembling, made herself known to Jesus.

My daughter, your faith has rescued you. Go in peace. Be healed from your illness.

(I am reminded of another close encounter rescue: four men carried a paralytic on a stretcher, bringing him to see Jesus. The crowd was so thick around Jesus they couldn’t get near enough to ask for the man’s healing. So, they opened up the roof and lowered the stretcher with ropes. They placed the man right in front of Jesus. Jesus noticed their threads of faith and said to the paralytic Child, your sins are forgiven! (Mk. 2: 3-5))

As Jesus was speaking to the woman, some very sad people arrived from the synagogue president’s house.

Your daughter’s dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?

But that didn’t stop Jesus from rescuing the girl.

Don’t be afraid! Just believe!

Jesus said no to the crowd following him (Too much commotion already?) and went to the synagogue president’s house with only Peter, James and John. When they arrived, there was all kinds of weeping and wailing going on.

Why are you making such a fuss? Why all this weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s asleep.

Mark tells us that they laughed at him and then. . .

Jesus put them all out. Then he took the child’s father and mother, and his companions, and they went in to where the child was. He took hold of her hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Time to get up, little girl!” At once the girl got up and walked about. (She was twelve years old.) they were astonished out of their wits. Then he commanded them over and over not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.

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The demoniac was cut off from himself and society because of what possessed him. Jesus ‘hog-ties’ the “Legion” and plunders the “strong man” domain (cf. Mk 3: 23-27). Jesus expels the unclean spirits and liberates the man from his living death. The image of God is restored. The man wants to go with Jesus but Jesus won’t let him. Jesus sends the unshackled man away so that people will see and hear from the rescued man himself: “Go to your people and tell what the Lord has done for you. Tell them how he had pity on you.”

The woman with the continual hemorrhaging was cut off from just about everything and all the time due to her ritual impurity (Lev. 15:25). She had exhausted her resources to find a cure. Then, by faith, she reached out and touched Jesus, God’s holy one. He rescues the woman from her living death – the constant loss of blood from her womb. She is restored to holiness, purity, and wholeness.

Death, the ultimate separation and defilement, tore the twelve-year old girl from her family. Because of her father’s pleading Jesus comes to her bedside, takes hold of her hand and restores the life that had flowed out of her. She is rescued, reconnected to her family, and is no longer a defilement.

(Note: It is interesting that in Mark’s account of the woman and the girl (5: 21-43), touching and being touched is mentioned six times. Ritual purity – maintaining holiness – was a daily and vital concern for a Jew. Physical contact would trigger any Jew who followed Scripture’s instructions regarding purity.

 Jesus didn’t ignore the ritual purity laws in the process of rescue. Instead, he neutralized the effect of the law by restoring the woman and child. By stopping the flow of blood and making her clean, Jesus ‘neutralized’ the ritual impurity of her touching him. By raising the girl to life, Jesus ‘neutralized’ the ritual impurity of touching the dead (Num. 5:1-4; 19:11-22; 31:19-24))

When Jesus announced “The time is fulfilled. God’s kingdom is arriving! Turn back and believe the good news (Mk. 1: 15) he began to show the world what the kingdom of God on earth means: God would reclaim creation – his temple – and rescue his image-bearing humans.

In these rescue accounts and so many others, Jesus is not asking about the salvation status of the individual. He is not asking them if they want to go to heaven when they die. He is not rescuing people to have them later sent off to become a disembodied spirit in some heavenly realm somewhere over the rainbow. No. Jesus wants those in his kingdom to do what he has done. Death is a short interlude. As with the twelve-year old girl, Jesus will take you by the hand, get you up and get you back at it. Death is not a retirement home.

The four gospels (and the epistles) tell us that Jesus interfaced with his creation – as heaven and earth – for its salvation. (Think of heaven as God’s space.) We read that the kingdom of God on earth, as Jesus taught and lived, is about rescue, rebirth, healing, faith and not fear, touching and being touched, making all things new, new creation, new wine skins, wholeness, sound minds, and about the Genesis to Revelation project – God dwelling with man (Rev. 21: 2-4).

The world’s salvation, epitomized in another Tower of Babel campaign – Build Back Better – is another take on rebuilding systems and institutions and on redesigning people and society to save the planet and to benefit the elites.

Much of today’s social justice activists work to force their salvation onto you. They want society to work in certain way. Hence, pseudo-moral campaigns like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), and the coming social credit scoring.

As I see it, Jesus didn’t do social justice – changing systems and institutions to save people. Jesus has a human connection with people and so much so that he went to the cross for their salvation. You won’t see one politician going out of their way to sacrifice anything. And, what do social justice activists sacrifice?

Jesus spoke against the self-righteousness that’s behind much of today’s social justice activism. And, he didn’t coerce anyone to be rescued. He didn’t force salvation onto anyone. People came to him with their faith and open hands. He responded to their need.

The difference between the world’s salvation and Jesus Saves is the difference between putting yourself into the hands of a bureaucracy and some ism and putting yourself into the hands of the Infinite-personal God in Jesus.

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Same Road. New Vista.

What’s that you say? You’ve just arrived from Cyprus and you are new to the area? And, you’ve heard some incredible things? You want me to tell you all that’s happened? Come in for some water and …some bread.

Where should I begin, stranger? There is so much that has happened the last three days – the last three years, in fact! And long before now! Since you are a visitor from Cyprus, I will start with some necessary background so you will understand why my husband and I are so giddy.

My husband Cleopas and I – I am Mary – settled many years ago in this fertile valley below Jerusalem This area is known as Emmaus. We call this place Motza. Our village is about 30 stadia from our beloved Jerusalem.

As you have seen, it is a well-watered area with rich soil and an abundance of willow trees. During the Feast of Tabernacles celebration many come to our valley and gather willow branches. They take the willow branches and stand them up on the sides of the altar with their tops bowed over the altar.

Our valley has many springs watering it. Our people come down to one of Motza’s springs to get water for baking their matzo for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

I’m sure you noticed the Roman Centurions stationed here. My husband says it is a strategic position for them as they can protect the ascent to Jerusalem on the road leading from Jaffa. And, it is strategic in the ways I know of. Cleopas has overheard some of them saying that they would like to retire here because of the many springs and because north of our village the valley widens offering them plenty of room for settlement and for growing food.

My husband and I are simple farmers. But life for us and our people has not been so simple. Many of us have long desired to be freed from the rule of those who do not worship the One true God. When the Babylonians overtook Jerusalem and carried our people away into exile it was the Isaiah the prophet who spoke for us …

O Lord our God,

other lords besides you have ruled over us

but we acknowledge your name alone.

Now, we are back in our land and still the pagans lord over us. So, we wondered: Would our God act again to bring us out of this exile as he took us out of Egypt? And, when will God resurrect Israel and restore her as a nation? When will the messiah, the Anointed One and Son of the Most High from the line of David, restore the house of David? When, when, when …when would God redeem his people and set up his everlasting kingdom on earth?

On many Sabbaths, as we gather in the synagogue, words from the Torah are read. And then the words of the prophets – the haftarah. We all felt the hopelessness and despair in the words of the prophet Ezekiel: “our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Our leader would then pray these words:

Vindicate me, my God,
    and plead my cause
    against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are
    deceitful and wicked.
 You are God my stronghold.
    Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?
 Send me your light and your faithful care,
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you dwell.
 Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

Yes, there were times of renewing hope and rejoicing. This past fall my husband and I and pilgrims from Cyrpus and from faraway lands went up to Jerusalem for the feast of the tabernacle. We carried with us willow branches and olive branches to build to sukkah – our temporary booths. When we all gathered together, we shouted praises to God, sang the songs of Aliyah and waved our fragrant lulavs – our willow branches and palm fronds – before the Lord in a spirit of thankfulness.

After the feast, we walked home with the pilgrims on the Emmaus road, the same road that brought you here. Our hearts were burning with expectation as to what God would do. There was much animated discussion about the events of those seven days. And, it all centered on Jesus. You must know about him, don’t you? How can anyone not know?

That day as we walked along we talked about his feeding the five thousand by the shore of Galilee. We talked about our seeing him healing the blind and the lame. And, Lazarus had been raised from the dead! We marveled that demons were being cast out and at Jesus’ authority over them. And, his words! No one ever spoke like he did about the Moses and the prophets. We discussed how our religious authorities despised him and wanted to do away with him. This made us all fearful, as it would negatively affect our synagogues. Yet, they each said that many were believing in him as the one who was to come.

But Miriam told the group that that even his brothers did not believe in him. She learned this from a young doctor named Luke, whom she met at the feast. He told her that Jesus’ brothers wanted Jesus to show himself publicly so that he could become well-known. “Show yourself to the world!” they said to him. They wanted to put Jesus in a situation which would make him prove he is the Messiah. But Jesus told them “My time is not yet. The world can’t hate you, but it hates me, because I am giving evidence against it, showing that its works are evil”. He told them to go up to the feast. Miriam said that Jesus went up later in secret and now we know why. There was a considerable dispute in the crowds. Some said “He’s a good man and others “He’s deceiving the people!” There were those who hated him and wanted to do away with him.

Ruth told us about the twelve-year old Jesus. His family had gone up to Jerusalem for Passover. When they left to return to Galilee with a caravan of friends, they had traveled a day’s journey before realizing that Jesus wasn’t with the group. He had vanished! So, they went back up to Jerusalem and searched for him for three days. They couldn’t find him anywhere. When they finally did put their eyes on him, he was sitting with the teachers of the law. He was listening to them and asking questions. Those listening to him were amazed at his answers to their questions. But, Mary was neither amazed or happy. She scolded him for disappearing. “Child”, she said to him, “why have done this to your father and me? We have been frantically searching for you”. Jesus told his mother, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I would have to be getting involved with my father’s work?” They didn’t understand a word of what he was saying. Wasn’t his father a carpenter?

Oy, there is so much to tell. I will focus on the last few days and on what happened to Cleopas and me this afternoon. What happened the last few days in Jerusalem we learned from the Jesus’ disciples as Cleopas and I were in Jerusalem for Passover. I can tell you that it was a time of weeping and anguish.

As you may have heard, on the night of Passover Jesus was captured by the authorities – ours and Roman. Though he had done nothing wrong he was sentenced to death on a Roman cross. Our authorities pushed for this, shouting “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea and then released by Pilate to the angry crowd. Jesus was crucified like a common criminal. When we learned of this our hearts were broken, our hopes were dashed. “What good is a dead messiah we asked each other? We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” God be praised! There is more to tell you!

