I don't work.
For everyone who wonders what I "do", about why I won't "do" something, I'm now going to tell you what I "do", and you are not going to like it.
By June 2011, I was homeless in Hawaii, seeking direction in my life, and I prayed to God for guidance about what to do next.
He sent me to Alaska.
Here's how it works.
I prayed first for guidance, then I prayed for dreams. I prayed with a small group of Christians for dreams, with two of us specifically asking for dreams, and I had dreams about Alaska. In one dream I was in a hilly, wooded town that I was told in the dream was Juneau. In another dream, I was in an airplane taking off. I added it all up and bought a plane ticket to Juneau, Alaska on my credit card with no idea how to pay for it.
I got on the plane with no money, knowing nobody in Alaska, and no idea what I would do when I got there. It was a red-eye, and as I sat in my darkened seat that night, the thought came to me that I would be preaching in Alaska.
Preaching? I don't preach.
I arrived in Juneau on July 22, 2011 and slept the first week at the Glory Hole, the downtown homeless shelter. They threw me out over some stupid thing, and after a cold night spent out in the Juneau rain I met a retired math teacher at a church breakfast who gave me money for two nights at the local youth hostel. On my last morning there, I met a vacationing psychiatrist who befriended me and gave me a sleeping bag, a bevy, and a tarp. With these I set up a campsite on Mount Roberts, behind the city, a short hike up from the old mining road. Many a night I laid there after my prayers, listening to the creek murmuring below and the rain pattering on the tarp.
By mid-August I understood that yes, I am called to preach. How do I know this?
I do not know. I can only discern.
See, I've committed my life to serve God. I pray for guidance, maybe no more than the Lord's prayer, "thy will be done", every night. I have an idea - how about preaching some sermons down the way in Juneau? OK, so I've got an idea, but it could just be some goofy thing floating around my head. Need to pray about it. I now take that specific idea in repeated prayer requests to God spread over days. I start to really become convinced that I should do this, that it's OK with God. I start getting equipment together, I talk to people in city hall about electricity and permits. Now I'm really going to do it.
I set a date. I want to avoid September 11. I want to avoid preaching my first sermon on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
It doesn't work. I get up one Sunday morning with all of the batteries dead except one little audio recorder that's still on Hawaiian time, but I don't know that! I hear Juneau's bells ringing, but don't really count them! I'm late for everything! I don't give the speech on August 29. Nope, looks like 9/11. I was wrong. That's discernment, too.
A friend sent me some money that I used to buy a small portable sound system. On the evening of September 7th, I spent an hour at the Catholic church, on my knees in prayer, asking to be guided by God on the whole thing, along with one last crucial point - should I point the speaker out over the ocean as the government required?
On September 11th, I went down to Juneau Marine Park at noon, the announced time for my speech. Yet I did not speak. One o'clock came and went. Two o'clock came and went. Three o'clock! Finally, trembling with trepidation, I turned on the speaker and pointed it toward the city. I whined and cried, begging God for the strength to throw the switch, but once I got started, I was fine!
I kept preaching. Nobody came to hear me, but I kept preaching every Sunday all through September. I even managed to begin starting my sermons on time, without all of the crying into the microphone with the switch off. I preached, with the volume on full and no questions taken afterward at the Juneau Empire, the local daily. I don't have a very good relationship with the press. That's an interesting sermon. I pretty much passed judgment on myself that day:
I tried! I tried! A huge whirlwind storm formed and blew threw the trumpet and gave it great power! But I held it in my hand too long while gazing around, then the wind came up and roared through it while I tried to pull it back, then it ripped to pieces before my eyes and the Lord held me still while I beheld the enemy taking the keep!
I moved indoors in October, preaching in the local churches, whether they wanted me to or not. By this I mean that I just stood up at the end of the service, during announcements, and preached for five or ten minutes. No, I'm not a very popular guy.
Then I was called to leave Juneau. How, do you ask? The usual. Discernment. I prayed repeatedly for guidance, because my ministry didn't seem to be going very well. Nobody was listening; I had probably ticked off more people than I'd inspired.
I went to a Wednesday noon mass, as usual, at the local Episcopal Church, Holy Trinity, and left convinced that I was called to travel further into Alaska and keep preaching. But travel where?
I had been living in Juneau for four months, but had never visited either of Alaska's other major cities: Anchorage and Fairbanks. I bought another credit card plane ticket (my mother ended up paying for all of this) to Fairbanks. It was a two week advance purchase, though, and the flight transferred through Anchorage, so I could still go there.
I had to decide: Anchorage or Fairbanks?
I prayed, of course. Then one evening I met a palm reader.
A palm reader?
Sounds occult. I don't do palm readers.
She says that she's Catholic, prays to God, hangs a crucifix on the wall. She holds people's hands, casually, while standing in front of you, and tells them what God shows her. She reads me and tells me Anchorage.
From a palm reader?
Here's what I didn't do. I didn't test it. I didn't take it back to God and ask if it's from Him. What if she was telling the truth about everything? I never asked. I never asked her about her gifts and vocation, about her prayer life. Somebody else described her as a palm reader, not her, and not God.
I toyed with it... palm reader?... and discarded it. I flew to Anchorage on November 2, and then took the next flight to Fairbanks. I figured that I would check out Fairbanks, then travel down to Anchorage.
I'd just blown a crucial discernment on the biggest religious call of my life. How did this disaster unfold? I'd never before met anyone with a prophetic gift, at least not that I know of! I've met plenty of frauds, though! As I'll explain later, we have a massive sham religion in this country. So although I understood clearly that God was in charge, I'd become very self-reliant in my vocation. I didn't really trust anyone else to help with my discernment.
I'd also developed a bad spirit of preaching against this country. The watchman in Ezekiel 33 is called to warn the wicked, to save their lives, not to condemn them. This Old Testament prophet, sent to an "obstinate and stubborn" people, foreshadowed the loving spirit of Christ, in a way made even clearer in Ezekiel 3:
I slept the first week of November at the homeless shelter in Fairbanks, preached a bit at the University of Alaska, and then I joined Occupy.
I'd read about Occupy on the news, but hadn't paid it much attention until I walked into Veteran's Memorial Park one afternoon, met some of the occupiers camped out on the gazebo in sub-zero weather, talked with them for a while and joined up.
It was obviously a political opposition forming and it was just the right timing for a political campaign - a little more than a year in advance of the elections.
