“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”.

*****

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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The Message

In his current state, it might take years for Vic to recover his right mind. He’s been flaying around and mumbling the whole time in the back seat of my car. His mind, no longer aware of surroundings, seemed to be in a state of virtual reality. And that is the reason for the all-night drive.

I was told to not bring a phone or any electronic device with me. I was given a hand-drawn map with sketched landmarks to direct me once I left Highway 16.

Down the backroads, I questioned what I saw. Those Aspens by a fence – is that what’s shown here? Was that the rock formation I was supposed to turn at?  Where are the three lone towering Ponderosa Pines? Is that the field of wildflowers I drive alongside?

After two hours I found myself at a huge rock formation that jutted out northward per the “N” on my map. According to the sketch, an Indian would be there waiting for me. What happens now?

Out from behind a rock came the Indian. He came over to my car and looked inside. When he saw Vic, he shook his head. He looked at me, pointed to himself and said “Notah”. He asked me if I had any electronic devices. I assured him that I didn’t. He told me to follow his pickup truck.

After driving an hour or so, somewhere around Bighorn National Forest, we drove up to the off-the-grid Fire and Flame Human Refuge. Notah helped me walk Vic to the door of the lodge. A petite older woman came out and helped me walk Vic inside. I turned to thank Notah but he was gone.

Inside, there was pine wood everywhere. I felt I had returned to summer camp. A door swung open and the room filled with the aroma of baked corn bread . . . and chili?

With the woman’s help, I brought Vic into the Great Room. I settled him in an arm chair that faced outside. A field of wild flowers was in view. In the distance, fir tree-skirted mountains. Vic put out his hand and began twitching his thumb as if flicking a TV remote button.

There must have been twenty-five people in the Great Room. Catatonic people.

Sharon introduced herself. She was the one who had helped me with Vic. I learned that she managed the refuge. I asked about the people in the Great Room.

“Do you see that woman standing by the window?” Sharon pointed.

“Yes.”

“That is Marisa. She is not looking at the wilderness in front of her. She sees only her reflection in the glass. Up till now Marisa has spent most of her time taking selfies and posting them on social media.”

“What about that man who seems to be constantly scrolling with his finger?”

“Before Bill came here, he was constantly checking social media pages for updates. He developed the scrolling-finger habit as part of a social-validation feedback loop. Dopamine was released into his brain when someone liked or commented on something he posted. Right now, he’s in withdrawal from the social-validation feedback of dopamine.”

“What about that teenage girl over there? The one with the wide-eyed look?” I asked.

“Myra was brought here by her mother. She had isolated herself from her family. She spent hours of the day on social media. Myra has a fear of missing out. It is a common phenomenon for teens to want to be socially connected. Technology offers a non-stop social-validation feedback loop. A teenager, fearing the possibility of social alienation, goes online constantly for validation.

Myra developed a sleep disorder after staying up all night texting. Her school work suffered. She developed poor eating habits and gained weight. The negative effects of her social media interface made her depressed, angry and less social. Technology presents teenagers with a false sense of relational security while ignoring those in the same house.”

“Is that young boy here for the same reason?” I nodded my head in the boy’s direction.

“Yes, similar reasons. His father brought him here. John was online playing games for hours and hours. His father asked him to spend time with him outside – play catch, go fishing. But John refused. Like Myra’s social-validation obsession, when John didn’t play or interact with the games, he thought he was missing out. His father could see that John was missing out on life, so he brought him here.”

“What about that older couple sitting in the arm chairs?”

“They are Jim and Sally. Their close friends brought them here. They were very concerned for them. They told me that Jim and Sally would get up in the morning, turn on the TV and listen for the weather forecast. They would leave the TV on the rest of the day and sit and listen to the world’s take on things and the advertised solution: problem, problem, problem, cure; problem, problem, problem, cure; problem, cure; day and night.

By their friend’s account, Jim and Sally had become terrified, angry and even despairing by what they heard. Honestly, that’s what Noise does to people. C’mon. Let’s listen to them for a moment . . .”

“Jim, you are a racist.”

“We both are Sally. They said so.”

“They’re telling us that we could die from cancer or climate change or COVID or the guy in the White House if we don’t do something.”

“How about we just die, Sally, and be done with the whole business?”

“Now Jim. We should listen to them. They know better than us. They’ve told us so many times that we can’t trust our own thinking . . .”

