WAGING WAR WITH PEN AND TONGUE

As we move closer to the year 2017, what should be our focus and what is the Father corporately speaking? I’m sure that many of us would love to know, but why don’t you know? Maybe, we can start by understanding that although we do not live in the past, the past certainly lives in us individually and culturally in varying degrees. Warfare, conquest, and revenge is a major part of that past and has been a major developer within the cultures of world history. We experience the collective and cultural offspring in our generation today. Wars or battles of conquest have changed languages, economies, moral and social fabrics of entire people groups which continues to manifest and evolve today. These manifestations can be attributed via many mediums such as military, media propaganda, sociopolitical, and even economic within the marketplace.

As a result of man’s propensity to satisfy greed through conquest, the western American hemisphere (where I live) is today a much larger natural and spiritual geography of a European civilization than Europe itself! Even those today in the western hemisphere who may dislike European ideologies express that form of displeasure in European languages and denounce it as immoral by European standards of morality. Ironic? Have we ever really or truly thought about these actions and choices within a prophetic context? The truth is that America ‘had’ to rescue Europe many times such as World War 1 and World War 2 for very specific reasons. This statement is akin to children who still unconditionally love and oddly protect parents whom may even abuse them. Such is the relationship between America and Europe.

The history of conquest and man’s propensity to embrace secular, religious, and spiritual ‘armies’ and references to weaponry is not just about the past (although it has shaped the world’s cultures as I earlier stated) – it’s also very much about the present and the future as it unfolds. Warfare and conquest ultimately speaks to why we have arrived at where we are economically, intellectually, and socially. Likewise, it will define our future as the ultimate revelation.

Humanity in its spiritually unregenerate state is the offspring or first born of warfare/violence and its spirit has continued to grip many hearts (even those who are spiritually redeemed and especially of the prophetic persuasion). The flesh nature of man continually desires to conquer from selfish agenda to even perceived goodness. We need to look no further than much of today’s damning prophecies directed toward mankind within the dispensation of grace and God’s love.

The true picture comes into view that after thousands and thousands of years, mankind is still juvenile and delinquent in its treatment of one another. Greed for earthly treasure which is surely to pass in our short life rules the day as it did in generations past. Humanity’s legacy is stained by the blood of religious zealots, political greed, marketplace greed, and the lust for economic cargo which is forever tied to what is earthly and temporal.

Many have wondered where and how America will be positioned and its relevance in the future as the days unfold. Why is America or the western hemisphere not specifically mentioned in most ancient texts that speak to the prophetic future? The answer may be that America is still Europe extended and the soul-ties have never been broken due to the ‘conquest spirit’ that was inflicted upon native cultures and the soon enslavement of other peoples thereafter? The Revelation of days will unfold for America as it will Europe who birthed her. Essentially, the umbilical cord of mother Europe that nourished the hostile takeover of the Americas was never severed through true and genuine repentance. America is still drinking the mother’s milk and she has never truly asked for forgiveness nor been forgiven.

We must ask ourselves why are the predominate parts or verbiage of prophetic offerings today laced with such militaristic or conquest laded wording such as “army”, “swords”, “battle” continue in the dispensation of grace? I believe that these militaristic messages reveal spiritual importance and are significant as I sought clarity concerning our culture, impact, and heart condition as believers in Christ and how prophecy is meant to reveal the Spirit or mind of Christ. In other words, who are we culturally in regard to identity as a prophetic church? Do we accurately reflect the culture and mandates of the kingdom? What is our true agenda and genuine spirit for this generation and hour? Could we be missing something when we look back at the lack of impact we have had upon humanity as the church? Why has the church lacked impact with such catastrophic results? Are Christians really ready to have their paradigms, dogmas, and spiritual cultures turned inside-out? We continually cry out and seek a paradigm shift or breakthrough from God and desire change…But do we really? The answer is not yet…But we will.