So we occupied. (I was called to preach) We dug into a camp at -20F, sat around a tent huddled by a fire to drive out the bitter cold and talked about the problems facing the nation. We read about what was happening elsewhere in the country on the Internet, but we didn't have any television. I couldn't get the General Assembly to pray at the start of each meeting, and they wouldn't endorse my Sunday sermons, so I stopped preaching them. (Fatal)
I had a mental disconnect between the newspaper stories of SWAT teams eliminating Occupy camps and the peaceful political demonstration that I was part of. There was no way, after Tienanmen Square, that the government would use the police to break up a political demonstration. The media would never let them get away with it.
Occupy seemed to be going fine. (That was the problem) Plenty of reporters came through the camp, but I rarely talked to them. After all, the election was over a year away, so we had plenty of time to hammer out positions before making speeches. As late as Thanksgiving, I was invited to dinner at the home of a local liberal, was asked to speak, which I did, and was warmly applauded for introducing a spiritual element into Occupy!
Thanksgiving! Remember what was happening to Occupy at Thanksgiving! While I was being cheered for its spiritual side!
There were other indications of trouble, but I was oblivious. On November 6th, a woman had a vision about me after I had finished preaching at a local church. She saw me in an hourglass, trying to pass through the neck. Hmmm. Hourglass. Sand running through it. I'm in it, too. Didn't know what it meant. (I do now) Again, I didn't take it seriously enough. I didn't ask God to explain it.
In early December, I decided that Fairbanks was OK, so I went down to Anchorage, to see how Occupy was fairing there. I arrived just in time to see John Martin thrown out. (disaster) But I had no clue, because I had never met John! He was thrown out of Occupy the very night that I arrived in Anchorage, while I waived vague discontent with my hands instead of John and I throwing the rest of them out together. Later that evening I met John for the first time with a delegation that handed him his walking papers.
I had never met him, but I certainly had heard of him! His affair at age 23 with his then 15-year-old adopted daughter had been plastered all over Alaskan headlines for months. Homeless like me, and for the same basic reasons, he had been camped out for months in front of City Hall on the corner of Sixth and G, six floors straight down from the Mayor's office. He's against Dan Sullivan's government, particularly its homeless policy. The government bans free camping anywhere in the Municipality of Anchorage (a sprawling metropolis), including its many parks. CAP, a special police task force, evicts the homeless during the winter by simply confiscating all of their gear! It's Anchorage! In the winter! They have no choice, then, but to go to overcrowed shelters like St. Francis.
So John was gone, but continued occupying! He had been called by God to occupy, after all! He had his camp below Dan Sullivan's office, and Occupy had theirs a block away. He kept occupying, but I didn't start preaching right away. (sigh)
It became clear that we were in trouble. I joined the Port protest on December 11, but did not speak, willing to obverse and plan. It just didn't seem like the right time to start speaking. (it wasn't)
In January, I starting preaching again. I was interviewed at the Occupy site and on KYUR 13's Alaska Political Insider, but then nothing. No one would show up at my speeches, not the media and certainly not my own movement. I did a radio interview, too.
I soldiered on. I kept preaching, prayed for Occupy, discussed and abandoned several ideas, most notably disrupting Iditarod 40, then finally latched on to one that I liked. It only required a few people, should have been effective in regaining momentum, and seemed acceptable to God. We would occupy a news studio in February or March.
I figured that a dozen people could barricade themselves in the studio and demand to make a nationally televised speech. If we blocked the doors and refused to leave for a few days, I hoped that the media would have caved in and let me make the speech. At that point, a political nuclear strike seemed to be required; in the speech, I would have called for Alaskan secession and independence if America did not abandon her current course of leadership. In retrospect, I didn't even need it to be nationally televised. An all-Alaska audience was perfectly adequate and quite doable. Even if the premise was extreme, a really good speech might have gotten the whole thing moving again.
That never happened. The Occupy Anchorage direct action committee shot it down. They simply would not do it. After all of their fiery rhetoric justifying violent solutions to our most pressing problems, they would not occupy a news studio. I'm not blaming them; I'm just pointing out what kinds of people had come to dominate Occupy. They want freedom; I understand. They want to do their own thing; I do too. I want to do my own thing; they wouldn't help. I had become the enemy. They'd heard all of my Chrisitan talk and didn't want to hear any more. Didn't want to hear it on TV, either. They had control of our own movement, had run it into the ground, and wouldn't give it back. I needed their help to ditch them from the leadership, and they wouldn't let go.
I wouldn't have worked. It might have worked, sort of. I had checked it out with God. I had discerned it, all by myself, walking around for an hour in the snow in the garden of saints outside the Catholic church and muttering to myself, but I couldn't do it alone. (Huge) The movement appeared savable as late as March, but it required the remnants of the movement to actually do something, and the remnants of the movement were all Anarchist. Even if the studio occupation had worked, the Anarchists would still be right there at the top, which is totally unacceptable, though it seemed OK at the time.
Are you an athiest? Can you do discernment? Can you figure out which state to fly to? When to start giving speeches? Whether to go to Anchorage or Fairbanks?
I can't. I try it and screw it up. I know you can't because you're atheists. There's no way that you can be given key leadership positions. You can't discern. You're not really poor. You don't work for God. I needed to throw you out immediately, and instead I showed up late enough and tolerated you long enough that I had to beg admission to get back in.
The campaign plowed on without me. I occupied more with John. I went back up to Fairbanks. I tried to commit suicide. I worked on some computer software. I put on a robe and did some street preaching, paying scant attention to the campaign.
Then Christopher Stevens was assassinated on 9/11, the eleventh anniversary of the terror attacks, the first anniversary of my first sermon!
Christopher Stevens was a super-diplomat who had slyly run Obama's diplomacy when America conquered Libya. First he was ambassador to Quadaffi's Libya, then when Obama backed the rebels he switched sides and became ambassador to the rebels, and then smoothly transitioned back into his old job as ambassador to the new Libya. This diplomatic two step allowed Obama to avoid using American ground troops in Libya.
His assassination in Bengazi was then followed by one of the most massive cover-ups ever seen in American history! Nobody could seem to explain what had happened! First some idiotic video tape was flown as a false flag for something like two weeks, then a massive witchhunt ensued to expose some supposed government cover-up. Meanwhile, a massive media cover-up raged on top of the supposed government cover-up.
A coverup of what?