“I am glad their friend brought them here,” Sharon said. “They needed relief from the Noise . . . At Fire and Flame, we don’t give people sedatives. We give them space to work out their salvation.”

Sharon then asked me why I brought Vic to Fire and Flame.

“Vic has been a friend of mine since high school. We hung around each other and kidded each other all the time. But then things changed when he got devices. He was no longer present with me or to anyone, really. It seemed to me and his other friends that Vic was using technology to avoid us. He talked incessantly about what this and that could do.

Vic’s other friends gave up on Vic. They had come to find out that Vic had spent large portions of his paycheck on new devices. He bragged about the new devices until one day he came to one of his friends and asked him for a loan. Vic wasn’t able to pay the mortgage. He had to borrow money. But that wasn’t the breaking point for Vic.

I heard from a friend that Vic wanted to join me at the Remnant camp to escape the COVIDians. Two people had come to his door and asked him for his Vax papers. Vic learned the reason they came to his door: they had been monitoring him through his devices. He didn’t have Vax papers because he refused to be vaccinated.

The two COVIDians declared Vic “unsafe’ and told him that he was banned from the Internet, email and online accounts. They took away his phone, laptop and internet connection. They wrote his name down on a ledger and said they would be back the next day.

I relayed back to Vic that he could come to the Remnant camp but he would have to go to Fire and Flame first.”

As I was talking to Sharon, Vic got out of his chair and began walking around the Great Room. He was again flaying his arms and mumbling to himself.

“When they first come here,” Sharon said, “they are agitated.” They haven’t been used to having their hands free. They are restless, hyperactive, and full of nervous energy. They cannot tolerate a sense of boredom and look for highly stimulating activity. They walk around and say and do things and are unaware of the effect they have on others. It will take time for Vic to become focused and to stay focused on reality.

“Fire and Flame . . .?”

“Fire and Flame is a portal to a world away from the constant pinging of digital devices. The Dark Forces of this world produce relentless Noise. It is meant to unsettle and distract you from The Message. Here, there is Signal not Noise.”

“Message? Signal?” I asked.

“You will find out tonight.” Sharon replied. “C’mon I’ve prepared a room for you. You can rest before dinner.”

****

A bell rang. We were summoned to dinner and I was again reminded of summer camp. I got up, splashed some water on my face, got dressed and headed down the hallway.

 The dining room was another pine-paneled Great Room: floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides and a fireplace. Twenty-four pine-wood tables filled the room.

When everyone had gathered and were seated, Sharon asked “Evangelist Mark” to please ask the Lord’s blessing on the meal. Evangelist Mark stood up and prayed the blessing on the cornbread, chili, salad and the lemonade (what I used to call “bug juice” in my camp days). Odd how the past and present comingle and not just in my dreams.

I looked around the room. Six people sat at each table. And though so many filled the Great Room, there was little chatter. I saw many somber faces. Some stared off and ate, unaware that others were sitting across from them. Others fidgeted with their silverware and played with their food. A few were animated and tried talking to those around them but received no response.

Sharon sat down and gave a big sigh. She and her helpers had made sure everyone had food before sitting down. “How’s the food?”

“Delicious! The aromas had made me when I came in this morning,” I replied. “Is that Bach I hear in the background?

“Yes. Bach is the sound of redemption. It is particularly effective in helping to balance our brains between dissonance and consonance. The mind is then able to focus and attain deep concentration. This enables an inner quickening of the imagination, creativity, memory and intuition.”

Across the table from the two of us sat Joe. Sharon asked Joe to tell me why he had come to Fire and Flame.

“Well,” Joe began, “. . .  a 5G network. I was told that it was the bee’s knees. They said it was designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices. With it, I was to be almost omniscient – aware of everyone and everything through a mobile ecosystem.

But using it day after day I found myself thinking about the device and what it wanted me to be aware of and wanted me to do next. I had become connected to an impersonal object that was directing my life with its AI. I was fooling myself – actually, I was subverting myself – pretending to be aware and to be in control of my life.

“That’s what brought me here. The addiction to being omniscient and to controlling things was intense. I spent most of my time working the device. I was doing apps, pushing buttons – nonstop! I finally asked myself “Why does my heart tell me to think like this? Inside my head . . . it was like John Cage music playing over and over.