The bible states in Revelation 22: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Much of modern prophecy and its culture is interwoven with words of condemnation, judgement, natural disasters, weaponry, rapture for the “righteous” or elect, self-righteous “set apart ones” and the list goes on and on in declaring the impending doom and wrath for the “sinner”. We should consider if these types of proclamations are essentially “adding to the book” since the Revelation has been declared, determined, and sealed. As a prophetic individual or generation, we can only justify our declarations of ‘judgement’ by stating that we have not added to the “words” of the Revelation as it has been decreed and sealed. To clarify: First, does it really matter? Yes! Doesn’t the words we speak or pen reflect our heart and culture in usurping the position of God in rendering judgement upon another as a supplement to “this prophecy” as stated in scripture? This is interesting since we are all likewise sinners saved by grace. To have received grace ourselves as filthy rags and then to turn and cast judgment upon another(s) via prophecy is questionable and should at least be prayerfully considered. Secondly, the Bible states this directive: “To everyone who hears the words of this prophecy.” It would seem that adding to prophecy through the actual letter or Word was and is not the intent or meaning since the far majority of folks (especially the saved) were not skilled in writing or literate at the time of this inspiration anyway. The warning was clearly directed to “everyone who heard” the prophecy and understood its meaning. In other words, it was not only adding to the canon of scripture that instituted the warning – but adding to it’s intent and purpose in our hearts as well.

Most prophetic utterances of judgement regarding family, people groups, countries, political leaders etc., generate from frustration. This is understandable and hinges upon the wickedness and debauchery of the world today…I get it. Although there are certainly many areas which are tragic in the culture of humanity as a whole, we have actually come a long way in regard to civilization and how we interact with one another (especially across ethnic, social and cultural boundaries). Just a generation ago, the United States was still exhibiting strong elements of racism and prejudice under a warped guise of ‘Christianity’. Native Americans were annihilated under the banner of manifest destiny. Private properties were confiscated under abusive immanent domain and the judicial government under the Hoover years were much more intrusive in spirit.

If we look back from the time of Christ’s burial and resurrection which ushered in the dispensation of grace, we can easily see a trend toward global behavioral and cultural improvement. Slavery and forced labor was common and accepted in all cultures and societies around the world. Human brutality, chronic rape, serfdom, child sacrifice, superstition or mythology, fear mongering, no rights for women, blood revenge, manhood rituals, taxation without representation, despotism, and continual warfare were the norm and expected rather than unexpected on every square mile of dirt on the planet.

How can we as a prophetic generation declare with a clear conscience that the world is so much more evil and wicked than any other time previous in history? This is simply not true and negates the authenticity of the prophecy at its conception and inception. Sin still ravages the world, but this is to be expected as long as souls encased in flesh and bone walks upon it! However, we have a choice to make moving forward in regard to how the prophetic voice (the Spirit of Christ) views the world, views its people, and how it translates the purpose and power of the cross.

The sacrifice and power of the cross must not be declared as having “no effect.” It is still active, powerful and cuts to the core of soul and spirit. As Ambassadors of Christ, the same mighty power to affect others resides in us as believers. But yet, many prophesy and declare judgement and disaster upon humanity and geographies because we fail to see results in our frustration. The core problem is that we have created a vicious cycle of judgement and plagues upon ourselves because we have not heeded the warning in Revelation 22 and have “added to these prophecies” in casting retribution upon others no different than ourselves – except that we have been saved and transformed by grace and not of our own merit. Many easily declare that the hearts and intentions of others will be revealed…But do we want ours revealed for all to see as well? Self-righteousness is the seed-bed which easily grows full bloom into pride and spiritual arrogance.

Man’s seeking for judgement upon another man rather than justice tempered with mercy always develops into a cycle of retribution. We can clearly see through history to the present day that if a wrong is committed against a certain individual – that individual will usually desire equal or oftentimes a more severe punishment than the crime committed against them. We know this as punitive nature which is ingrained in the flesh of man. This spirals out of control not only at the personal level, but at societal and national levels as well. These are the punitive retributions that most wars are made of. Humanity’s impulse and propensity for others to pay dearly for their crimes is an overwhelming one which we must take note of and wonder if it has affected our persona and culture (spiritually as much as naturally)?

The good news is that we can rest in Christ because we know that we serve a Lord and God who will make all things right at the end. This has been the overarching power that has held mankind back from destroying itself generations ago. The judgement and justice of God is awesome in both power and intense love. We see this attribute exhibited in the redeemed man in that we can possess wrath and anger not in spite, but because we love so deeply. Anger is not the opposite of love. Hate is. The final form of hate is indifference which many prophetic offerings sadly possess.

God’s wrath is not a mean explosion, but His intense opposition to the spiritual cancer which is eating out the insides of the human race which He loves with his whole being. If I don’t believe that there is a God who will eventually put all things right and in order, my flesh will take up the sword and will be sucked into the endless vortex of retaliation. Only if I am sure that there is a God who will right all wrongs and settle all accounts perfectly do I have the power to refrain. This not only includes physical violence, but the violence we declare from our words that so easily roll off our tongues which may be the the most powerful weapon of all…

We don’t need to judge and condemn the world, our countries, our societies, political leaders and others. They are already judging themselves in knowingly rejecting His grace and love. Our position is to proclaim truth in the spirit of faith, hope, and love. Our ‘culture’ is to extend love and hope in bringing them to faith in Christ in 2017.