Of admitting the link between "Obama conquered Libya" and "Chris Stevens was assassinated", because that would confound the sham opposition hypothesis that Obama is soft on the Middle East! This is what Bill O'Reilly preached to millions on Fox News Network! The man conquered another Arab country and he's soft! Unbelievable!
And if there really was a government coverup, a concerted attempt by the current administration to plant the video tape story, then we now have two massive coverups, both government and media, on the same story!
Finally, the race ran to its predictable outcome. The lame half-opposition limped to the finish line, prepared only a victory speech, then meekly handed the crown to the champion and vanished. Maybe it wasn't really there at all.
I blamed everyone for Occupy. I blamed the media. I blamed the atheists. I blamed Obama. I blamed the majority. I blamed everyone but myself and then I went on. What else could I do?
God let me wonder and wander for a bit. Should I get a job? Let's see, don't know what else to do, let's apply for a job... (really?)
You've got a job. You're a Disciple of Chirst. God is your boss. Always will be.
I got two job hits. Hmmm... go be a schoolteacher? Checked 'em out with God. Neither one worked out. (surprise)
Defect to China? Seriously! He let me consider that for a while, maybe the Chinese would let me be a propaganda tool at least...
I had tried everything that I could think of to claw back into the election and failed. It's impossible! It's truly impossible for one devout man to break into the American political scene! Why? Because we're poor! The only way politics works for a disciple is through a miracle!
This book's key inspiration - that the whole fault for this thing is mine and that I know just how it happened - did not come until a week after election day. It required discernment, of course. It required two disciples praying a joint prayer, out loud, together, that I see the state of my ministry with laser-like clarity. A week after the election, I did.
On November 13, 2012, I knelt on the floor and confessed before God, as I now confess before you, my fellow Americans, that I bear sole personal responsibility for the absolute debacle of Occupy. This political movement was also a crucial ministry that was to preach the Christian gospel to this nation. It failed at that completely, and although many people share the responsibility for that failure, the fault is principally mine because the Lord gave me everything that I needed to overcome those obstacles and I bungled it.
Why did He tell me that? Why tell someone that he's just blown the biggest play of his life? Why aren't prayers answered? Would it be more merciful not to? And what was I called to preach?
What is the gospel of Occupy?
Any warning directed against America has to begin with a frank discussion of capitalism. I've already quoted my September 11th sermon, which neatly summarizes the Christian case against this wicked philosophy. So, when a beggar comes up to you on the street and asks you for money, you give him some if you have it. Is this being taken out of context?
The discourse in Mathew is the most famous; it's called the Sermon on the Mount because we're told at the beginning of Matthew 5 that Jesus went up on a mountain. In Luke 6:17 we're told that he stood on a level spot and preached; it's called the Sermon on the Plain. These are two different sermons! The content is mostly the same because Jesus preached for three and a half years, yet all four Gospels can be read in a day. He preached the same message over and over, in different times and in different places, and the evangelists who wrote the Gospels recorded a respective sample of his teachings. Nearly identical passages like Matthew 5:42 and Luke 6:30 should not be taken as meaningless repetition; the fact that they echo each other so closely serves to reinforce their importance, as does repetition of the same concepts in completely different contexts:
What happens at McDonald's is immoral. When a Christian walks in the door and asks for a hamburger, you had better not be the guy behind the counter who turns him away because he has no money. Perhaps you can direct him to a nearby soup kitchen, or pay for the burger yourself, but indifference is simply not acceptable. Read the passage again. Does it matter whether somebody fed him later?
How do we eat, then? Who provides the hamburgers if we just give them away for free?
"That I may test them!" God will provide! If we are obedient! If we will walk in his law! For Christians, Matthew 5, Luke 6, Luke 12, Matthew 25 are all part of the law!
Scripture abounds with stories of miraculous feeding. "Give us this day our daily bread" was never made more real than when...
Still, aren't I taking all of this out of context? We can't make bread and fish appear out thin air like Christ! We have to be good stewards, right? We can't just give all of our money away, can we? Actually, a better question to ask is whether we can afford not to.
A common objection to a literal interpretation of this passage is that Jesus intended this teaching for a particular young man, not as a generic commandment applicable to all disciples. This doesn't withstand careful scrutiny, though, because we find a very similar instruction again in a completely different context:
Not only are we again told to sell our possessions and give to the poor, not only is it now the disciples themselves being exhorted rather than a rich hanger-on, but at the beginning of this passage, we find exhortations against work! The birds do not work, but God feeds them! The lilies do not work, but God clothes them!
Here we begin to see the Christian work ethic! After becoming disciples, we are to live according the Gospel and that means putting God in charge. We are not called to be slackers, although this world will call us that because they measure the entire value of a human being in how much money you've got.
Many people suppose that Christ worked as a carpenter. Not only is this unsupported by any Scripture, but one wonders how Christ could have done this consistent with his own teachings. Clearly, he did not work for money, only for God, did not turn away anyone asking for food, drink, shelter or clothing, gave what he had to the poor, and trusted in God to provide for his needs. Nowhere in any account are we told that he had any kind of job. In fact, he was homeless (Mat 8:20) and penniless (Mat 17:24-27). Furthermore, while we have no records of how Jesus lived before his ministry, we most certainly have records of how his disciples lived after it!
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. From from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostle's feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
What good does it do, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not prove it with actions? This kind of faith cannot save him, can it? Suppose a brother or sister does not have any clothes or daily food and one of you tells them, "Go in peace! Stay warm and eat heartily." If you do not provide for their bodily needs, what good does it do? In the same way, faith by itself, if it does not prove itself with actions, is dead.
Christians need to take a different perspective. It isn't enough to just get a job. We need to do the work that we are called to by God. This doesn't mean sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. We have God-given talents that enable us to be productive members of society. Although I am grateful to my friends and supporters for providing me with food, shelter, clothing, a computer and electricity, I absolutely hate sitting around this house typing on this machine all day. I'm a really good math teacher, and there's no good reason why I shouldn't be teaching during the day and writing for a few hours every evening. Instead, I live in a country that tells me to go flip hamburgers until I've purchased a college degree. I'm not too proud to flip hamburgers, either. I'll do it for a soup kitchen, but not for a business that refuses to feed people unless they have money.