One day I heard of Fire and Flame from a neighbor who was fleeing the COVIDian and Woke persecutions. He said that he was going to the Remnant camp. One night I left everything behind when his car showed up. He drove me here.”

Joe ended his account with a smile.

“Jennifer,” Sharon leaned over. “This afternoon Vic broke into my office. He was looking for a device to get on the internet. I have none. Then he started breaking into cars and trucks looking for a way to connect and found nothing. Then he ran into the woods. Notah found him and brought him back.”

“Vic may try again tonight. If he does Notah will follow him. No one is a prisoner here. We understand it’s a major struggle to be free from Noise. Notah will ask if he wants to return. If not, he will take Vic to a bus stop many miles away from here.

“We are a refuge for humans. We can’t help trans-humans, if that is what Vic wants. They are wired for Noise. We are to live as humans, we are to love. Trans-humans cannot live, cannot love. They only obey digital prompts and inputs.”

****

At twilight, the group from dinner came down to the fire pit. We sat down on the semi-circle of logs around the bonfire. The sun had gone down behind the horizon of mountains and no longer gilded their peaks.

Above us, in the blue-to-black July sky, a conjunction of terrestrial objects – Venus, Mars and the moon. They were easily visible. Venus shone brighter and slightly below the red planet. The familiar moon was making its circuit below.

Across that cosmic vista came a silhouette of a black whirring object. And then another. Sharon leaned over and told me “They are the regime’s Charon drones. They are keeping an eye on us. The regime and the people of the Noise are terrified of the people of the Signal”.

At that moment, a young boy, maybe ten or eleven years old, got up and stood next to the fire. He began . . .

Psalm 1

Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees . . .

The boy recited the Psalm from memory. He sat down and then an older woman – a grandmother? – got up. She began to recite Psalm 61 from memory . . .

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
    when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy . . .

When she had finished, a teenage girl stood up and recited Psalm 104 from memory . . .

 Bless the Lord, O my soul.
    O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
    wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,

    you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
    you ride on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers,
    fire and flame your ministers . . .

When she had finished, she sat down. Each of them had recited their Psalm as a dramatic reading. The words came from their soul.

The drones, now four of them, blotted out starlight as they hovered and circled. I looked around. Was I the only one who noticed them?

Someone yelled “Evangelist Mark! Give us the Good News!” More joined the call.

A man, fiftyish, got up. He took off his glasses and handed them to Sharon. (I learned later that they were husband and wife.) He covered her with a blanket.

The night air had become chilly. More wood was thrown onto the bonfire. People huddled together under blankets. Faces became animated with the fluctuating glow of the roaring fire. All eyes were on Evangelist Mark.

This is where the good news starts – the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son . . .

I recognized the words from the opening of The Gospel According to Mark.

“A shout goes up in the desert; make way for the Lord! Clear a straight path for him! . . .” . John the Baptizer appeared in the desert . . . “Someone a lot stronger than me is coming close behind” . . . This is how it happened . . .After John’s arrest, Jesus came in to Galilee, announcing God’s good news. “The time is fulfilled! God’s kingdom is arriving! Turn back and believe the good news!” . . .When the sun went down and evening came, they brought to Jesus everyone who was ill, all who were demon possessed . . .

Jesus went back to Capernaum . . . a crowd gathered with the result that people couldn’t even get near the door as he was telling them the message . . . A party arrived: four people carrying a paralyzed man, bringing him to Jesus. They couldn’t get through to him because of the crowd, so they opened up the roof above where he was . . . they used ropes to let down the stretcher the paralyzed man was lying on.  Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralyzed man, “Child, your sins are forgiven!” . . .

Evangelist Mark, from memory, continued his dramatic narration of the whole gospel to its conclusion . . .

When Jesus was raised, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first of all to Mary Magdalene . . . Later Jesus appeared to the eleven . . . he told them off for their unbelief and hardheartedness . . . “Go into all the world and announce the message to all creation” . . . When the Lord Jesus had spoken with them, he was taken up into heaven, and sat down at God’s right hand. They went out and announced the message everywhere. The Lord worked with them, validating their message by the signs that accompanied them.

For over an hour, the fireside group sat captivated by The Message. When Evangelist Mark sat down, someone in the group began singing. Then others joined:

If we die with him, we shall live with him;

If we endure patiently, we shall reign with him;

If we deny him, he will deny us:

If we are faithless, he remains faithful. For he cannot deny his own self.