We were in Jerusalem this morning. We heard many, many accounts and rumors of visions and of Jesus’ tomb being empty. The disciples were at a loss as what to make of it all. Peter had gone off to see for himself and confirmed that the tomb was indeed empty. But he was as perplexed as the rest of us. We waited for while longer to see what might come of it all and then we decided to head home. Now, this is the part I’ve been waiting to tell you… I can barely …

Cleopas and I headed home to our village. Along the way we discussed all that had happened that morning. We argued, too, about what it meant. As we walked a stranger approached us and began walking with us. He was not at all familiar to us but he must have overheard us. He started the conversation:

Rowan LeCompte and Irene Matz LeCompte, “Third Station of the Resurrection: The Walk to Emmaus” (detail), 1970. Mosaic, Resurrection Chapel, National Cathedral, Washington, DC. Photo: Victoria Emily Jones.

“You’re obviously having a very important discussion on your walk. What’s it all about?”

We stopped walking and turned to him. He must have seen that we were both downcast. Cleopas answered the stranger. “You must be the only person around Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s been going on there the last few days.”

“What things?” he asked.

“To do with Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet. He acted with power and he spoke with power, before God and all the people. Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. But we were hoping that he was going to redeem Israel!

And now, what with all this, it’s the third day since it happened. But some women from our group have astonished us. They went to his tomb very early this morning, and didn’t find his body. They came back saying they’d seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Some of the folk with us went off to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see him.”

“You are so senseless! So slow in your hearts to believe all the things the prophets said to you! Don’t you see? This is what had to happen: the Messiah had to suffer, and then come into his glory!”

At this point, we were quite perplexed. Who is this stranger and why is taking this so personally? We were both taken aback by the zeal and authority with which the stranger spoke. We searched his face for answers to what we didn’t recognize in all of the Sabbath words. He began walking and we followed.

We listened to the stranger explain Moses and the prophets and all of Scripture in terms of the One who was to come and ransom Israel and bring her and the whole world out of exile. He told us …

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

As he spoke, it was like we were no longer walking down the Emmaus Road.  We were on top of a mountain. Our eyes were opened to a vista that went far beyond anything we had known. Everything we had been taught, everything we had heard and seen, began to take on new meaning. He went on to talk about a kingdom on earth and about new creation. His words astonished and exhilarated us. Wonder and joy flooded our hearts.

We reached the intersection to our village. We turned down our road. The stranger kept walking down the Emmaus road. We called after him urging him to stay with us. He kept walking. Cleopas finally ran up to him and pleaded with him to stay with us. “Sir”, he said, “the day is almost over. Stay with us.” The stranger agreed to come with us.

We invited him in and gave him a bowl of water and a towel to wash his hands and feet. We gave him water to drink. We sat down to a small meal. The stranger took the bread up into his hands and prayed, giving thanks for the meal. He then broke the bread and gave it to us. It was then …it was then …it was then that we were shocked beyond belief! Our jaws dropped and we looked at each other with wide open eyes. Cleopas and I saw that the stranger was Jesus, the resurrected Jesus! And, as soon as we saw him, he vanished from our sight! Poof!

We were speechless. The Anointed One and Son of the Most High was walking with us and talking with us and sitting down to eat with us! Everything we hoped for had come true in our sight, as Anna the prophetess foretold and Simeon prophesied! … Our eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people!

Now, our new friend, Cleopas and I have to return to Jerusalem to tell our brothers and sisters all that has happened this afternoon. We must break bread with them. Come with us and you will see him, too!

As we walked the 30 stadia back up to Jerusalem, Cleopas and I kept pinching each other. We walked and danced and walked and ran and clapped. We kept saying “Do you remember how our hearts were burning inside us, as he talked to us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?” Cleopas, in his booming voice and with a smile on his face, kept repeating “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave” and the words our Sabbath leader prayed:

Why are you cast down, O my soul

And why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him.

We both shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

The Cypriot, not sure what to make of all this, watched us from a distance. There was an amused and perplexed look on his face.

Adapted from the Gospel according to Luke (2:41-50)

“Obedient even to death . . . yes, even the death of the cross”

 

 

“…I’m telling you the solemn truth: unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains all by itself. If it dies, though, it will produce lots of fruit…

…Now my heart is troubled,” Jesus went on. “What am I going to say? ‘Father, save me from this moment’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”

 

 

Crucifixion Nikolai Ge

The Eyes Have It

At the cross. At the burial. At the empty tomb. Three wait-and-see days. Three women.

The gospel according to Mark begins with the ushering in of “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son” (Mk. 1:1). Composed of short narratives that could be easily visualized by those who heard its reading, Mark’s terse and unembellished gospel clears a straight path so that the reader can see and perceive Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises (Mk. 1:3).

For example, Mark uses literary bracketing (inclusio) to focus in on that fulfillment. Two accounts of blind men receiving their sight bracket Jesus telling his disciples (three times) that he will be rejected, handed over to the authorities, killed and then rise from the dead after three days.  (Beginning Bracket: Mark 8:22-26; End Bracket:  Mark.10:46-52.)

Because of their own unwillingness to really really look at Jesus (cf. Mk.8:25) the disciples do not perceive Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises through death and resurrection.

At a mission critical point in the gospel account -Mark chapter 8 – Jesus reproaches his disciples for their lack of understanding. We learn from the brutally honest account that those closest to Jesus, each with two good eyes and two good ears, still did not grasp that the Messiah had to be crucified and then rise again. We hear that in Peter’s repudiation of that mission (Mk. 8:32).

Peter is Mark’s principal eyewitness source of what Jesus said and did and of the disciple’s reactions. But after the end of Mark chapter 14, where Peter’s denial is recorded, Peter and the male disciples are nowhere to be seen or heard from.

Three women are introduced into the passion narrative (Mk 15). They are the source for Mark’s passion account. They are eyewitnesses of what occurred at the cross, at the burial and at the empty tomb.

Earlier in the text, Mark wrote of the blind gaining sight, of those with two good eyes not seeing and not perceiving what was taking place. Mark now places emphasis on seeing that would lead to perceiving and, hopefully, to belief. He records the seeing of the women seven times:

Henry Ossawa Tanner

At the cross. Some of the women observed from a distance. They included Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. They had followed Jesus in Galilee, and had attended to his needs. There were several other women, too, who had come up with him to Jerusalem. (Mk. 15: 40-41).

(Note that Mark added that these women had also been with Jesus for most of his ministry. He is telling us that they had observed Jesus from his early ministry to the empty tomb. These women likely heard Jesus teach his disciples new things: about him being handed over to be killed and his rising from the dead after three days. (Mk. 8:31-32; 9:31-32; 10:32-45)

At the burial. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where he was buried. (Mk. 15:47)

At the empty tomb. After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could come and anoint Jesus …” who’s going to roll the stone away for us?”

Then, when they looked up, they observed that it had been rolled away. (It was extremely large.) (Mk. 16: 1-4)

So they went into the tomb, and there they saw a young man sitting on the right hand side. He was wearing white. They were totally astonished.

“Don’t be astonished,” he said to them. “You’re looking for Jesus of Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been raised! He isn’t here! Look – this is the place where they laid him.

“But go and tell his disciples – including Peter – that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just like he told you.” (Mk. 16:5-7)

The earliest manuscripts of Mark’s gospel account end at 16: 8:

They [the three women] went out, and fled from the tomb. Trembling and panic had seized them. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

This is a curious ending for a gospel that begins with “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son”. Mark clearly wanted the readers to perceive Jesus as the Messiah, God’s son. He clearly wanted the reader to take in the crucifixion of the Messiah and his bodily resurrection. Why end good news with fear and trembling?

Mark’s gospel account may have had a longer ending. If the original manuscript was written on a scroll (likely), the edge of the scroll containing his ending may have deteriorated. This also happened to many dead sea scrolls.

Later copies of Mark contained appended text (Mk. 16: 9-20). This text may have been added by a scribe in the second century who was familiar with Luke’s gospel account. There are similarities. Mark’s promise of “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son” has been restored- fulfilled – with the added text. And so was Mark’s emphasis of those not perceiving what is taking place.

Mark’s narrative emphasis on hardness of heart leading to unbelief – rejecting what has been seen and heard by eyewitness accounts– is reinforced in the added text:

When Jesus was raised, early on the first day of the week, he appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told the people who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive, and that he had been seen by her, they didn’t believe it.

After this he appeared in a different guise to two of them as they were walking into the countryside. They came back and told the others, but they didn’t believe them.

Later Jesus appeared to the eleven themselves, as they were at table. He told them off for their hardness of heart, for not believing those who had seen him after he had been raised. (Mk. 16: 9-14)

At the cross. At the burial. At the empty tomb. Three wait-and-see days. Three women seeing seven times. Eleven hard-hearted disciples. And you? You still don’t get it? (cf. Mk.8:21)

All God’s promises, you see, find their yes in him: and that’s why we say the yes, the “Amen,” through him when we pray to God and give him glory (2 Cor. 1:20)

The eyes have it. Amen.

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“Nowhere in early Christian literature do we find traditions attributed to the community as their source or transmitter, only as the recipient. Against the general form-critical image of the early Christian movement as anonymous collectivity, we must stress that the New Testament writings are full of prominent named individuals . . . Compared with the prominence of named individuals in the New Testament itself, form criticism represented a rather strange depersonalization of early Christianity that still exercised an unconscious influence on New Testament scholars.”[i]


[i] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, MI), 2017), 297

Palm Sunday and the Problem of Evil

Just a few centuries before the first Palm Sunday, Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.) promoted to his followers the notions of another ancient Greek philosopher, Demetrius (c. 460 – c. 370 B.C.). Demetrius’ had proposed the theory of Atomism to account for nature.

The theory in brief: the universe is a material system governed by the laws of matter. The fundamental elements of matter are atoms. Random, unguided ‘atoms’ smash into each other, thereby creating the world and life as we know it. Epicurus went on to tweak Demetrius’ theory by saying that atoms do not always go in straight lines but can “swerve, avoiding atomism’s inherent determinism and allowing for free will – just like the gods.

Per Epicurus, the gods were off somewhere happily doing their thing unconcerned about anything. They existed without needs, were invulnerable to any harm, and were generally living an enviable life, not anxious about anything. As such, they exemplified what Epicurus’s followers should seek to attain in their limited human nature.