THE QUEST TO JUSTIFY OUR BELIEFS

I will start by stating that all of us possess an ‘internal press secretary’ or ‘moral lawyer’ that justifies just about everything including our words and actions. This article will just scratch the surface on the topic of personal and social beliefs, yet try to gain some clarity on the ever increasing polarization of beliefs of the current age and generation. After all, is there really absolute truth? Or, is everything a shade of gray and left to individual opinion? Is their political correctness that is actually ‘correct’ in the grand scheme of things? I often wonder what molds our beliefs and what we choose to embrace. I often wonder why folks are so dead set against changing their beliefs – even when the evidence supports a change.

If you want to see justification in action just watch and listen to a western culture press secretary take questions from media reporters. No matter how bad the policy is to a majority populace, the press secretary will always find some way to praise or defend it. Reporters will naturally challenge assertions and bring up contradictory quotes from politicians or even straight from the press secretary themselves on previous days. Sometimes you will hear and observe an awkward pause or moment as the secretary searches for the right words. But what you will never hear is obvious and intriguing – “Hey, that’s a great point, maybe we should rethink or re-vote this policy.” The truth is that press secretaries cannot say such things because they have no power to make or revise policy. They’re told what the policy is and their job is to find evidence and arguments that will justify the policy to a naive public. The truth is that we all have a full-time press secretary justifying our positions and beliefs on such topics as morality, spirituality, abortion, various prejudices, social politics, social behaviors, etc. The soulish ‘press secretary’ or ‘lawyer’ operates at the personal, social, cultural levels and ultimately manifests as a national conscious when it gains majority rule.

Let’s take the well known 2 – 4 – 6 (Two-Four-Six) problem often discussed in moral psychology circles as an example to lay a foundation of what I hope to expound upon in regard to our belief systems and most often unwillingness to embrace greater or absolute truth. After all, if there is no such thing as absolute truth – does ‘truth’ even have genuine meaning…Even when it smacks us in the face? Let’s say that I show a group of people a series of 3 numbers and explained to them that a sequence of a ‘triplet’ conformed to a specific rule. In other words, they have to guess the rule by generating other triplets and then asking me whether the new triplet conformed to the specific rule. When subjects were confident that they had guessed the rule, they are supposed to tell me their answer or conclusion. Let’s suppose that one of these people first sees the numbers 2, 4, 6. And let’s say that that person then generates a triplet in response: “4, 6, 8?” I would answer “yes.” How about “120, 122, 124?” I would again answer: “Yes.” It would seem obvious to most people that the rule was – consecutive even numbers. But let’s say that I told the subjects that this was a wrong answer in regard to the rule. So they tested other rules such as “3, 5, 7?” Likewise, I will respond: “yes!” What about “35, 37, 39?” I would once again respond “Yes!” Okay, so the rule must be any series of numbers that rises by 2? I would again say “no” in regard to what the correct rule is.

The people in this experiment had little trouble generating new hypotheses about the rule. Sometimes quite complex ones. But what they hardly ever did was to test their hypotheses by offering triplets that did not conform to their natural hypothesis or reasoning. For example, proposing 2, 4, 5 (yes) and 2, 4, 3 (no) would have helped people zero in on the actual rule which is any series of ascending numbers. What we see in this mind-game experiment and outworking of human nature is known as the Confirmation Bias. This type of bias is the human tendency to seek out and interpret new evidence in ways that confirm what you already think and believe. People are quite good at challenging statements made by other people. However, if it’s your personal belief we’re confronting, then it’s your possession – kind of like your inner child and you want protect it rather than having it challenged or heaven forbid – even losing it!

Let’s paint a picture in our mind and take a set of 8 cards each of which shows a cartoon image of a child eating a cake. The cards will reflect whether it’s good for the child or bad for the child. Let’s create in our minds an example of eating a chocolate cake verses eating a sugar free carrot cake and then the effects of what happened to the child afterward. The children pictured in the card are either smiling (feeling good) or frowning (looking sick). I show the cards one at a time to children and adults and ask them to answer whether the evidence (the 8 cards) suggested which cake made the kids sick? The kids as well as the adults usually started off with a hunch due to prior conditioning. In this case, the chocolate cake is the more likely culprit. The subjects usually concluded that the evidence (the 8 cards) proved them right. The point is that even when the cards showed a stronger association of carrot cake  correlating to sickness – people still pointed to the one or two cards with sick chocolate cake eaters as evidence for their theory or belief and they ignored the larger number of cards that incriminated carrot cake. My conclusion and opinion is that people seem to say or convince themselves: “Here is some evidence that I point to in supporting my theory and therefore my theory is right.” Even when the hard facts state otherwise.