God provides for our needs, both as individuals and as a society. We have plenty of math and science teachers, it's the administration of our schools that refuses to use them unless they jump through hoops with a price tag on each one. We have ample energy reserves, and talented scientists who will develop new ones as current supplies are depleted, but those scientists can't get funding without a business plan to patent and exploit new technologies for profit. We have immigrants lined up at our borders willing to do almost any job we would ask of them. We have plenty of farmers, fisherman, doctors, policeman, fire fighters, EMTs, machinists, chemists, computer programmers, web designers, airline pilots and journalists, not to mention artists, musicians, actors, and athletes. There's no need for some economic system, either capitalist or communist, to regulate all human behavior, if we will simply live in obedience to God.
What would such a society look like? Our churches would be left unlocked, and most people would begin their day with worship. Anyone who wanted food or clothing, tools or transportation, would just need to ask for it, no money required. All the books in our libraries would scanned in, freely available to anyone who wants to read them on-line. Why would people give freely like that? Because we're all disciples, we're all working for God, and even if we fumble around and make some mistakes, we know that we're all working for the same boss. Jesus called it the kingdom of God.
The choice is not between capitalism and communism. Both philosophies postulate the need for human behavior to be regulated, either by the government or by the marketplace. Both force you to work for a system, and that means doing what you're told. Both proclaim that anyone who isn't working for the system is a deadbeat. You don't do the work you want to do. You don't do the work you're qualified to do. You don't do what you're called to by God. You do what you're told.
How did we get here? People want freedom, but they don't want the Gospel. Nobody tells them what to do; no God, and no government. You can give all your money away, it's your choice. You have freedom; I have freedom. Don't tell me what to do. People who won't work for money are cast out and treated with contempt. They're accused of being "too proud" to work, and despite all our rhetoric of individual freedom, this society is absolutely determined to break the individual and force him to submit. Its favorite tactic is throw you homeless on the streets and ignore you.
You want freedom. You want to work for yourselves. In fact, you spend forty hours a week, the best fifty years of your life, working for a system. You give up on freedom by the time you're thirty, and if you won't give it up voluntarily, then you get crushed. You start talking about getting married and having a family, about how you aren't going to work so hard and make time for your kids instead. Now you just show up at your job, do what you have to do, and pin all your hopes on raising the next generation to have it better than you did. You'll pamper them until they're twenty, then get sick of them asking for money all of the time. The reason they keep asking you for money is because they want all that freedom you promised them, and they're old enough now to want it for themselves and not you. They don't dress up in cute little soccer uniforms now, they don't play catch in the yard, it isn't cool to hang out with Mom and Dad anymore. They want their own apartment now, and money for food and games and sex and drugs. So you switch to "tough love", break them by the time they're thirty, celebrate their birthdays and weddings and graduations if they'll cave, and shake your head and wonder what you did wrong if they end up smoking crack and sleeping under a bridge instead.
You're not raising them to be better. It's a vicious cycle, and you're raising them to be just the same. Some break, some waste away, some riot in the streets and scream for freedom. Hard core Christian disciples won't work for the system, either, but it's not because of pride, or a misplaced conception of freedom. It's because the system is immoral, and we work for God.
Then let God take care of us?
God does take care of us.
Every society develops a state religion, and America is no exception. By this I mean a philosophy that postulates that a society is basically moral, that our leadership is basically just. Sometimes, a state religion is a church endorsed by the government, but not always. Even atheist societies like China develop a state religion, in this broad sense of the term.
America's state religion is called "Christianity" and "Christianity" is largely a sham, because American society is corrupt, so its state religion must also be corrupt.
That sounds pretty harsh, and it is, but the truth must be told. It's very hard to forgive your enemies, but forgiveness does not mean allowing a fraud to be perpetuated because the truth is harsh.
I've met Christians that I respect, mostly here in Alaska, but overall they are the exception, not the rule. John Martin has taught me how to be a better disciple, and the prophetesses in Juneau and Fairbanks have genuine spiritual gifts. The Lord is working through a pastor here in Fairbanks to help me write this book. I've worshiped in churches that I feel are genuine, but most of them simply mouth the words of Jesus, and all of them seem harbor some element of hypocrisy. Most Christians are content to be believers without being disciples; it's easier that way.
In Hawaii, I was running out of money while finishing my first book. I solicited aid from three local Christian churches, two of which I had supported with my tithe. All turned me down, one way or another. My favorite rejection came from an assistant pastor who sarcastically asked me "How about a job?" I replied that I was writing a book. He thought for a second and then asked "How much money does it make?"
That was it! Didn't ask me what the book was about (capitalism, democracy, and Christianity). Didn't ask me why I was writing it (a religious call). Didn't ask to see my work (I had over a hundred pages written). Didn't ask about my relationship with God; didn't suggest prayer; didn't suggest discernment. "How much money does it make?" That was his ONLY question!
How did this happen? When I asked the senior pastor for his help, he replied "you're a pretty smart guy, you'll figure something out". He seems like a nice guy, he talks about Jesus, but he clearly thinks that Matthew 25:35 is optional. He does it sometimes, but not all of the time. Is God optional? Can we just obey him some of the time? Do we know better than him? Can we decide when to obey his laws and when to ignore them?
Once you start thinking that God's laws are optional, then the road to hell is paved with religion. We're against gay marriage, drug abuse, and Obamacare. We'll outlaw these things and promote traditional conservative values. The problem is that Jesus didn't teach anything about homosexuality, drug use, or health care. What he did teach was peace, love, poverty, and faith, and we have no intention of using the government to enforce those values. Actually, Jesus didn't tell us to use the government to enforce our religious values at all, even though our government leaders must be the most devout men of God, as I'll explain later.
There is little room in our faith for ministers who simply spout off about Jesus. Perhaps some will come to Christ in this way. Perhaps merely standing up in a pulpit reading the Bible will bring non-believers into the fold, and others will pick up where such men leave off. What we really want, however, are disciples! A preacher has to start first as a disciple, and then will be called to preach, not at first, but the calling will come! There are simply too few of us for the calling not to come! Disciples first, preachers second!
How, then, to describe discipleship?
The Great Commission! Pay attention! We're told to make disciples, not believers! The devil is a believer! We're given two specific instructions for new disciples. Disciples are to be baptized, and disciples are to observe Christ's commandments. Disciples are to observe all of Christ's commandments.