For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by aponia, the absence of pain and fear, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that pleasure and pain are the measures of what is good and bad, that death is the end of the body and the soul and should therefore not be feared, that the gods do not reward or punish humans, that the universe is infinite and eternal, and that events in the world are ultimately based on the motions and interactions of atoms moving in empty space.The Epicurus Reader

Epicurus also taught that nothing should be believed except for that which was tested through direct observation and logical deduction – believed via the sensate and reason. Based on such thinking along with having the viewpoint that the gods were distant and uninvolved and therefore unrelated to ‘thinking’ and ‘sensing’ man’s life, man had to make do with the atoms he had been dealt. Don’t look to a personal God for help.

What was most important in Epicurus’ philosophy of nature was the overall conviction that our life on this earth comes with no strings attached; that there is no Maker whose puppets we are; that there is no script for us to follow and be constrained by; that it is up to us to discover the real constraints which our own nature imposes on us.The Epicurus Reader

As Epicurus evaluated the Greek and Roman gods of his time and man’s attempt to please and cajole the gods to obtain favors, it would make sense for him and his followers to deduce that “there is no Maker whose puppets we are”. And, for Epicurus to further reason the problem of evil paradox:

“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can but will not, then they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?” ― Epicurus

 The Epicurean paradox was answered with another paradox: What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:4

In the fullness of time, including Epicurean times, the Lord of the universe put on human flesh – dust fashioned from the created elements including about 18% carbon – to deal with the problem of evil. There was nothing ambiguous or theoretical or abstract about the appearance of God’s own son Jesus. There was direct observation -seeing, hearing, and touching – by his followers.

Philosophers and atheists, before and after Epicurus, pronounced judgement on God for all the evil in the world.

The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven. – George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce

To address evil, Jesus announced the kingdom of God on earth. What was begun in Genesis – the ordering of material creation to build God’s temple on earth so that God would dwell with man – was reinstated by Jesus. This blueprint or worldview was on the books long before Epicurus arrived on the scene. And so is the record of God’s faithfulness. God, as revealed in Jesus, puts things to right.

Jesus entered space and time flesh and blood to pronounce judgement on evil. He did so without equivocation. Jesus did not succumb to pleasure seeking to avoid pain. He did not succumb to Satan’s temptations to find happiness. Evil unclean spirits were cast out. Hypocrites were denounced and death itself was overturned. Jesus suffered the full force of evil on the cross – an act of redemption from evil’s ransom.

The King of Glory wept over Jerusalem and his chosen people. The Israelites had so often rejected their reveal-to-the-world-the-one-true-God vocation. They had not been faithful stewards of God’s vineyard. Did Epicurus see no difference in their God and the Greek and Roman gods?

On that first Palm Sunday, just a few centuries after Epicurus taught that there was no personally involved God, the King of Glory, emptied of his glory, rides a donkey into Jerusalem to meet evil head on and to put the world right. The “Epicurean Paradox” would be addressed and soundly answered.

What will you do with the knowledge that the infinite-personal God, embodied in human form, speaks to the very human concerns behind Epicurean philosophy?

Journeywomen and the Sons of Thunder

Post spoiler: The world hasn’t ended and the gates of hell have not prevailed against the church.

In preparation for a move, I went online searching for an Anglican church in a different state. I came across an interesting web article:

Beth Moore is not the first Baptist to journey to the Anglican Church – Baptist News Global

The article drew me in with the transition mentioned in the title. The first paragraph offered more detail about the move:

. . . Beth Moore left the Southern Baptist Convention in 2021 and soon after was seen in a photo serving Communion at an Anglican church.

The article went on to disturb me as I read of the appalling way Christians treat other Christians. The author, Rick Pidcock, relates some of the ‘ex officio’ and corrosive reaction to Beth Moore prior to her leaving the SBC in 2021.

 At the Truth Matters Conference in 2019, which was a gathering to celebrate John MacArthur’s five decades of ministry, Todd Friel asked MacArthur to play a word association game with the two words “Beth Moore.” To which, MacArthur famously replied, “Go home.”

MacArthur’s henchman Phil Johnson added, “The word that comes to my mind is ‘narcissistic.’”

Then MacArthur jumped back in to say: “Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the TV sales channel doesn’t mean you should be preaching. … The church is caving in to women preachers. … Women are not allowed to preach.”

Dear God! A celebration of five decades in ministry and grown men on a stage mocking a woman in public? Is this how Christian men should treat a Christian woman and even when they think they possess all the Truth that Matters (and, apparently, none of the grace that matters)? I understand, though. Some men want to play Elijah.

One would think that after five decades Mr. Sola Scriptura would have learned that Christians were not given the Word of God for the purpose of belittling and calling down fiery scorn onto women of faith. The Word, its understanding by the spirit, and the fruits thereof are given to inform our love, our grace and our prayers for others along with our worldview.

It remains to be seen if John MacArthur and his henchmen are mature Christians. Was Beth Moore present to defend herself against the scorners? And, did those present smile and laugh in agreement? Will MacArthur speak to Beth Moore, confess what he did, and ask for forgiveness? It remains to be seen.

Women are not allowed to preach: MacArthur’s authoritarian intransigence reminds me of another insular authoritarian: Dr. Anthony Fauci. During the media’s COVID pandemic Fauci preached “the science” dogma. If you disagreed with “the science” you were declared a heretic, exiled from social media and from any and all discussion. Period. And like MacArthur, Fauci has a fan club to ensure that the doctrine-of-what-he-says is in your face. Science Matters.

The behavior of the Truth Matters men gives the appearance of a pride of place smack down, their use of authority and power as “Truth is what I say it is”.

Their behavior also recalls the either-or-or thinking of James and John – the “sons of thunder” as Jesus calls them (Mk. 3:17). Either you think and do as I say and get with the program or you are against us and we will demand that you stop. And if you don’t accept us then we will call down fire from heaven and burn you up, just saying.  

“Master,” commented John, “we saw someone casting out demons in your name. We told him to stop, because he wasn’t part of our company.”

“Don’t stop him,” replied Jesus. “Anyone who isn’t against you is on your side.”

As the time came nearer for Jesus to be taken up, he settled it in his mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead of him. They came into a Samaritan village to get them ready, and they refused to receive him, because his mind was set on going to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Master, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them up?” He turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

Do those, who sit in the seat of scoffers (Ps. 1:1), think that Beth Moore is now a heretic because she serves in a capacity they adamantly deem to be unfitting for a woman?

Apparently so, as the article states:

When Reformation Charlotte recently discovered that Beth Moore was wearing a robe and serving Communion in her new church, they called her an apostate, posted screenshots of the service and of the church’s volunteer schedule, and reminded the world of their prediction that “it would only be a matter of time before Beth Moore becomes full-on gay-affirming.”

Slippery slope arguments are not arguments. They are cheap shot syllogisms done to create fear and disdain among the hearers. Slippery slope arguments are prayer avoidance techniques – why talk to God about this when I can foresee the future because I possess all the Truth that Matters? In this instance, it is the grease on the slopes of Truth Mattershorn.

No Christian woman should ever be treated in this way. And, certainly not by a group of authoritarian church leaders who believe they have rightly divided the word of God by cutting women out of heralding the Good News.

Two of the three reasons Jesus summoned, appointed, and named twelve “apostles” was 1) to be with him (as eyewitnesses), and 2) to be sent out as heralds (of what they witnessed). (Mk. 3:13-15). * Let us be reminded that many, many of the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection were women. They heralded what they saw:

Some of the women were watching from a distance. They included Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. [From the beginning] They followed Jesus in Galilee, and had attended to his needs. There were several other women, too, who had come up with him to Jerusalem. (Mk. 16: 40-41)

After Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, and when the sabbath was over, it is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who bought spices so that they could come and anoint Jesus. They find the stone rolled away. They are greeted by a herald.

The angel tells them to go herald the news (Mk. 16: 7):

But go and tell his disciples – including Peter – that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, just like he told you. (What, Jesus talked to women? Women receive revelations from God?! Isn’t that setting up a slippery slope scenario?! And go tell the Matterhorn of the church?!)

Does anyone think that these women – and so many other female eyewitnesses of the ministry of Jesus, e.g., Mary and Martha and the resurrection of Lazarus – does anyone think that these women didn’t herald in their community and synagogue what they witnessed?

And who can forget that two disciples (Cleopas and one unnamed- likely a woman named Mary) met Jesus as they were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day that Jesus rose from the dead. They invited Jesus to come home and eat with them. (Luke 24)

Women are not allowed to preach. Huh? What about the female apostle Junia (Romans 16:7)? Junia minsters in partnership with Andronicus and Paul, is well known to the apostles and is a fellow prisoner (for preaching?). It is very likely that Junia had seen the risen Lord.

You may not hear this acknowledged in your androcentric church: beyond a Proverbs 31 characterization of the “good wife”, women are featured prominently in the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection narratives in the gospels. And women, like those mentioned above, continued to herald the events of those narratives to the growing church and to all who would listen. (I use the word “herald” in the Apostle-choosing sense noted above so as to not trigger certain males with the word “preaching”.) The topic of women in ministry deserves a dedicated post.

Now, I don’t know much at all about Beth Moore. But with regard to the ongoing slander of a Christian sister, I agree with the apostle Paul: When people persist in sin, rebuke them openly, so that the rest may be afraid. (1 Tim 5:19).

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As mentioned above, the article drew me in with the transition mentioned in the title. The author uses Moore’s evolution to relate his own journey from Baptist to Anglican. He notes at one point that he is no longer Anglican because his spiritual journey kept going beyond where the Anglicans were willing to go. He goes on to say . . .

The Anglican Church drew me in from my Baptist heritage because it acknowledged my exile and gave me space to move. While I was there, it gave me a taste in the particular for what is true everywhere. But ultimately, it allowed harmful voices within its walls to speak to my children and built walls for women and LGBTQ people that I believed needed to be knocked down.

Pidcock goes on to acknowledge My Baptist-to-Anglican journey may be different than others. 

My own church progression has been from Baptist to Evangelical Free to Anglican. My journey has also been about breaking down walls but not in the sense and direction that Pidcock is willing to go to – I will not be an LGBTQ activist. The walls that kept me from growing spiritually were within me and surrounded the outer court – the church setting.