While they sang, I looked for Vic. Then I saw him leaning against a tree, back from the group. Shadows came and went across him, as many began walking back to their rooms. Was that a sparkle of belief in his eyes? Was that the glistening of a tear?

Sharon and her husband Tom – “Evangelist Mark” – walked me back to the refuge rooms. I was tired. Tomorrow I would make the long drive back to the Remnant Camp and to people of the Signal there. Sharon told me that Notah would help me ditch the drones. He knew when they came and went. He could tell by their noise.

©Jennifer Ann Johnson, Kingdom Venturers, 2021, All Rights Reserved

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War Room Episodes:

“Episode_1093 The people aren’t waiting politicians to save them anymore, and we discuss the effects of the vaccine.”
“Episode_10979 Our military is being weakened and Christian churches are under attack in Canada”

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Who is Dr. Malone?

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Informed Dissent:

Camilla Canepa was operated on by Gianluigi Zona, director of the neurosurgical and neuro-traumatological clinic of the San Martino hospital: “I had never seen a brain that was affected by such an extensive and severe thrombosis.”  . . .

The girl arrived in the emergency room in the Lavagna hospital on June 3, just a week after the AstraZeneca shot. She had complained of severe headaches.

Beautiful young Italian girl killed by Vaccine… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Aussie police execute door to door ‘Vaccine Education’… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Two studies: Covid-19 vaccines trigger Graves’ disease in some female health care workers | Sharyl Attkisson

Biden’s Door to Door Vaccine Sales Pitch Leaked: Tells ‘Ambassadors’ to Ignore ‘No Solicitation’ Signs and to Withhold Vaccine Side Effects (thegatewaypundit.com)

(UPDATED) Exclusive Summary: Covid-19 Vaccine Concerns | Sharyl Attkisson

‘Unvaccinated should not be allowed to work, have access to children’… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Macron — The un-Vaccinated officially become second class citizens… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Natural infection vs vaccination: Which gives more protection? – Israel National News

45 Year Old John Hopkins Hospital Employee Dies After Reaction To Mandatory Covid Shot – The Empoweror

Vaccinated people now make up almost 47% of all new Covid cases, symptom-tracking app claims | Daily Mail Online

“This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit”: mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries | ZeroHedge

Archbishop Viganò: Vaccines made with fetal tissue are a ‘human sacrifice of innocent victims offered to Satan’ | Blogs | LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)

Woman Has Both Legs and Hands Amputated After COVID Jab | Populist Press 2021 ©

Bombshell lawsuit: Gov’t whistleblower says coronavirus vaccine deaths at least 45,000 | News | LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)

47 studies confirm ineffectiveness of masks for Covid and 32 more confirm their negative health effects | News | LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)

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Anti-vaccine groups changing into ‘dance parties’ on Facebook to avoid detection (nbcnews.com)

How anti-vaccine groups are camouflaging themselves on Facebook (yahoo.com)

Added 7-27-21:

>>>>>>> You will want to listen to this video about the COVIDian vaccines before it is removed from YouTube:

“. . . So, it is absolutely inevitable that blood clots will form . . . permanently damaged lungs . . . “

Cross Purposes

You and I are inundated by narratives day and night. We are implored to spend our time, money, and allegiance in response to them. Their goads come at us through the mail, and via emails, radio, TV, and social media. Here are only a few of their associated rallying cries:

“Today Only!” “Act Now!” “Call Now!” “Last day to act!” “Crisis into opportunity!” “Doing nothing is not an option!” “Let’s get it done this year.” “We must move beyond climate talk to climate action.” . . . And there is, of course, The Great Reset’s pervasive “Build Back Better!” (bidding us to become the bricks and mortar of the Globalist’s Tower of Babel.)

The pressure to surrender and conform to narratives can be as manipulative as it is intense. The pressure is especially persuasive when a long-standing narrative fuels pressure to have a defining moment enacted. To wit, Palm Sunday and the so-called “triumphal entry”.

In terms of the gospel according to Mark, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, though taking on a “triumphal” and precursive tone, was anti-climactic. There was no takeover, no ousting of Roman rule, and no fire coming down upon the unrighteous.