I was sprinkled when I was an infant, but when I was 27 years old I was baptized by immersion in a lake in Ohio. At the time, I was considering a political campaign against the drug war, seeking the Lord's guidance, wrestling mightily with my conscience, and decided on a week-long fast followed by baptism. I asked the Lord in prayer to give me a sign at my baptism, even if it was only visible to me, indicating whether I should proceed with the campaign. No such sign was forthcoming, and I abandoned that foray into politics on the drive home. I now know that that was the right decision, though I spent years wondering. Asking for a sign now seems a bit presumptuous, but this was an early attempt at discernment, and very similar to how Gideon dealt with a similar situation in Judges 6.
Sometimes baptism is easy! In Acts 8, Philip probably had to preach for no more than a few hours and the eunuch was ready to be baptized. Some atheists, however, will resist this step for years. They don't believe in God; they don't believe in the Bible; they don't believe in Jesus. How can you believe in any one religion when so many say so such different things? Obviously these are myths; so many of these stories are all the same. For such people, baptism is a massive step. It is not, however, impossible. Tim Reilly's ministry focuses on evangelizing effectively to atheists and agnostics; he had many resources at iamcompelled.org to aid in this kind of ministry.
After baptism comes obedience. "Teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you." A lot of Christians get stuck at this point. They read so much about forgiveness, they hear so much about how our sins are washed away in the blood of the cross, we preach so much love, our theologists talk so much about Justification by Faith, that people start thinking that they can live however they please. After all, we're all saved, right?
We're not being judgmental, we're not preaching salvation by works, we're just telling you the truth! You think that you want this sham religion! You think that once you're saved, you can live however you want! You think that you want the Gospel to be optional!
You are wrong! The day will come when you will realize that you want to do exactly what God wants you to do, every day, all of the time, no exceptions! Why? Because God is good, he has our best interests in mind, and the commandments are there for our sake, not his. You will know then that you want to be the person that God made you to be, and anything else is a lie. You will pray to God to save you, and then you will understand that because we have free will, because we can choose between good and evil, the best way is to choose good at every time and in every way. America's sham religion is like the adulteress of Proverbs 5; its path is crooked, but it knows it not.
Baptism and obedience. These two things alone can take years. Many Christians can't get past obedience. Not only is it too hard, in a capitalist society, to "give to all those who beg of you", and to "sell your possessions and give to the poor", but we're inundated with propaganda telling us how much freedom we've got, we're surrounded by a state church that doesn't seem to be persecuted, and our most prominent ministers preach that capitalism is fine, but we need more government control over abortion, marriage, and drug use. They believe in Jesus, but they don't live the way he taught.
After obedience to the Gospel comes obedience to the Spirit. This is more difficult because the Gospel is written down, while the instructions of the Holy Spirit can only be understood through discernment. Actually, the Gospel can only be understood through discernment, too (Isaiah 6), as we can well testify to in this country. My fatal mistake with Occupy was not a failure to obey the Gospel, but a failure to obey the Spirit.
Discernment offers our best option for dealing with issues like abortion, gay marriage, school prayer, drugs and alcohol. There would be little need for divisive political feuds if individuals would follow God's guidance when confronted with these issues, and there is no way to satisfactorily resolve these issues in a secularized political arena. A nation led by God needs only light governance; a nation that rejects God will embrace the most oppressive governance in vain attempts to fix its problems.
How do we practice discernment?
Our relationship with God begins with worship. Why? Let's see. Where did we first hear the Gospel preached? Where did we sing our first hymns? Where did we meet the Christians that we respect? The answer is usually (but not always) "in church", and that means worship.
What is true worship? Worship begins with a genuine love of God, trust in God, and surrender to God. There's little point in worship without love, there's little point in discernment without trust, and we'll remain permanently crippled if we keep thinking that we can run our lives as well as God can. The easiest step in God's direction is to simply go to church on Sunday, but it needs to be the right church.
What is worship? Merriam-Webster defines worship as "reverence offered a divine being" and reverence as "profound adoring awed respect". Meditate on each of those words! Profound. Adoring. Awed. Respect.
Worship is usually accompanied by sermons, and these are either a real avenue for spiritual growth or a big problem, depending on the nature and strength of the preacher's discipleship (or lack thereof). Paul's guidance in 1st Corinthians is prescient. Notice particularly that when revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the speaker should stop (1Cor 14:30). In my experience, the single best test of a preacher is whether he is willing to let other people speak! The best churches are those where different people are preaching every Sunday. If it's always the same guy talking, and if he's been talking for a while, then where are the other disciples that he's been training? Nobody else in the congregation is called to preach? Really?
That doesn't mean that we should just jump up and start preaching. We have to actually be called to preach. It has to come from the Holy Spirit. We can't just do it ourselves. By the time that you are called to preach, you'll be strong enough to exercise good discernment, so there's no need to think that you have to start preaching if you're not already doing a lot of what I'm suggesting here. What I am saying is that in a church where only one voice speaks, that voice is unlikely to be God's.
So, find a church that preaches the Gospel, trains disciples, and is alive with the Holy Spirit. Don't know if the church is right for you? Then pray about it! Ask God to show you the right church, and if the minister only wants to know how much money your book makes, then consider your prayer answered!
Yes, Jesus prayed! Quite a bit actually. In this case, he had an important decision to make, so he spent all night in prayer!
I've never spent an entire night in prayer, but a technique that I learned in college was to invest an hour a day into a class that I was behind in, and I'd be caught up in no time. One hour a day!
I wish that I spent an hour a day in prayer. Actually, I only spend that much time in prayer when I have a big decision to make, like whether or not to begin preaching, or how to deal with the collapse of Occupy. On a regular day, it's probably more like fifteen minutes, hopefully half an hour. I'm not counting short prayers, either, like the prayers I say before eating, or before driving, or when sitting down to work on this book. I used to recoil with a mixture of respect and aversion when I met men who spent two hours a day in prayer. Since the Occupy debacle, though, I'm starting to realize that almost however much we pray, it's not enough.
Go to a church if it's convenient. We can pray anywhere, but it's easier to have a designated place, lacking distractions, that's been dedicated to God. If a chapel or sanctuary isn't convenient, then find a quiet place away from the TV. Right now, I do most of my prayer next to a pellet stove in the back room of a friend's house where I'm staying.
What do you do when you're siting or kneeling there for an hour? Speak to God, even though he already knows what's on your heart. I make regular prayer requests for food, clothing, shelter, health and guidance, thanksgiving for the tremendous blessings I have received, transformation of my hatred into love and effective channeling of my anger, conviction of my pride and stubbornness, as well as exceptional concerns like Occupy, or this book. After speaking, then be quiet for a while, waiting for a response, which you probably won't be able to hear at first, or more precisely, you'll hear it, but won't be able to sort it out. Keep at it, though, and you'll start to find quiet but powerful direction in your prayer time.