For example, the Bible church services I attended during much of the sixties and seventies seemed to reenact the ‘62 and ’71 Billy Graham crusades in Chicago. Sunday services had calls to walk down the aisle and commit your life to Christ. Then, it was understood, one was supposed to go to church, straighten up and fly right. Church approved options were “go into ministry” and “become a missionary”. Church approved options for women: women could dream of being a pastor’s wife or a missionary wife. Tra-la.

Wasn’t there more to the Christian life than talk of sin, judgment, and salvation and producing more expositors of sin, judgement, and salvation? What did it mean to walk in the spirit and to abide in Christ? To grow up in Christ? And, I never once heard a sermon about serving Christ as an engineer, high school band director, artist, writer or poet. Secular occupations were not deemed Godly enough, I guess.

There was and still is a part of Just as I Am before my commitment to Christ that needed to grow and not linger in the aisle of salvation sentimentality. I became disheartened and disillusioned by the church. I felt intellectually and spiritually stunted just being there. Sure, there was plenty of Bible teaching. But getting Bible knowledge was not enough for me. (Sounds heretical, doesn’t it?) And, it seemed that the church wanted to remain Just as It Was. I wasn’t the only one to notice.

During the late ’60 and into the ‘70s I was involved in the Jesus People movement in Chicago. Our local group often read from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The contrast between the church in Acts and the church I was attending was stark. I didn’t respond well to the disparity.

I began a prodigal journey that, like the parable account, brought me all kinds of loss. Looking back, it wasn’t until I began attending an Anglican church in my fifties that I began to lead a redeemed and productive journey. The author of the above-mentioned article put it this way regarding his own transition to an Anglican church:

For many people who come from conservative Baptist backgrounds, finding the Anglican communion feels like coming out of exile and returning home to everything that had been growing in you for years. 

Those words resonate with me in this key regard: the Anglican church I attended offered the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the pinnacle of the Anglican liturgy, not preaching. I realized that that is what I have been looking for all of my life: a confirmation of the presence of the Lord in the elements and in me as I partake.

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.” T.S. Elliot, Little Gidding

In the Anglican church setting the Book of Common Prayer informs the liturgy with readings, collects, the prayers of the people and rites. I savor this type of intellectual atmosphere. The liturgical format allows me to listen and think and grow. Rick Pidcock put it this way:

While my theology was shifting, the liturgies felt like anchors that were keeping me from getting swept away. And in the liturgy of the Eucharist, I could receive an experience of the presence of Christ with all my senses.

How did this transition happen? Before coming to the Anglican church, I tuned out Bible teachers. I cleared my head. Preaching and personalities were getting in the way of my understanding. I avoided the either-or thinking of the John MacArthurs. I stayed away from “red in tooth and claw” Christianity.

As revealed above, there are those “sons of thunder who believe they have a right and are justified to talk and act the way they do because they walk around with their body of truth and must defend it from outliers and Samaritans. During much of my life I operated the same way. I was judgmental, lacked grace, and hurt many along the way. I was just like the “sons of thunder”. But Jesus would have none of that.

I acknowledged my own sorry disposition and began a self-imposed apprenticeship to understand Jesus and his worldview. I read extensively outside what I have been taught, assessing the new knowledge against the old. Walls were breaking down. I began to view the Christian life as a series of spectrums. (See the article’s quote of Thomas McKenzie’s The Anglican Way.)

During the apprenticeship process, my eyes were opened to many things, including . . .

-The either-or thinking that uses the pulpit to make fun of others and speaks of grace as something only doled out when you are acceptable.

-The reductionist young earth creation account that I was taught in ‘Bible” churches. A “plain reading” of Genesis is vastly different for the ancients who read Genesis than it is for moderns who impose their version of “plain reading”.

In short, Genesis begins, not with the material creation of the universe, but with the ordering of and function-giving to the preexisting non-functional material creation. The ancients reading Genesis understood that a cosmic temple was being built.

What happens within the 7-24-hour days? Day One God gave humans the function of time. Day Two God gave humans the function of weather. Day Three God gave humans the function of food. Each function is necessary for a human-oriented world.

Days Four to Six parallel Days One to Three but now roles are assigned to functionaries. Humans are given the image of God imprint.

Day Seven is when God has complete setting up his temple and now sit down (the earth is his footstool) to oversee his work. Humans are given the responsibility to care for the cosmic temple. This is where God and man are to dwell together.

-The certainly of the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. Scripture says this is so and I have experienced it. My life has changed.

-God declared (imputed) me “righteous” in the law court scenario Paul presents in Romans.

-There is no such thing as the “rapture”. That is a misreading of the text. God will not abandon his creation. He is rebuilding the temple: Don’t you see? You are God’s temple! (1 Cor. 3:16)

-We are saved not just so that we get go to heaven when we die. More reductionism. Rather, we are born again so that Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. As new creations we are to advance the kingdom of God on earth, reflect God’s glory on earth, his cosmic temple, and wait for our Lord’s return to put things to right. “Heaven” is just a short-term way station before “new creations” return to earth with the Lord.

-Memorizing large portions of Scripture enables me to meditate, gain insight, instill the word into my life, and cross reference and contextualize Scripture. I have memorized four Psalms and the first five chapters of the Gospel According to Mark.  

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I will always have a desire to explore and push myself further than where I am now. Once I know what is out there, I will reflect back on where I started and understand it using my new knowledge.

Having gathered what I have learned and the tools acquired over time, I have become a journeywoman for Christ. Where the Lord uses me is up to Him. When he does, the world won’t end and the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.

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* Could it be that one reason Jesus chose men to be apostles was not for a “created order” motive but for very practical ethical reasons. Spending 24/7 time with women would raise questions and offer temptations to everyone involved.

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Miroslav Volf and N.T. Wright talk about the future of the Church:

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“Episode_1743 economy, biolabs, Ukraine, serfdom, w/Steve Cortes, Don Jr., Dr. Naomi Wolf, Dr. Robert Malone, John Solomon”.

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Informed Dissent:

The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 to 2022 has exposed for all to see how evidence-based medicine has been corrupted by the governments, hospitalists, academia, big pharma, tech and social media. They have leveraged the processes and rationale of evidence-based medicine to corrupt the entire medical enterprise.

The illusion of Evidence-based Medicine (substack.com)

The paper of record has a terrible record:

Of course, the New York Times should be teaching by example. In fact, it has not supported free speech, protected the First Amendment, or allowed honest debate. It has not allowed competing perspectives about the most important issues of the day. It has been a mouthpiece for greedy corporations and corrupt government officials.

Mendacious New York Times’ warning about Censorship (substack.com)

Moderna’s co-founder created a quantum dot tattoo to track the vaxxed. The company is now using AI to generate endless mRNA jabs. Welcome to Transhumanism, Inc.

Vaxxed By Machines, Tracked By Machines: Humanity To Be Augmented One Cell At A Time (substack.com)

When you submit to irrational government COVID mandates, Christians suffer. Nothing in Scripture tells you that you have to submit to pagan nonsense.

Exclusive: Pastor Artur on his 51 days behind bars – Rebel News

Your (inflation) taxes increase . . . with Biden’s (not Putin’s) inflationary economics:

Inflation Will Cost Americans an Extra $5,200 This Year: Bloomberg (businessinsider.com)

Dehumanizing and objectifying women:

Women Should Never Be Reduced To “Bleeders,” No Matter How Much The Feminine Hygiene Companies Try | Evie Magazine

Another article by Rick Pidcock:

In this world of spiritual warfare, theological compromise and Republicans losing the White House, there lives a group of men, mostly white, who put on their armor, saddle up and ride into the glorious battlefield known as Twitter. They alone wear the belt of truth as they stand firm against the wiles of the Devil.

Who are these men? They are the Theobros.

Their mission? Correcting women’s theology on Twitter.

Meet the Theobros, who want you to know they’re right about everything – Baptist News Global

Sunday Funnies:

Sunday Strip – by Robert W Malone MD, MS (substack.com)

And not funny at all:

There is a secret society that wants to control . . . everything . . .

The World Economic Forum and the Sovereignty of Mankind – Dr. Robert Malone (rumble.com)

End of the dollar empire:

Phillip Patrick – The New CPI and “The End of the Dollar Empire” (rumble.com)

Astonished and Afraid and the Hand of God

There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
    Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” Psalm 4: 6

The day came when Jesus arrived at a synagogue in Capernaum with a small group of swarthy fishermen. The leader of the synagogue asked the newcomer to speak to the gathered. The reaction of those assembled is recorded in the gospel according to Mark (1: 22).

They were astonished at his teaching. He wasn’t like the legal teachers; he said things on his own authority.

The hearers were εξεπλησσοντο – astounded, amazed, struck out of their wits, and were being knocked out. No second or third-hand hearsay accounts from Jesus.

Continuing the valid data stream (ευαγγελιου: Mk.1:1) begun of Peter’s eyewitness account of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son, Mark reports (Mk. 1:23-26):

All at once, in their synagogue, there was a man with an unclean spirit.

(You will read in Mark’s gospel account that the presence of Truth, very Truth, causes vile things to come crawling out of the woodwork and be exposed for what they are.)

All at once . . .” What business have you got with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” he yelled. “Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: you’re God’s Holy One!”

“Be quiet!” ordered Jesus. “And come out of him!”

The unclean spirit convulsed the man, gave a great shout, and came out of him. Everyone was astonished.

Those in attendance were awe-struck not just by word but also by deed – the exorcism.

“What’s this?” they started to say to each other. “New teaching – with real authority! He even tells the unclean spirits what to do, and they do it!”

In chapter two of Mark’s narration (Mk. 2: 3-12) Mark reports the reaction of another gathered group to the healing of a paralyzed man. You know the story?

After ministering to people in the open country – the crowds were becoming massive – Jesus returned to Capernaum. When word got around that Jesus was at home, a large crowd gathered once more with the result that people couldn’t even get near the door as he was telling them the message – God’s kingdom was arriving.

Four people arrive carrying a paralytic on a stretcher. They can’t get near Jesus because of the crowd. So, with know-how and dogged determination to bring about the restoration of one of their community, the four neighbors create Plan B: open up the roof and lower the stretcher. (NB: The men didn’t lower their expectations. Their faith finds a way to place their ‘concern’ into the hands of God.)

Jesus saw their faith, and said to the paralyzed man, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”

Legal experts, who were among those gathered in the house, were likely there to investigate “mis-information”. Notice their reaction in the presence of True Authority.

“Who does this guy think he is. It’s blasphemy! Who can forgive sins except God?”