Researcher David Perkins brought people of various age and education levels into his lab and asked them to think about social issues such as whether giving schools more money would improve the quality of teaching and learning. He first asked the subjects to write down their initial judgment concerning the stated question (would more money improve quality of teaching and learning). Then he asked them to think about the issue for time and write down all the reasons they could think of on either side that were relevant to reaching a final answer or conclusion. After they were done, Perkins scored each  individual’s reasons they wrote as either a ‘my side’ argument or an ‘other side’ argument. Not surprisingly, people came up with many more my side arguments than other side arguments. Also not surprisingly, the more education that the subjects had, the more reasons they came up with. But when Perkins compared 4th year students in high school, college or graduate school to 1st year students in those same schools – he found barely any improvement within each school in regard to the overwhelming my side reasoning. The high school students that generate a lot of arguments are the ones who are likely to go on to college. And the college students who generate a lot of arguments are the ones who are more likely to go on to graduate school etc.

The bottom line is that schools don’t teach people to reason thoroughly – they select the students or applicants with higher IQ’s and people with higher IQ’s are able to generate more ‘reasons’. Research has also indicated by a large degree that IQ was the biggest predictor of how well people argued or formulated an argument or reason. However, these findings only predicted the number of my side arguments. Smart people (per IQ standards) make really good lawyers and press secretaries but they are no better than others of finding reasons on or for the other side. I believe and conclude that people invest their IQ in buttressing their own case or my side rather than exploring the entire range of issues, events and purposes for life more fully and evenhandedly.

When you ask people about triplets of digits, cakes and illnesses and even school funding – people have rapid, automatic and intuitive reactions. In other words, one side of the reasoning looks more attractive than the other through prior conditioning. We grow evermore talented and able to find supporting evidence and go to great lengths to ensure that we succeed in regard to our reasoning. This is how the press secretary we see on television works on trivial issues where there is no motivation to support one side or the other. If thinking is confirmatory rather than exploratory in these few dry, generic and easy cases that I just presented – then what chance is there that people will think in an open-minded or exploratory way when self-interest, social identity and strong emotions make or even need to reach a life saving or eternal conclusion? Eternal significance is wrapped in the gift of exploration. Bondage is attractively wrapped in the skin of self and a insignificant life. Why would life have significance if this is all that there is and we simply check out? It is within this conditioned mind that lying to self and others spreads like a social virus killing the hope of eternal life (life after death) as taught by Christ.

The truth is that we lie, cheat and justify so well that we honestly believe that we are honest. For instance, in the U.K. members of parliament have long been allowed to bill taxpayers for their ‘reasonable expense’ of maintaining a second home given that they are required to spend time in both London and in their home districts. But because the office responsible for deciding what was reasonable approved nearly every request – members of Parliament treated it like a big ole fat blank check. And because their expenses were hidden from the public, members essentially acted like they were wearing the Ring of Gyges until a newspaper printed a leaked copy of those expense claims in 2009. (The Ring of Gyges is a mythical magical artifact mentioned by the philosopher Plato in book 2 of his Republic that made one invisible)

Predictably, these members behaved terribly selfish and self-serving. Many members claimed their second home to be which ever one was due for major and lavish renovations – including even dredging the moats. When the renovations were completed, they simply re-designated their primary home as their secondary and renovated that one too! Oftentimes selling the renovated home for a huge profit.

Late night comedians must be resoundingly grateful for the never ending stream of scandals coming out of Washington, London and as a matter of fact – just about every other center of social and political government on the planet. However, are We the People any better than our elected leaders? Or should we first look for the logs that are in our own eyes? Does a societal populace truly deserve its leaders (You’ve got what you allowed, asked or voted for and now you ultimately deserve it)? Does an elected leader merely reflect the soul of the population? These questions are not all inclusive nor black and white – but they must be considered as the current global and cultural age unfolds with its technology to reach out and touch. Many researchers have studied the aspects and affects of what is termed ‘plausible deny-ability’. In one such study, subjects performed a task and were then given a slip of paper designating payment and a verbal confirmation of how much they were to be paid. But when they took the slip to another room to get their money, the cashier purposely misread one digit and handed them too much money. Only 20% spoke up and corrected the mistake. But the whole story and dynamic changed when the cashier simply asked them if the payment was correct. In that case, 70% said no and returned the extra money. Simply being asked directly removed a large element of plausible deny-ability. It would have taken a direct lie to keep the money upon being asked if the amount was correct. As a result of being asked, people are over three times more likely to be honest. The catch is that we can’t predict who will return the money based on how people rate their own honesty nor how well they’re able to respond within a moral dilemma.