Jesus entered Jerusalem, went into the temple, and looked all around. It was already getting late, and he returned to Bethany with the twelve. (Mk. 11: 11)

Those who had lined the road up to Jerusalem and had shouted “Hosanna in the Highest” did so out of the highest hopes. Along with the palm branches, they held expectations of a “Messianic Apocalypse”:

. . . for the heavens and the earth will listen to His [God’s] messiah . . . [and all w]hich is in them shall not turn away from the commandments of the Holy Ones. Strengthen yourselves, O you who seek the Lord, in his service! Will you not find the Lord in this, all those who hope in their heart? . . .

These words, from the Qumran text 4Q521 dubbed “Messianic Apocalypse”, were written some 100 years before Jesus. I wonder. Did the people go home that night and ask each other “What’s up with that guy? Why doesn’t he get with the program?” They would have had their reasons for asking.

Second Temple period Jews were experiencing a cultural crisis. Under the rule of a Seleucid (Greek-Syrian) king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes (“god manifest”), that began in 175 BC, the Jews had been under tremendous pressure to conform to Hellenistic culture.

(Note: the apocalyptic visions recorded in the latter chapters of Daniel (7-12) were written in response to the ongoing Jewish persecutions (167-164 BCE) by Mr. “god manifest”. The chapters can be dated toward the end of the Maccabean revolt (see below).

Antiochus did all he could to push his cultural narrative onto the Jews. He plundered the temple, erected an altar for Zeus Olympus in the Jerusalem temple and sacrificed to Greek gods. Traditional practices of Judaism were outlawed.

Many Jews at that time were greatly concerned about the growing assimilation to Hellenism and its gods. While some Jews went along with the cultural change, others revolted against it.

The Maccabean revolt was the armed resistance. Mattathias, a priest, and his sons Judas Maccabeus, Jonathon, Simon, John, and Eleazar led the resistance.  Under Simon, Judea and Jerusalem achieved political independence for a time – the yoke of the Gentiles was removed from Israel (1 Maccabees 13:41-42)

After purifying the temple of foreign elements, Simon led a procession of those playing musical instruments and hymn singers waving palm branches into the temple. This much abbreviated version of second temple times sets the stage for Palm Sunday. You get a feel for what the people were thinking about Jesus.

Jesus entered a Jerusalem under Roman rule. The accounts of the Maccabean revolt, Simon’s “triumphal entry”, and the Messianic Apocalypse stoked imaginations that day. The crowd wanted Jesus to be the fulfillment of their Messianic hopes.

Jesus had encountered similar pressure to conform to the long-standing narrative – the advent of the Messiah – several times before.

When Jesus began to teach his disciples something new – there’s big trouble in store for the son of man – Peter did not hear Jesus conforming to the ‘popular’ messiah narrative. Sure, there had been trouble before. But this? . . .

There’s big trouble in store for the son of man. The elders, the chief priests, and the scribes are going to reject him. He will be killed – and after three days he’ll be raised. He said this all quite explicitly. (Mk. 8: 31-32)

Moments before Jesus said this, Peter had boldly declared Jesus to be the Messiah (Mk. 8:29). Clinging to a notion of the messiah as a formidable political and spiritual power and projecting onto Jesus that notion, Peter rebuked Jesus for saying things that took the wind out of the narrative he and others had been floating.

Jesus forcefully replied to Peter’s cross purposes:

Get behind me, Accuser! You’re thinking human thoughts, not God’s thoughts.

The renunciation of man’s narrative brings to mind Mark 1: 13. There, we read that Jesus went into the desert for forty days and was tested by Satan’s narrative.

Satan wanted Jesus to be the Messiah – a compromised, self-promoting, and self-advancing Messiah. He wanted the Jesus to be the Messiah the people wanted and not the Messiah the people needed.

Jesus had a growing number of people following him. Why not take advantage of the populist surge and clean house and become a hero? As before, there would be processions honoring a conquering hero. “‘C’mon, fulfill your destiny!” “The time is ripe.” “Act now!” “Build back better!”

Good Friday and Easter. We find out Jesus’ Cross Purpose. We find out why, though dealing with enormous opposition, he did not surrender to the pressure or conform to narratives and to cross-purposes. We are admonished to carry on the same way by considering his example:

We must look ahead, to Jesus. He is the one who carved out the path for faith, and he’s the one who brought it to completion.