Of course, that direction rarely comes as an audible voice or an email. How do we understand it? How do we figure out what's "right" and "wrong"? Make sure that you start with a genuine commitment to discipleship, to putting God in charge of your life and seeking his guidance. Study the Bible. Listen to your conscience. More than anything else, though, make a real, lifelong commitment to God, and you'll start getting real, lifelong answers.
3. Bible study
The only reason that I list this third is because we all encountered God first through worship, and because the Bible itself must be approached through prayer, since it can only be understood through the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the Bible possesses an important advantage over other methods of discernment. It is a printed book, and however difficult it may be to understand, it is easier to understand than a revelation or a prophetic voice.
So much has been written about Bible study that I can add little except to explain my own personal beliefs. I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, but that does not mean that it is always literally accurate. It is a spiritual document, so if Joshua 10:13 says that the Sun stopped in the sky, this is not to be interpreted as astronomical truth. Probably the Earth stopped its rotation, but this was explained to a more primitive people as the Sun stopping in the sky. The Bible explains the incomprehensible, so inaccuracies invariably creep in. It's a collection of historical documents, so if there are slight chronological discrepancies between M and M about the withering of a fig tree, well, it's irrelevant to the spiritual truths being conveyed. I don't need to believe that every word in the Bible is true in order to believe its message, anymore than I need a Grand Unified Theory before I will believe in physics. The letters from Paul are just that, letters from Paul. If he tells us that women should remain silent in church in 1 Coritithians 14:34, that's just first century mores creeping in, nothing else. The Bible is inspired not just in its content but also in its presentation, that's why the words of Jesus are printed in red. They are the teachings of the Messiah, they the most important part of the Bible, and as such should be our primary object of study. Contradictions between the Old Testament and the Gospel should be resolved in favor of the Gospel, so we no longer stone adulteresses to death. Contradictions betwen the letters of Paul and the Gospel should be resolved in favor of the Gospel, so 2 Thessalonians 3:10 should be disregarded in favor of Matthew 25:35.
4. Group prayer.
Group prayer! This is one of the most powerful prayer techniques that I know. The hard part is finding disciples to pray with. Once you've found a group of disciples, discuss your prayer requests with them. Once you reach agreement on what you want to pray for, then go around the group, letting each person pray in turn, out loud, with his or her own words, but each asking for what the group has decided on. If someone requests prayer, it's best to pray immediately, rather than waiting for a later time that might not come. There has to be genuine agreement, so individuals can opt out, but we need to support each other's prayer life, so consider group prayer requests seriously. I've read of ministers who have recruited a prayer team to sit in a back room behind the pulpit and pray for them during the actual delivery of their sermons!
In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved." So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.
How did Paul know that? Revelation.
Remember the story of Philip and the eunuch. At first, an angel appeared to Philip and told him to "go toward the south". He was not told why; only to go. Once he went, the angel did not appear again. The Spirit, not the angel, told Philip to approach the chariot. Why? Because it is difficult for the Spirit to give such a specific direction as "go down the road towards Gaza". Once God got Philip down the right road however, then the chariot was right there, and only some encouragement from the Spirit was then required.
What is revelation? It's a sudden insight or understanding that comes from God. It appears instantaneously; it is not reasoned through. It can seemingly be triggered by thoughtful exercise, like reading a book, but what really triggers it is prayer. If you desire revelation, ask for it! Pray specifically for what you wish to know! To write this book, I had to ask in prayer to understand the exact state of my ministry. That prayer was answered by revelation.
Pentecostal worship is the best technique that I know of to develop an ear for the Holy Spirit. A pentecostal service is typically longer than your average ritualized service. Two hours seems to be standard, three or even four is certainly not unheard of. There will be music, singing, praise, and a certain style of preaching that exhorts people to throw their hands up in the air and yell "Praise Jesus!" The preacher may feel called to throw out blessings, saying something like "there's a teacher, there's a educator in the house, say Hallelujah!". If you feel like the blessing is meant for you, then you should cry out "Hallelujah!". Even if you don't hear a specific preaching meant for you, there will still moments when you feel an urge to throw your hands up in the air and cry out "Hallelujah!" or "Praise Jesus!" or "Amen!"
I haven't been to many pentecostal services, but I hardly ever make it through an entire service without the Spirit calling me to do something a little crazy, a little embarrassing, a little unusual. Usually, I then clam up and remain seated in my chair. That's not good, but most of us failed to write our b's and d's correctly back in first grade. Get over it, come back next week, try again. Keep it up for a while, and you'll find that not only are you opening up to blessings during worship, but you'll also find yourself walking up to people in the supermarket and finding the right words to say because they're being given to you from the same source - the Holy Spirit.
6. Dreams and prophetic gifts
I experienced dreams in Hawaii and prophetic voices here in Alaska. When I explain to people what happened to me in Juneau, I'm often told that we are to avoid palm readers because they are occult. Satanic rites, prayers to Wiccan deities, and Ouija boards are occult. But let's not forget also that there are genuine spiritual gifts. These are not myths, and the reason we see them so rarely is because we've allowed secularism to pervade and corrupt our churches, but they are there and they are real!
I group dreams and prophetic gifts together because both present the same problem, that of interpretation. In my experience, they can never be understood without further discernment! If you're praying specifically for dreams, you might as well just go ahead and pray for understanding at the same time, because otherwise you'll just be left wondering what it all means and then have to pray for understanding later. Likewise for prophetic voices. Two of my greatest mistakes with Occupy was not asking God if the message in Juneau was real and what the message in Fairbanks meant.
Towards the end of my time in Hawaii, I was lost and hopeless. All the local Christians had rejected me, I was living in a homeless camp, everything that I had of value (laptop and surfboard) had been stolen. I prayed for guidance, exercised discernment, did everything that I felt called to, but still didn't know what to do next. I prayed about this, too, and the answer came through revelation. "You've asked me what I want you to do, but you haven't asked me to do anything for you."
What? I don't ask God to do anything for me! Do I? Discernment is finding out what God wants me to do, not the other way around, right? Let's see, I ask God to "give us this day our daily bread". I've asked God for food, shelter, and guidance. After the revelation I just described, I started asking God for dreams, as I explained earlier, and I had dreams about flying to Alaska!