The human nature of the unregenerate soul is unpredictable in honesty and very predictable in lying to others and oneself. The flesh is so ingrained to lie that we will even lie without words. We lie unconsciously by body language when we nod yes or no simply to avoid confrontation. This points to our conscious soul which correlates to our moral reasoning and our ethical behavior. Deep down within us is a fallen man that will serve self on all fronts and behind many masks…Even the mask of silence which is just as terrifyingly powerful. Even the people whom we recognize as nice and giving possess the varying degrees of the bondage of self preservation and greed.

Sub-layered within these questions and dynamics, humanity presents itself as predictably irrational. A group of participants given the opportunity to earn more money by claiming to have solved more math problems than they really did summarizes this statement:  The summary of these real life results concluded that when given the opportunity, many honest people will cheat. In fact, rather than finding that a few bad apples weighted or tilted the averages; the discovery is that the far majority of people cheated and that they cheated just a “little bit”. People didn’t try to get away with as much as they could. Rather, when the participants were given the invisibility of the “Ring of Gyges”- they cheated only up to point where they themselves could no longer find a justification that could preserve their own belief within their own terms of honesty. The bottom line is that in studies where people are given invisibility combined with plausible deny-ability – most people will cheat which is essentially what we call lying or being a liar.

Our individual press secretaries also known as our inner-lawyers as previously stated, are so good at finding justifications that most of these subject cheaters leave the social experiments as convinced of their virtue as they were when they walked in. My personal conclusion is that carnal based reasoning and Google can take you wherever you want to go! We can take for example my daughter Arielle who is 8 years old and recognize that she is somewhat allergic to the word “must.” As a matter of fact, all of us are to some degree. When I tell her that she ‘must’ get her pajamas on so we can ramp down for the evening, she oftentimes cracks a scowl with crossed arms as to object my direction. The word “must” is a little verbal and psychological handcuff that triggers in her the desire to squirm free. On the other hand, the word “can” is so much nicer such as “can you put your pajamas on so we relax and slow down before bed?”

To be certain that these two words are really night and day to our carnal man, I conducted my own little experiment. I said to my daughter after supper tonight, “You must eat a mint patty.” (which Arielle loves). The reply was quickly, “No, I don’t want one.” Just a few minutes later I stated – “Arielle, you can have mint patty…” Just as quickly, “Yeah, I want one.” The difference between ‘can’ and ‘must’ is the key to understanding the profound effects of self-interest on reasoning and why people reject the words that Christ taught and likewise embrace dreadful  and self-destroying behaviors. It’s also the key to understanding many of the strangest and fringe beliefs such as UFO abduction, quack medical treatments, conspiracy theories, odd religious traditions, abortion as ‘normal’ while we stumble a few years within the eternal gift and power of life itself, and the list goes on and on.

The embracing of strange and ungodly beliefs reflect a simple formulation in that when we want to believe something, we ask ourselves, “Can I believe it?” We then search for supporting evidence and if we find even a single piece of pseudo evidence, we can stop thinking and reasoning. At this point we now have permission to believe and we have a justification in case anyone asks. In contrast, when we don’t want to believe something, we ask ourselves, “Must I believe it?” Then we search for contrary evidence and if we find a single reason or smallest shred to doubt to the claim – we can easily dismiss it. We only need one single key to unlock the handcuffs of “Must.” This is the prime indicator of why the beautiful logic of the 10 Commandments have become such a rock of offense to the unbeliever…Or. should I say, those fail to believe in the power of Life and its ability to transcend the death of mere flesh.

Now that we all have access to search engines on our smart phones, we can simply call up a team of supporting backers for almost any conclusion 24 hours a day. Whatever you want to believe concerning the causes of anything in life including faith, atheism, creation, evolution, and whether a baby in the womb can feel pain – just Google your belief and I promise that you’ll find partisan websites summarizing and validating “my side” or should I say “your side” along with distorting and damning the “other side.” Faith has now become a interfaith smorgasbord and Google will find a belief that is just right for you! After all, there’s just too much must in following the words and wisdom of that man named Jesus…