Jesus, knowing in his spirit that thoughts like this were in the air, poses a question to everyone’s Who does this guy think he is question.

“Is it easier to say to this cripple ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher, and walk’?

“You want to know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins?”

Not just by the word of forgiveness but also by deed, Jesus turns to the paralytic and tells him to Get up, take up your stretcher, and go home.

The man got up, picked up his stretcher in a flash and went out before all of them.

Everyone was astonished, and they praised God. “We’ve never seen anything like this!” they said.

The authority by which Jesus forgave the man’s sins and then raised him up to new life amazed the people who witnessed it all. They had never visualized that this would happen – We never saw it on this fashion. They were so filled with awe, in fact, that they began to glorify (δοξάζειν, doxa) God, reimagining what it meant for God to dwell with man in his temple on earth. Themes of redemption, restoration, and resurrection were invoked that day when the hand of God reached from Scripture into their lives:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and do not forget all his benefits—
 who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
 who redeems your life from the Pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
 who satisfies you with good as long as you live
[a]
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Not everyone’s reaction, though, was recorded by Mark. That reporting would take up volumes. No doubt, though, that the four men who carried the stretcher were relieved of their burden and went back to their community to rejoice with the healed man.

Let’s go on to reactions of fear, as recorded in Mark (chapters 4 & 5).

In chapter four we read about Jesus teaching a massive crowd as he stands on a boat just off shore. The evening of that same day, Jesus and the disciples sail over the sea to the land of the Gerasene’s.

Chapter five records Jesus encountering a man with an unclean spirit – a “Legion” of unclean spirits. The man’s brutish behavior undoubtedly frightened the people living in that area. They tried to restrain him but without luck.

Well, in between the off-shore teaching and reaching the far shore where the untethered demon-possessed man lived, a big wind storm blew up. The boats that Jesus and his followers sailed in began to fill with water. Jesus, according to Mark’s/Peter’s account (Mk. 4:38), was asleep on a cushion in the stern. (I would have no doubt that standing in the hot sun on a boat projecting your voice for hours would exhaust anyone.) They wake him up.

He got up, scolded the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Shut up!”

The wind died and there was a flat calm. Then he said to them, “Why are you scared? Don’t you believe yet?”

Great fear stole over them. “Who is this?” they said to each other. “Even the wind and the sea do what he says!”

Terror gripped the disciples. They were in the presence of . . . who? It appears that their reaction indicates a petrifying reimagining of Jesus as God with us.

The disciples certainly had been taught in synagogue to fear God (Deut. 10: 12-13). It appears that their reaction also indicates a reimagining of what it means to fear God – not just holding ultimate respect for God but also holding onto the reality of his sovereign power over all creation. They undoubtedly knew of God holding back the Red Sea so Israel could cross over and escape the Egyptian army. Now this! Right in front of their eyes!

Their fear would become a proper φοβος (phobos) or phobia and not an irrational phobia, of say, pagans. The disciples had seen God and lived to tell.

Fear abounds in Mark chapter five when Jesus does what no one had the ability to do: tie up the “strong man” and plunder his house (Mk. 3: 27). Jesus exorcises the man with the “legion” and commands the unclean spirits to enter a herd of pigs per the request of the spirits. The spirits didn’t want to leave the country. (My guess: the unclean spirits were given territory to control by the Satan.)

The herd of about two-thousand pigs rushing into the sea and drowning caused a panic.

The herdsman fled. They told it in the town, they told it in the countryside, and people came to see what had happened. They came to Jesus: and there they saw the man who had been demon-possessed, who had the “legion,” seated, clothed and stone-cold sober. They were afraid. The people who had seen it all told them what had happened to the man – and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to leave their district.

The unknown and uncontrollable had happened. Folks were awe-struck, gob-smacked, and beside themselves with fear.

We then read that Jesus got back into the boat and the recovered soul asked to go with him. Jesus wouldn’t let him.

Go back home,” he said, “Go to your people and tell them what the Lord has done for you. Tell them how he had pity on you.”

He went off and began to announce in the Ten Towns what Jesus had done for him. Everyone was astonished.

All men did marvel. And it could be said – as taken from the Greek wording – that people in the brief accounts mentioned were astounded, amazed, awe struck, put out of place, knocked out and beside themselves with fear. The hand of God will do that.

****

Tell me. What blows you away? Announcement of a new iPhone? A blockbuster sale? A blockbuster movie? Is it the computer-generated imagery (CGI) that Hollywood keeps cranking out? CGI has never block-busted me, not even fantastical sci-fi smash hits. I don’t marvel at Marvel comics on the big-screen. What’s to believe about what it offers? People in funny costumes role playing about saving the earth from made up monsters? (It unsettles me when I hear grown men talking about Star Wars and Spiderman movies. Ant Man?!)

What causes you to be afraid? It could be any number of things.

The hand of God may astonish you and make you wondrously afraid. Any fear should not be to the point of begging Jesus to leave, as the account above details. One of scripture’s most repeated commands is “Fear not”.

Ask Jesus to heal your imagination so that you will see the hand of God at work in your life. Then let the hand of God astonish you and make you reverently afraid. You will come to REAL-ize that you are I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

*****

Personal note: Shane (1953) is my favorite western. No CGI used. No PC. No soy boys involved. Just homesteaders in Wyoming territory defending their homes and farms against a bully named Ryker.

Ryker claims ownership and rights to the range. He ultimately brings in a hired gun to deal with the homesteaders and the mysterious Shane, a hired hand on a homestead.

The parallels to the abuse of power today are striking.

*****

*****

Special request: Congress members, including Nancy Pelosi and Lindsey Graham, should be made to take sobriety tests before they deliberate, pass laws and speak to the public in their capacity as congressional representatives.

*****

One can pretty much tell what the media wants you to focus on by the changing yards signs of the virtue signalers in your neighborhood. Around me the signs have changed from . . .

TO

Informed dissent:

Dr. Malone describes ‘pattern of unusual Covid cancers’… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Dr. Malone describes ‘pattern of unusual Covid cancers’… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

(READ) Pilots sue CDC to block mask mandates on federal transportation | Sharyl Attkisson

45,500 Rapid COVID Tests Recalled – “High Number Of False Positive Reports” (thegatewaypundit.com)

What the Left brings to bear:

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Reports 35 Percent Increase in Child Pornography From 2020 to 2021 (thegatewaypundit.com)

Power is in Tearing Human Minds to Pieces (substack.com)

The Greater Good Soil

If you have ever gardened, you know that soil conditions matter.

Jesus, as recorded in the gospel of Mark chapter four, teaches a massive crowd as he stands on a boat just off shore. He speaks of the Sower and the seed. He uses the ordered functions of creation (cf. Genesis 1: 11-12; Ps. 104:14) to illustrate. The crowd hears of four scenarios for seed that is sown.

The first three scenarios: seed laying by the path is eaten by birds, seed on rocky soil springs up and withers away, and seed sown among the thorns is unable to grow and produce a harvest. The fourth scenario is of seed on good soil.

The good soil receives the seed and produces a harvest of varying increases up to one-hundred-fold. One could say that the outcome from the good soil is for the greater good. But, what about outcomes from the first three scenarios? We may get a hint from what happens next.

The evening of that same day, Jesus and the disciples sailed over the sea to the land of the Gerasene’s.

As they get out of their boats, they are immediately confronted by a man with an unclean spirit. He was emerging from a graveyard which is where he lived. No one had been able to restrain him, not even with chains. He’d often been bound with chains and shackles; but he tore up the chains and snapped the shackles. No one had the strength to tame him. On and on, night and day he shouted out from the graveyard and the hillside and slashed himself with stones. (Mk 5: 1-20)

A seed putting down roots into good soil, sprouts and grows and produces a harvest for the greater good. And a man who has put down roots in a graveyard, his humanity defaced by his choices to let evil in, produces shouts and screams and endless trouble for everyone. The contrast of outcomes illustrates that the soil of one’s life matters

For good soil, composition matters.

• Good soil tilth.
• Sufficient depth
• Proper levels of nutrients
• Good drainage
• Large populations of beneficial organisms
• Resistance to weeds and degradation
• Resilient when unfavorable conditions occur

 From:  Soil Health: What Makes Good Soil? – Countryside (iamcountryside.com)

Add to the good soil attributes above the humus of humility, a fertilized imagination and a desire to be cultivated. In other words: you have ears to ear, you see God working, and you work with God.

And, of course, good soil surrounds us. It has existed since the beginning of time. Good soil must be preserved and cared for. But the good soil of civilization is being threatened by Progressives and the advocates of the Build Back Better New World Order.

The acid-rain they produce will remove the life-producing minerals and nutrients found in good soil civilization. And then life will become arid, barren, desert-like and unsuitable for growth. We may find ourselves living in a graveyard shouting day and night and slashing ourselves with stones.

In the following video, English philosopher Roger Scruton (1944-2020) speaks from a humanities viewpoint about what civilization offers. Progressives will pooh-pooh what Scruton says. They are the high-minded with no root in themselves.

Now, add to good soil civilization the values of integrity, dignity and community. These three values were sown into the soil of my life during elementary school in Chicago during the fifties and sixties and by my parents and the church. These values were sown by the caretakers of good soil civilization. These days, it seems that the number of good caretakers is diminishing. Being thought of as a Progressive and avant-garde and “not-one-of-them” seems to be the fashion.

The Left champions itself as revolutionary in approach. Those on the Left assume they know all there is to know. They talk down to people. They produce 3rd grade level communications. They pay no attention to what the past has given us or what they will pass on to future generations. The present is theirs to rework the good soil in order to produce the crops of collectivist kitsch they so desire.

Progressives work to destroy the created order to impose their creation of disorder and dysfunction, e.g., males participating in women’s sports.

As a reminder . . .  So far under Joe Biden – a short list:

-Record Inflation.

-Mandates galore.

-Disaster in Afghanistan.

-Supply shortages.

-Russia invading Ukraine.

-USA a joke on the world stage.

Progressivism’s ideological weeds choke out the sun so that nothing can grow under its canopy. Hence, Progressive’s use of uncertainty and fear to produce ideological outcomes.

In the past two years there are those on the Left who have sown the good soil with dishonesty, disrespect, and division. Dr. Robert Malone voiced his concern about this during his Defeat the Mandates speech in Washington, D.C. He emphasized good soil civilization ethics:

Integrity is a commitment to truth . . .”