See, if you're a disciple, you work for God, and you can ask the boss for things that you need to do your job. You can even ask for luxuries, and God would rather you ask him than try to get them yourself, actually. Just remember that it's a request, that's all.
I now ask God for transportation! In the spring of 2012, I was occupying with John Martin in advance of the Anchorage mayoral election when I felt called to visit a church here in Fairbanks. Now previously, when I felt called to do something, I'd think that I needed to jump up and go, go, go! John encouraged me to wait. I spent most of that week fasting, which I've done often in the wilderness, but fasting in downtown Anchorage was a new experience! I fasted and prayed for transportation to Fairbanks, if in fact I was called to go there.
Friday afternoon found a church group across the street handing out clothing and warm drinks to the homeless. I walked over, talked with them for a while, and obtained a ride to Wasila, which is on the road to Fairbanks. If you've spent any time hitchhiking, you know that getting out of a big city is the hardest part.
Lance let me sleep on his couch that night, and gave me thirty dollars and a bag of trail mix in the morning. I stood by the road with a sign reading "Fairbanks", I developed the definite sense that I should lose the sign, which I did. I also stopped holding out my thumb. I now waited by the roadside, fasting and praying, with no sign, just a suitcase, and making no signal that I was seeking a ride.
One car after another stopped and gave me rides. I did spend a pretty miserable night out in the cold in Healy, and as dawn broke Sunday morning I couldn't help but wonder how I could make the remaining hundred miles before church began. Was I really called to go to Fairbanks? Maybe it was all in my head.
At 8 AM a car pulled up from the wrong direction. "Do you have any money?" the driver asked. Yes, I replied. I had the thirty dollars that Lance had given me the day before. She was driving from Anchorage to Fairbanks and had just discovered that she had left her ATM card at home. The thirty dollars went into her gas tank and she dropped me off at the front door of Freedom in Christ an hour before their Sunday service.
I've tried to describe, in practical terms without much theology, how I live as a disciple, and I've tried to explain this in a way that others can apply in their lives. Don't get the idea that I'm some Jedi master that uses "the force" to make cars stop and give him a ride. First off, God does all the work, not me. He's not some impersonal "force" that I "use". He's a living spirit that's overwhelmingly incompressible to any human being. Second, the reliance on God that I've described has taken years to develop and learn, and I don't think that I could have learned it without a strong dose of persecution. I would never have gotten to the point of praying to God for transportation to Fairbanks if I had the money to just get on a plane and fly there myself.
Finally, let me summarize the essence of discernment. First, you must become a disciple, which means making a conscious decision to put God totally in charge of your life. You can bring him your wants and needs, your ambitions and desires, as prayer requests, but he's the boss. He's in charge. Next, you live according the Gospel. There's no point in seeking the Spirit if you won't obey the words in red. You develop a disciplined spiritual life with regular worship, prayer, and Bible study, so that you're constantly exposed to God, you're constantly talking with God, and you're constantly reading about God. Finally, you listen to God. You pay attention to that still small voice that we call our conscience and you follow where it leads.
Now, if disciples lived alone in the world, we could wrap up this discussion right now. We live apart from the world, we work for God instead of money, we follow where God leads us, do the work he calls us to, and are eventually called home. Fortunately, we don't live alone, so after discussing how to live as an individual disciple, we should now discuss how to live in community.
"Community" usually means "church", but there's a big problem with that. By changing the one term to the other, we're already accepting the secularist proposition that discipleship is something to be done on Sunday mornings, rather than a 24/7, lifelong commitment. In a lot of ways, I'm just not interested in going to church if that's all it is! Are we going to pray together on Monday, too? Are we going to talk about how God wants us to run the school, or the gas station, or the newspaper, or the website, or whatever it is that we spend the rest of our time on? If not, then we're not really a community of disciples, are we? We're more like undercover Christians in a secular world.
So what are we? Undercover Christians? Is this China?
For centuries, Christians dissatisfied with Sunday morning religion have sought deeper ways to respond to the Gospel. The most successful of these efforts began with a dedication to living the Gospel, progressed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and ultimately attracted additional disciples who gathered together into religious communities, two major examples being the Benedictines and the Franciscans.
In the years following the collapse of the Roman empire, St. Benedict left his upper class Italian home in his early twenties and initially became a hermit, living for three years in a cave about forty miles from Rome. A spring provided him water, and a sympathizer lowered him food in a basket and visited him occasionally. Word spread, however, and he developed a reputation for holiness. Eventually, he was asked to lead first one monastic community, then another, ultimately founding the Benedictine order and writing the rule by which it is governed to this day.
Contrast this with how many Christian leaders operate today. Benedict did not decide to establish a monastery, then go around soliciting donations to make it happen. Nor did he remain in Rome, working a job until he had saved enough to make a pilgrimage to the cave. He didn't even join an established monastery until he was asked to become abbot! Instead, he gave up all of his worldly attachments (Luke 12) and followed where the Holy Spirit led him, even though it must have seemed impossible that retreating to a cave was the route to lead a community! Today, he'd just be called lazy.
How, then, do Benedictines live? What is it about this lifestyle that continues to attract people?
The Benedictine motto is "ora et labora" - prayer and work, and Benedict's own example shows that the prayer comes first. Modern Benedictine communities typically pray together five times a day, starting with morning prayer around dawn, followed by Mass just before the beginning of the work day, a brief noon prayer, a longer Vespers service before dinner, and Compline just before the monks retire for the night. Each service has its own flavor. Morning prayer is typically dominated by psalms, Mass is a slightly shortened version of your typical Sunday service, and Compline is quiet and meditative.
What about work? Most Benedictine abbeys have some kind of major work that most of the community engages in, such as running a school or a retreat center, but that doesn't mean that everyone in the community has to engage in that work. A Benedictine friend of mine runs a small theological research institute in a wing of the abbey, even though the community runs a high school as its primary occupation.
Hundreds of years later, St. Francis embarked on a journey similar to St. Benedict's. After dabbling in a variety of pursuits, he turned decisively to God, making a pilgrimage to Rome and spending more and more of his time in solitude. A crucial turning point came during a prayer vigil in the small church at San Damiano, when the crucifix spoke to him in a vision and told him to 'rebuild the church'.