He knew that there was joy spread out and waiting for him. That’s why he endured the cross, making light of its shame, and now has taken his seat at the right hand of God’s throne. He put up with enormous opposition from sinners. Weigh up in your minds just how severe it was; then you won’t find yourselves getting weary and worn out. -Hebrews 12: 2-3

Next, we’ll look at the gospel record of Jesus countering narratives and settling debates using “God’s thoughts”. We’ll also take a look at conformity.

*****

“We need an army to rise up,” he said. “We need people to stand up and not comply. We need a civil rights awakening again, noncompliance like Martin Luther King, Jr.” Our guests are: Rabbi Spero, Rudy Giuliani, Pastor Artur Pawlowski, John Brakey

A Blessing on Those Who Hear God’s Word!

 

lo·go·cen·tric [ˌlôɡəˈsentrik, ˌläɡə-]

 

ADJECTIVE: regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality (especially applied as a negative term to traditional Western thought by postmodernist critics, e.g., French philosopher and Deconstructionist Jacques Derrida, 1930-2004).

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Deconstructionism is taught and practiced extensively in colleges and universities today.  It directly affects our world by removing traditional meaning from texts and, thus, effectively shutting down debate. Here is philosopher Roger Scruton’s take on deconstructionism and Derrida:

“Deconstructive writing refrains from stating anything directly or assertively. It quickly withdraws from any proposition that it sets before us, and spirals off into questions – as to deny a foothold to the skeptical outside…. the deconstructionist critic will not engage in philosophical argument…Derrida is aiming for a radical ‘reversal’ of our ‘Western tradition’, and of the belief in reason that has guided it.”

–Roger Scruton, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture, the chapter entitled, The Devil’s Work

For Derrida and other decons, there is no authority, sacred or otherwise, except for their self-referential community, the ‘intelligentsia’. For them, there is no truth and no creator and nothing transcendental to be found in texts. Texts contain only words on a piece of paper and they will gladly help you deconstruct those words down into gobbledygook. They are the purveyors of absence of meaning, the dispensers of Nothing. Decons turn language against itself. And, it seems now that Orwell’s 1984 was prescient, presenting us with Newspeak.

But those of us in the Kingdom of God know better. Or do we?

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Scripture as read, in the churches that I grew up in, was just snippets of text meant to support the preaching. In liturgical churches, such as the one I attend now, Scripture readings include Old and New Testament texts, a portion of a Psalm and a Gospel text. In both scenarios, the choir rehearsed, but, sadly, the Scripture readers did not.

As a youth I was encouraged to memorize volumes of Scripture. Scripture memory contests were held over several weeks in Sunday School. I am thankful for such a time as many Scripture texts were imbedded in my memory. I recall memorizing texts like Psalm 103. In my twenties, I memorized the Letter of James.

When I attended Moody Bible Institute the curriculum included Old and New testament Survey classes. I had to read the 66 books of the Bible. These courses, along with N.T. Greek, gave me a broad overview of the Scriptures. I have since read through the Bible again and again. But, when I look at the church today, I see that broad overviews and whole book reading of Scriptures have been deconstructed from our worship.

We certainly live in an accommodation culture. Everything, including church, is abbreviated to fit our lifestyle. It seems that we have Twitter-ized Scripture reading down to one-hundred forty characters. Perhaps this is so that we can get out of church on time to watch the football game or to make a lunch commitment. As such, it isn’t any wonder that the church is crawling along on all fours and being fed with droplets of milk. And, man cannot live by the Four Spiritual Laws alone.

Lacking a big picture understanding of what God began in Genesis and is summed up in Revelation (heaven and earth coming together; God making his tabernacle with man) makes a Christian and a church spiritually ineffective and worse, of little value to the kingdom of God. Those who see the big picture use their talents wisely (see Luke 19: 11-27).

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Reading God’s word in public is an act of worship and not a pre-text for a sermon. Reading Scripture – whole book readings- in public offers the listeners a narrative and a context and, better, an eye-opening understanding of what God is doing.

There are many ways to read the Scriptures. Using actors to read the text is one way. Another is to invert the liturgy. Read the whole Gospel of Luke text and insert the elements of the liturgy into the reading. See The Big Read.

Added 5-22-2017:

Here is one example. Recently deceased, British actor Alec Mc Cowan recites the Gospel of Mark in one evening. This can be done in churches, instead of the deconstruction of texts.