Dignity flows from respect for ourselves, for others and the world we live in “

Community is what binds us together, to each other, and gives our lives purpose and meaning”

“. . . a commitment to truth . . . “ Good soil life and good soil civilization require truth.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote his essay Live Not by Lies while still living in the Soviet Union. The day after the text was released, he was exiled to the West. I have included a pdf copy of his essay below.

What follows is a quote from the essay followed by Solzhenitsyn’s proposals to meet his challenge:

So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice:  Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood—of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies—or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries. . . .

· Will not write, sign, nor publish in any way, a single line distorting, so far as he can see, the truth;

· Will not utter such a line in private or in public conversation, nor read it from a crib sheet, nor speak it in the role of educator, canvasser, teacher, actor;

· Will not in painting, sculpture, photograph, technology, or music depict, support, or broadcast a single false thought, a single distortion of the truth as he discerns it;

· Will not cite in writing or in speech a single “guiding” quote for gratification, insurance, for his success at work, unless he fully shares the cited thought and believes that it fits the context precisely;

· Will not be forced to a demonstration or a rally if it runs counter to his desire and his will; will not take up and raise a banner or slogan in which he does not fully believe;

· Will not raise a hand in vote for a proposal which he does not sincerely support; will not vote openly or in secret ballot for a candidate whom he deems dubious or unworthy;

· Will not be impelled to a meeting where a forced and distorted discussion is expected to take place;

· Will at once walk out from a session, meeting, lecture, play, or film as soon as he hears the speaker utter a lie, ideological drivel, or shameless propaganda;

· Will not subscribe to, nor buy in retail, a newspaper or journal that distorts or hides the underlying facts.

The Greater Good Soil. Live Not by Less.

*****

Episode_1655 Regime Politics, Canada trucker convoy

*****

*****

Informed Dissent:

CDC data signaling vaccine catastrophe (wnd.com)

Our Country’s New “Race-based” Healthcare System is a “Hate Crime” Against White People – Revolver

Open Letter to the Canadian Truckers. (substack.com)

Teacher unions are not qualified to set public health policy

Letter from a Coerced Mother – by Robert W Malone MD, MS (substack.com)

Highly acclaimed peer-reviewed Bangladesh study shows that masks don’t work at all (substack.com)

New York Times Bombshell – CDC hiding COVID Vaccine data (rumble.com)

JUST IN – Large German health insurance company analyzed data from 10.9 million insured individuals regarding vaccination complications. The new data is “alarming,” says BKK board member Schöfbeck in a report by WELT.

Board member of large German insurance company blows the whistle on COVID vaccines (substack.com)

Don’t be Brain Dead – by Robert W Malone MD, MS (substack.com)

Democrats think, not in terms of freedom, but in terms of control:

“I’m gratified that the Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s restraining order, meaning that if a school mask mandate needs to go into effect in the future, we continue to have that authority. I’m also extremely pleased to say that because the CDC has recommend that masks are needed only in areas of high transmission, the State of Illinois will move forward to remove our school mask mandate, effective Monday. We will recommend that school districts follow CDC guidance and will update our existing guidance in the coming days. (Emphasis mine)

-J. B “Jelly Belly” Pritzker, Governor of ILLANNOY

Pritzker: Illinois school mask mandate being lifted on Monday | FOX 2 (fox2now.com)

The Lefties are all about thmeselves:

VIDEO: Texas Middle School Teacher: “Those Conservative Christians Need to Get COVID and Die” (substack.com)

Parents are homeschooling:

HUH?

Meet the rabbi ‘queering’ religion at Jesuit Catholic USF – J. (jweekly.com)

Black gay priest in NYC challenges Catholicism from within | AP News

#FlushTurdeau

Canadian lawmakers extend emergency powers act for truck protests : NPR

Watch Live | Canadian Parliament votes 185-151 to approve Trudeau National Emergency… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Civil forfeiture for the sake of civil forfeiture? FBI seizing your day:

The FBI Seized Almost $1 Million From This Family—and Never Charged Them With a Crime (reason.com)

Truth for Health Foundation – A 501(c)(3) public charity incorporated in Arizona, USA

Parallel Economy:

The Parallel Economy Fund – Gab News

Major Pastors Rebuke David French Over His Repeated Criticism Of Churches And ‘White Evangelicals’ | The Daily Wire

Your money:

Diversification: The Most Underrated Investing Superpower (birchgold.com)

Rate Hikes Ahead – What Should Savers Do? (birchgold.com)

The Next Market Crash Is Overdue, and Will Be Catastrophic (birchgold.com)

Have Investors Been Mispricing Gold’s Investment Value? (birchgold.com)

The war on cash is a global effort being waged on many fronts. My view is that the war on cash is dangerous in terms of lost privacy and the risk of government confiscation of wealth.

The War on Cash Entering Bold New Phase – The Daily Reckoning

Andrew Torba, CEO of GAB social at AFPAC:

I disagree with Andrew on this one point: God’s kingdom has begun on earth, as Jesus announced (Mark 1:15).

AFPAC 3 || Andrew Torba: Builders for the Kingdom of God | Three Spoons (gab.com)

Half Life

From the beginning, Peter had the determination of three boys his age. Out of earshot, some called him “stubborn” and “bull headed”. Others called him “a little terror”. And others, teachers mostly, said he needed medication just to be around. His parents, a minister and his wife, called their gift from God “Mr. Resolute”.

When little Peter decided something, he would plead endlessly with “Now!” He wouldn’t take “No” or “Not now” for an answer. The first of five children, Peter often wore his parents down with the strength of his will. And though Peter could badger them non-stop, Peter kept on himself even more to complete a task.

When focused on an activity – his parents came up with problem solving activities – Peter found it hard to give it up or move away until he accomplished the objective. His parents saw potential in Peter’s persistent ways – he could become a high achiever who followed his passions.

So, they chastened and channeled the stubborn streak. With sternness and loving care, Peter’s parents applied the proverb The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

They responded to Peter’s repeated demands with “I hear you. Can you come up with a solution?” When Peter became frustrated, they urged him on saying “You can do hard things” and “Sometimes we make mistakes, and that is how we learn.” When Peter worked through his frustration and completed a hard task, they recognized the effort with “How’d you do that?” and “You have what it takes. You have grit.”

The only time his parents saw five-year-old Peter temper his assertiveness was when folks from the church watched Peter on a date night. Peter played doctor with their daughter who was two years older than Peter. Her self-assuredness captured Peter’s attention. “This is what a doctor would do” she would tell Peter.

One Sunday, years later, Peter’s father preached a sermon titled Making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Peter decided to make a decision to follow Jesus that day. Almost immediately impure thoughts and desires became glaringly obvious at this new intersection. There were two directions he faced: towards Laurie, a high school junior, who had been flirting with him non-stop and who was “easy” according to his friends and toward Jesus who wasn’t defined as “easy”.

The summer before his freshmen year, the high school’s track coach saw the tall gaunt Peter running along a road. The coach pulled his car up, opened the window and talked with Peter as he ran. He said that Peter should give cross-country a try and then drove off.

Peter joined the team and began running 5K races. What Peter soon realized was that the long-distance running – the regular practices and the meets – were a means to direct the fire within him. His daily pattern of run-eat-school-run-eat-study- sleep kept him burning the fuel that would otherwise consume him. He told himself that the only lines he would cross were the starting line and the finish line of a race worthy to run.

During high school Peter mastered his school work and was selected to become a member of the National Honor Society. And during those four years he had several part-time jobs and summer jobs that kept him focused.

After high school graduation, Peter looked for ways to channel his stick-to-itiveness. His minister father suggested that his never-back-down attitude would serve him in the army. Peter could sign up and get up to full college tuition, as well as money for housing and books through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The minister knew that Peter’s resolve and wisdom would be tested in the army. Would he hold up, his mother feared. She prayed that Peter would return sound in mind and body. On his eighteenth birthday Peter entered the army. He went through rigorous training and learned to obey orders.

Then one day, three years later, the staff sergeant told his squad “Vaccine – get ‘er done!” Peter didn’t submit to the order. Though he was twenty-one and felt indestructible, his gut – or was it the Holy Spirit? – told him to stay away. The sacred space and spiritual fortitude which steeled him would not be gutted by an experimental vaccine.

His parents had raised him on reason and revelation. The mandated vaccine didn’t fall into either category. Wasn’t he training to go into battle to defend and secure freedom and democracy? “Uncle Jab wants you,” is the vacant stare that came down from the top.

Like many soldiers, Peter submitted a religious exemption. Aborted fetal cells, used in the production of the vaccine, precluded taking the vaccine. Others submitted medical exemptions. All of the vaccine detractors, talking amongst themselves, became aware of the mounting adverse effects and casualties caused by the vaccine.

But the military hierarchy ignored medical and religious exemptions. The military demanded unquestioning obedience to the COVID vaccine and to the new Critical race Theory and Diversity Equity and Inclusion programs. Those programs never included religious convictions, as Peter witnessed firsthand.

Some in his squad were saying “The army has become a clown show” and “The army cares more about superficiality than substance, culture than character”. The army discharged Peter and over 3000 other soldiers for not taking the unholy clot shot.

When he returned home, Peter’s father said “You were right to reject the military on those terms. You signed up to serve your country and see the world. Now go see the heartland on your own terms.”

*****

From the beginning, Lena had a knack for nurturing. She played veterinarian with her dog and neighborhood pets. She played house and doctor with the young boy living next door. During high school she helped care for her grandmother who suffered from dementia and spent a couple of hours each weekend at a hospital.

Her Swedish parents, both medical professionals, were hospitable people. They encouraged Lena to interact with their many guests – medical staff of Doctors Without Borders. Lena kept a diary of who she met and what was talked about. They each encouraged her to go into medicine. She made an entry after talking to one nurse:

You can’t buy time. Choose wisely.

After high school Lena set out on a course in nursing. When she stepped into those shoes, she took an oath to practice and uphold the standards of her profession faithfully. Nursing was a perfect match for Lena’s desire to provide care for others.

Six years into working as an ICU nurse, though, Lena left her job at a hospital in Indiana. She told her parents that “policies were being rolled out at the hospital that would ultimately initiate the segregation of its staff on who was vaccinated versus who was unvaccinated.

I was uncomfortable with that and unwilling to cooperate with that kind of treatment. I had seen this treatment play out on my patients as well where doctors and some nurses that I worked with were bullying and harassing my patients for making a medical decision on their own. They were treating people like dementia patients – like they were unable to think for themselves.

Hospitals began mandating vaccinations. I knew I wouldn’t take the COVID vaccine. I pushed back because hospitals have an absolute commitment to follow the data. Ignoring natural immunity in a vaccine discussion is just criminal. 

Over a hundred of us resigned from the hospital due to the vaccine requirement. We can’t tell the patients what risks or adverse effects could occur with the vaccine. It’s criminal. This kind of health care is against everything I stand for. Dementia patients are running the public health programs.”

****

Peter turned on the radio.

All in for the Win, Illinois. Getting vaccinated protects you from catching or spreading COVID-19 — and it’s our best shot at beating this pandemic and getting back to living our full lives. And now, getting the vaccine gives you a shot at winning up to $1 million. As an Illinois resident, if you’ve been vaccinated or are about to get vaccinated, you’re automatically entered in for a chance at part of our $10 million vaccine sweepstakes. Let’s go all in for the win Illinois.

Peter turned the radio dial.

. . . I tried a laxative that is both fast and effective . . .

Peter turned the radio dial.

What’s Your Warrior? Travel, Career Opportunities, Education. . . find your inner warrior . . . Army . . .”

“Yeah, I found my inner warrior. I’ll travel and educate myself.” Peter turned the radio dial.

In 2019 Illinois Democrats elected a fat-cat governor to represent their lottery dreams and Chicago Democrats elected a Woke NFT – a bug-eyed gay black female to represent the law and order of intersectionality.

In 2020 and 2021, the obese governor locked down and masked any opposition to his mandates. State licensing was the gun to the head.

In 2022, “well-meaning” Democrat state representatives decided a medical apartheid in Illinois was necessary. So, they created a vaccine registry and a quarantine town. The southern Illinois quarantine town is called New COVID.

While unvaccinated illegal aliens cross the southern border by the thousands, Illinois citizens are being herded into New COVID because of their vax resistance and claim of natural immunity.

As mRNA COVID vaccines fenagle the operating system of Americans, so illegal immigrants fenagle America’s operating system. Both experiments disregard the integrity of the host’s system . . .

Peter turned off the radio. He had reached the US 65 Whitesville exit. He took the exit and after two right turns he reached the fulfillment center. From the cab he called the traffic manager’s office to let them know he had arrived. He was told to wait in line. Ten trucks were ahead of him.

With the rig idling, Peter walked over to the dock door and went in. The bathroom and the vending machines were to the right. Truckers were coming in and out. Peter headed into the vending machine room and dropped some coins for some black brew. He sat down and waited for his phone to ring.

Outside the vending room, forklifts zipped back and forth with pallets. The drivers were loading and unloading the trailers. Peter had seen this a thousand times before. What he hadn’t seen before was a blonde pony-tailed-hard-hat wearing woman with a yellow and blue plaid shirt zipping by on a forklift. When the yellow and blue plaid spun by again, Peter was able to catch a glimpse of the driver’s kind smiling eyes.

****

After leaving the ICU nursing position, Lena found work at a distribution center in Whitestown, Indiana. She had a student loan to repay. And though for the moment it didn’t look promising, Lena hoped that when the courts ended the COVID mandate madness, she would be back nursing again. She put her resume online. In the meantime, Lena earned eighteen bucks an hour over a 36-hour pay period. She loaded and unloaded semi-trailers.

It was during one shift that she caught a glimpse of a tall scrawny guy with steel-blue eyes. He was talking on the phone in the vending room. On her return trip past the vending room, he was gone.

A trailer backed into bay 7. Before reaching the bay’s bumpers, the driver jumped out of the cab and opened the trailer doors. The driver then backed the truck up to the bumpers up and set the brake. Lena pulled the loading dock release chain and the loading dock came up and unfolded. Then she put her weight on it to have it come down on the bed of the trailer. It came down with a loud “clunk”.

A trucker driver came through the dock door and was heading over to Bay 7. Lena, driving up in a forklift, noticed him walking and looking at his watch. She pulled the forklift up next to him and told him “I’ll get ‘er done!” Peter raised his eyes and said “Yes, ma’am. You will. I am five hours behind schedule.”

Peter handed her the shipment receipt. “I’m Bill . . . Bill Lading.”

Lena laughed. If you’re “Bill Lading, I’m Kari Awai. Go have some coffee and I’ll get this done fer you.”

Peter watched her unload the first pallet. She maneuvered the forklift in, picked the load, and then backed out across the diamond plate. Then she headed off to some aisle in the warehouse. The blonde ponytail, the sky-blue eyes, the pixie smile – What maneuvers do I have? Peter asked himself as he headed back to the vending room. “I’m not much to look at. I’m so skinny I don’t even have a shadow.”

In the vending room Peter called his next stop to tell them that he was behind schedule. There weren’t enough people to unload trucks, he told them. “I’ll be there sometime after eight-o’clock.”

Forty-five minuets later, Lena came into the vending room. She handed Peter the signed bill of lading and a tin foil-wrapped package.

“What’s this”, Peter asked.

“It’s your bill, Bill, and some banana bread I made last night.”

“Well, that just dills my pickle”

“You from the south?”

“No ma’am. I just end up talking to southerners at the truck stops.”

“I see. Should I go on pretending your name is Bill Lading? My name is Lena.”

“No ma’am. Name’s Peter. And thanks for the banana bread. I need something beside this varnish remover I’ve been drinking.” Peter pushed aside the paper cup of vending machine coffee.

“Are you back this way again?” Lena raised her eyebrows.

“Yes ma’am. I’ll be here next Tuesday. I drive a circuit: Whitestown to Edwardsville, Illinois to Nashville and then back here. How about you? You work on Tuesday’s?”

“I do. My circuit is this warehouse 36 hours a week.”

“Well ma’am. I hope our paths cross again. I look forward to that. I gotta get back on the road.” Peter tipped his hat. “Miss Lena, thanks for unloading and loading me up. You are the bee’s knees.”

“See you, Peter. Safe travels” Lena responded and then watched him walk out to his rig.

****

Week after week Peter and Lena crossed paths at the warehouse. Their conversations, though constrained by work, offered more and more insight into each other’s life.  From the beginning there seemed to be a purpose for their relationship. Then, one Tuesday, Peter didn’t show up.

Then another week went by and then another. Six weeks passed and no Peter. Though nothing had been formalized between them, the loss of a friend had Lena beside herself.”

Week seven and Peter’s rig appeared in the driveway. Lena met him at the dock door.

“What happened to you?” Lena asked wide-eyed.

“I was put in COVID jail. I drove into Illinois a few weeks ago. The State police stopped me at a weigh station at Marshall. They said I wasn’t in the vaccine registry. So, they hauled me off to the quarantine townNew COVID. That’s where I have been this whole time. I had heard about New COVID on the radio but I thought that was all just talk – nothing like that could happen in the U.S. But I was wrong.”

“Jeepers. Are you OK?”

“Yeah, I had COVID a long while back. I have immunity. But that wasn’t good enough for those COVID crusaders. What is not OK is my route. I asked to change my route. I will not go back into Illinois. I will not download their COVID tracking app. I will not deliver to any Blue state. Enough is enough. I will only drive through free states. I dunno what will happen. I may not have a job soon.”

Listen, I came straight here from New COVID to see you. I have nothing to unload. When your shift is done, do you want have dinner in town? We can talk.”

“OK, Peter. Let’s have dinner and talk. I clock out at 4:30. Leave your rig in the back lot and I’ll drive us over to the café in town.”

“Sounds good, Lena. Right now, I’m gonna head over to Love’s Travel Stop across the way and see if I can find me a clean shirt.”

****

At the Most Café, Peter and Lena each ordered a bowl of soup and a half sandwich. Lena started the conversation by asking Peter what got him into trucking. Peter was ready to talk.

“After being discharged from the service for not getting vaxxed, I was depressed. I had enlisted ready to give my life for my country. After giving up almost two years of my life to the Army, the first skirmish I got into was over the experimental vaccine. I didn’t enlist to be experimented on.

“Lena, I gave almost two years of my life to the Army and you need at least two years of active duty to qualify for the education benefits. The whole situation made me angry and depressed.

“I came home, went into my bedroom, and shut the door. My father knocked on the door after I hadn’t come out for a while. I think I told you my dad’s a minster.”

Lena nodded. Peter asked the waitress for more water and then continued.

“My dad knew that I was miserable. He must have figured out that I was dealing with my depression and anger by looking at stuff online. My room was dark except for the computer screen. Anyway, he came in and told me that I had to get my act together. “You can handle the hard stuff”, he said. Then he told me that a friend was out front asking for me.

“That was Rick, a high school buddy of mine. He told me about trucking. He helped me get my CDL and I began long hauling. So, instead of seeing the world with the Army, I began seeing the countryside. My father gave me his blessing and a flip phone to use if I was in trouble. He told me “Best stay away from those porn shops along the highway exits. You weren’t compromised by the unholy vaccine. Don’t become compromised with pornography.”

“Lena, Wow! Just wow! I never said that to anyone before. I . . . wow! . . . I talk about this stuff because . . . well, you . . . you are not like anyone I know. I feel safe with you. “

Lena grabbed Peter’s hand. “I love it that you are being so open with me, Peter. Please go on.”

Peter took a bite of his sandwich and put it down.

“The commanding officers wanted us grunts to compromise our bodies with an experimental unholy vaccine. They wanted to compromise our reason by telling us that being white is being racist and the country we serve is racist.

“The base was made to watch a video portraying American history as racist since 1619. I am a de facto white supremacist per a Critical Race Theory video. It’s crazy! I was bunking with a black guy. I am best buddies with him and with Jose the Hispanic guy in the next bunk.  

“You know, I enlisted voluntarily. I didn’t enlist to become a showcase for an unholy vaccine. I didn’t enlist to give up my mind and soul – my inner warriors. I volunteered my time in return for an education. I didn’t sign up to be converted from alpha male into a check-your-privilege-soyboy-beta-bot . . . there’s another word for that on the base.

“I enlisted into the army and not a culture club. With the Army’s diversity, equity, and inclusion program we’d end up equally dead — but safely ‘vaxxed’. No wonder recruitment and retention are down.

“So, here I am – driving a rig, making good money and saving to go to school. How about you, Lena?” Peter gulped down some water.

“Well, I’m driving a forklift,” Lena began, “because I left an ICU nursing position. I worked so hard last year. I mean, I was there through thick and thin when we had no help… it was horrible. The people that put forth the rules and kicked one-hundred and twenty of us to the curb, they weren’t there. They weren’t even in the building to be seen for months. They were staying at home while we were doing all the work.

“Before the mandates had been rolled out, the hospital wasn’t forcing us to take the vaccine or be fired, but they were rolling out policies that gave different treatment to vaccinated people versus unvaccinated people. I couldn’t believe it. I was there to treat patients, not just the chosen patients. When did healthcare become choosing winners and losers? The Nursing Code of Ethics that I’m supposed to adhere to includes a patient’s autonomy and right to self- determination.

“The hospital then rolled out a mandatory vaccination program with products marked for “emergency use”. We were told to treat the EUA product as fully authorized.

“I chose to forego the emergency use authorization vaccine because I possessed natural immunity after contracting the coronavirus. “I had COVID last summer, I don’t need that vaccine,” I told the hospital but natural immunity was not an option at all. I was escorted out the door by security.

“I’m driving a forklift because I have a school loan to repay. I won’t take that experimental vaccine, I won’t abide medical apartheid, and I won’t take government money to make the loan go away.

“So, here I am – driving a forklift, making OK money and sending my resume out.”

“Wow,” Peter wiped his mouth, “This world has gone mad. I’ve got friends in Illinois who have a gun to their head. Three of them had their business license taken away for violating Covid emergency public health mandates that seem to come out of someone’s ass – Oops, sorry for the language.”

“Peter, I work around truckers all day,” Lena replied.

“It’s getting late. I guess we better head out.” Peter paid the check and left a tip.

Lena drove Peter over to his rig, where he’d spend the night. Before getting out he asked Lena for her phone number. She gave it to him and a kiss on the cheek. Peter’s smile bunched his bushy mustache.

“You know, us truckers have to hurry up and wait. We have to get to our destination on time and then wait to be unloaded. When I saw you that first time on your forklift waiting became a lovely day. That day went down in my log book and tonight will too. I’ll be calling you Lena. Count on it.”

Peter got out and Lena drove home.

The next morning, Peter bought some jumpy juice at Love’s and headed to Tennessee. He was looking to buy a truck route that would keep him out of COVID jail and for a place to settle down.

****

Five months passed. The evening phone conversations between Lena and Peter turned toward the future. They talked of children and adopting. They talked logistics.

Peter told Lena that he’d gotten a route that kept him in Tennessee. “I’m living in a townhome not far from a hospital and the truck’s terminal,” her told her. He also mentioned that he was going to school on the weekend taking EMT classes. He invited Lena down to take a look.

Using a one-week vacation, Lena came down to Tennessee with her mother Alma. Lena wanted her parent’s blessing on marriage to Peter. Lena also wanted to get back to nursing.

Lena submitted her resume to a clinic outside Nashville. The clinic assisted women and couples facing unexpected pregnancies, offering them life- affirming, free, and confidential medical services including pregnancy testing and ultrasounds. The OB/GYN who ran the clinic hired Lena. She was told that she could start in six weeks to allow for the move to Tennessee. Lena broke the news to her mother and to Peter. That same day and with Alma’s blessing, Peter proposed to Lena. The trio went out to celebrate.

A month later Peter left Chattanooga, drove north to Nashville, and parked his rig. He then drove his car north to Carmel Indiana for the six-o’clock wedding rehearsal. Peter, his eyes burning from driving his rig from Chattanooga to Nashville and then up north through constant sleet in southern Indiana, closed his eyes for a moment.  

Peter’s father received a call at seven-thirty. Peter hit an overpass and died on the scene.

©Jennifer Ann Johnson, Kingdom Venturers, 2022, All Rights Reserved

****

(While a student at Moody Bible Institute, I had a close friend named Denny. Denny had a Culbertson Hall roommate named Steve. The three of us were in the concert band. During out-of-state concert tours we spent a lot of time together.

Steve was the nicest guy in the world. You could tell that he loved Jesus. He liked working with kids during his PCW assignments.

During a winter break Steve left Chicago and drove back to Kansas for his wedding.

We learned later that Steve, back in Kansas, drove to his wedding rehearsal in blinding snow. High winds whipped the snow across the open highway. The family said that after the long drive from Chicago, Steve may have closed his eyes for a second. He hit an overpass and died that night on a Kansas road.)

*****

“Episode_1611 We discuss the Olympics, Soros, the military, and take a deep dive with Dr. Robert Malone.”.

*****

*****

Informed Dissent:

Dissident Covid Report #3: Why are Myocarditis Rates Surging in Europe? (substack.com)

The US Public Health Response has been a Colossal Failure (substack.com)

“Statutory rights have attempted to be bypassed through the issuance of Executive Orders and Emergency Rules … This type of evil is exactly what the law was intended to constrain.”

Judge blocks schools from enforcing Pritzker’s mask, vaccine mandates, refers to policies as ‘type of evil’ | Illinois | thecentersquare.com

Hospital Director in Israel Says 80% of Serious COVID-19 Cases Had Received at Least Three Shots of COVID Vaccines (VIDEO) (thegatewaypundit.com)

CDC Makes Major Admission About Rushed Vaccine Timeline and Heart Inflammation (townhall.com)

Tragic: 6-Year-Old Child Develops Myocarditis Two Days After Receiving COVID-19

Devastating Presentation “Exposing Military Corruption During COVID-19” Sent to Members of Congress (thegatewaypundit.com)

EU Investigates Reports of Menstrual Disorders Following Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccinations — As We First Reported Last Year (thegatewaypundit.com)

Steve Kirsch Blockbuster — Embalmer Richard Hirschman finds ‘novel, bizarre clotting’ in 65% of deaths… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

O Canada:

Must See Video: Justin Trudeau Gets Outed by His Own Brother Kyle as Pawn of New World Order Taking Orders from Bilderberg and the Council on Foreign Relations (thegatewaypundit.com)

Judge orders Ottawa police to return all fuel they seized from Truckers… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Calgary Pastor Artur Pawlowski Arrested Again at His Home by Armed Police on Alleged “Mischief” Offense (thegatewaypundit.com)

Mask Not What Your Country Can Do for You:

‘Free’ and contaminated: Look what happened to Biden’s taxpayer-funded N95 shipment (substack.com)

Democrats are Obsessed with power and control (as of 4-7-2022):

As of February 1st, only nine states, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington, require residents to wear masks indoors regardless of whether or not they’ve been vaccinated.

Some states are removing mask mandates. Illinois is removing masks but not from children. Gov. Pritzker wants to please the teacher’s union for their support in the upcoming election. It was never about science.

Illinois High School Students Told to Put on Masks or Leave — So They Walked Out (VIDEO) (thegatewaypundit.com)

Taking It to the Streets:

SCOTTSDALE SCHOOL BOARD | YOU’VE BEEN SERVED – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

How is this NOT Evil?

“This Is Us” Actress Milana Vayntrub Calls Killing Her Baby in an Abortion a “Beautiful” Experience – LifeNews.com

SUNY Professor advocates for sex between children and adults… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

School Tells Kids to Stop Sending Valentines Featuring White or ‘Gender Normative’ People. (thenationalpulse.com)

Book banning in Texas schools: Titles are pulled off library shelves in record numbers (msn.com)

Illinois HB4244 Mandatory Vaccine Registry is Now in Subcommittee – Lawmaker Proposes HB4640 to Quarantine Exposed to Infectious Disease (thegatewaypundit.com)

Disney teaches kids about Microaggression… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Exclusive: Dr. Li-Meng Yan Reveals CCP Plans to Spread Hemorrhagic Fever Bioweapon Via Olympics, and She Shares the Cure (substack.com)

A direct attack on the First Amendment – You are a Domestic Terrorist if You Question the State:

If you have an opinion and/or fact that counters the government narrative about the election fraud and COVID-19 you are now considered a domestic terrorist. Who determines what is “unsubstantiated”, a “conspiracy theory” or a “misleading narrative”?

DHS: Here is a list of top COVID misinformation spreaders you should investigate ASAP (substack.com)

Illinois Expressway shootings:

Illinois Reported Expressway Shootings (arcgis.com)

The Left – Democrats, Progressives and the like – destroy everything they touch. Soon, “the end of days”:

“Year Zero” – Thread by @pmarca on Thread Reader App – Thread Reader App

COVID Relief Spending Your hard-earned money:

Is This How Walmart Works?

1) They contact city/county governments of potential store sites to make nearby localities compete with one another by offering Walmart free infrastructure (roads, sewage, drainage) and tax rebates (typical store gets $10M in tax rebates for their first few years)

2) They build a store using their national contractors, depriving most of the local tradesmen of any of the work to build the store

3) They offer wages above the prevailing market wage to lure employees away from other employers (don’t worry, these go back down later.)

4) They scout locally owned competitors for pricing, and undercut them

5) Let’s say that your town happened to have a Carhartt factory, Walmart Corporate starts demanding lower and lower wholesale prices. Because Walmart represents 50% of Carhartt’s sales, they can’t afford to say no. So they start making cheaper products. Then they start manufacturing overseas. Soon the plant closes. You’re still paying the same price for a Carhartt jacket, but now it’s poorly made, and your neighbor Jim, who worked at the plant, is out of a job.

6) Your local mom & pop retailer, having lost some of their employees and still having to pay normal Carhartt wholesale prices, can’t compete with Walmart. They go out of business. So now your neighbor Barbara is out of a job.

7) Your town is now devastated, with no manufacturing and no retail other than Walmart. As employees are treated poorly and quit, new employees, having nowhere else to turn, are forced to accept lower wages and part-time positions. They are forced to rely on welfare to feed their kids. Every year, everyone gets a little bit poorer as Walmart’s corporate profits & stock price go up, and the last bits of wealth are extracted from your town and sent to Chinese manufacturers and Wall Street Shareholders. Many people now leave your town to look for better opportunities, splitting up families. Young adults go off to the big city and lose touch with their roots. Others turn to drugs out of despair, fueling an overdose epidemic. All the while, they have no choice but to shop at Walmart, due to a lack of options or due to the financial blight that the Walmart itself has brought to them and their family.

Now repeat this story 3,000 times across the country. So no, I don’t care if people shoplift from Walmart. Walmart made the calculation that the cost of security plus the risk of a lawsuit wasn’t worth stopping shoplifters when they can just let them take whatever they want and charge you, the consumer, for it.

Walmart sold out Americans for profit.