After some confused first steps, he ultimately settled onto a path that led him to found the Franciscan order. If the hallmark of Benedictines is their hospitality (they are to "receive strangers as Christ"), then the Franciscans are renowned for poverty. Like the Benedictines, they divest themselves of their worldly possessions, but instead of working at a monastery to support themselves, they go around begging for food! They base themselves out of a friary, but spend most of their time out among the everyday people of the surrounding community, receiving no money for any work they do, and counting on charity to provide for their needs.
Of course, the Franciscans have received so many sizable donations over the centuries that they no longer have to beg for anything. A good modern example was the late Bruce Ritter, who after living for a year in a tenement building on the Lower East Side of New York City, operating a "ministry of availability", began taking in homeless teenagers and ultimately founded Covenant House.
Notice some common threads between the Benedictines and the Franciscans. Both were established by saints who founded their orders only after a long prayer interaction with God. Both insist that disciples must obey Luke 12 and sell all of their worldly possessions. Both pray at least five times a day.
People who take the Gospel seriously, commit to living the life of a disciple, depend on God through prayer, and support each other even with a seemingly goofy idea like a ministry of availability because they trust that we're all on the same team, and it's God's team.
That's what I'm talking about! That's Christian community!
Unfortunately, we've spend so much time and energy fighting amonst ourselves over our bitter little theological disputes while ignoring Christianity's overall slide into hypocrisy and irrelevance that there isn't much Christian community left.
Remember John Martin? The last time I saw him he was taking up the slack left by the temporary closure of a major Anchorage soup kitchen. He obtains food from the Food Bank, cooks up a pot of soup, puts it in a wagon, rolls it up to the corner of City Hall at noon and scoops it out to anyone who asks. A local church provides kitchen and storage facilities.
If he was selling hot dogs out of a cart, all he'd need is enough cash to make the health inspector happy. Instead, he's been cited three times for operating an illegal food establishment. This is also the man who was once called the "scum of the Earth" by one of our opponents, walking by the protest site in a suit and tie.
Those opponents will be quick to point out that the Food Bank provides the food and the church provides the kitchen. Yet John is still homeless, camping discretely where the city cops haven't found him. It just isn't my idea of a community, or a society, that I want to live in. It's a pagan nation that treats disciples this way.
I want to live in a country where there are religious communities everywhere! A country where a monastery is as easy to find as a health club, where disciples are respected, not persecuted, for foregoing wealth and worldly posessions, where basic living accommodations are available to them (and everyone else), and the churches are vibrant social centers of discipleship.
Occupy was a political opposition, and any doubt that there is a strong political aspect to my calling was dispelled by the timing of this revelation - one week after the election.
By 2012, I had turned completely against democracy, believing it to be another communism, another "people's government" that had become an excuse for depraved tyranny. Then I was shocked by a religious call to run a political campaign of some kind! I'm still very suspicious of democracy. It's just so hard to believe that after years of being talked to like garbage, being treated like garbage, being throw away homeless on the streets like so much human trash, that we would suddenly achieve some miraculous transformation of American society just because yours truly made it onto TV.
Let me be very clear about this. There's nothing wrong with the idea that the masses of people should have a voice in a country's leadership. There's no reason why we shouldn't have free and fair elections; in fact, we should have more of them. There's no reason not to have a vibrant political opposition, limitations on government power, and a free press.
On the other hand, there are some points that we need get absolutely clear about. Governmental authority does not come from "the people" or the "consent of the governed" or any such nonsense. Legitimate authority comes from God, nowhere else.
America's political philosophy proposes far more than the notion that the people have a voice in their government. American democracy proposes that the only legitimate source of governmental authority is the "consent of the governed". This is an almost meaningless propaganda phrase; taken literally, it would seem to imply that nobody should be imprisoned, for who would consent to their own incarceration? "Consent of the governed" is a code phrase that means "majority rule", and what our system of government really proposes is that the majority have the right to rule over everyone else, even if that leadership is absolutely wicked.
Last July 4th, American Atheists made headlines by flying an "Atheism is Patriotic" banner over New York City. Dave Silverman, the group's president, stated that "Religion is unpatriotic at its core, because it places its law above the law of the land." Teresa MacBain, the group's Public Relations Director, added "Atheism, being the absence of any religious beliefs, implies that human law alone is supreme over humanity."
This has been the collection sin of humanity since Genesis 3. We want human law to be supreme over humanity. We don't need God's law; man can govern himself. God might not even exist!
Of course, atheism is an extreme position relative to the beliefs of the average American, but these comments are prescient. The atheists describe exactly where our country is going. "Human law alone is supreme." Under our democracy, majority rule is supreme, it has produced the largest prison system in the world, a depraved economic system, and is conquering the entire planet to enslave it under democracy.
We've seen this style of government enough times in the last century that it's become sickeningly rote. Some group is declared to be "the people", whether it's the proletariat, the Aryan race, or the majority. Then we build a "people's government"; who would argue with that? Who wouldn't want "the people" to govern? We don't really need limits on government power; it's what "the people" want. Our society is totally dominated by money; it's what "the people" want. You have to obey the laws; it's what "the people" want. Anyone who doesn't like it can leave; it's what "the people" want.
Part of the problem is that "the people" are never all of the people. There's always one group that is labeled "the people" and those who oppose them are derided as thieves, bums, criminals, terrorists, and generally speaking, the lowest form of human scum imaginable. Anyone who opposes "the people" absolutely must be broken. It never hurts that "the people" so dominate and control all of the means of public expression that opposing voices are drowned into silence.
According to the communists, the proletariat were "the people" because they did the actual work that kept an industrial society going. Marx's "labor theory of value" argued that the value of a product is related principally to the labor required to produce it. According to the fascists, the Aryan race were "the people" because they are more evolved, more genetically advanced. "Gattica", named by NASA as the most plausible science fiction movie ever made, envisions a future dominated by a super-race of genetically engineered humans.
Many readers easily discard the pro-communist and pro-fascist propaganda while accepting our corresponding pro-democracy propaganda without question. The majority are "the people" in a sense that neither the proletariat nor the Aryan race could claim to be. Democracy is a "legitimate" system of government in a way that neither communism or fascism were. Shocked outrage at anyone who doesn't "believe" in democracy serves to eliminate any real discussion. Lambasting opponents as racists or communists disguises the fundamental similarities shared by all of these tyrannical philosophies. We accept our own propaganda, that the majority have the right to rule, and reject fascism and communism because they are not supported by "the people", i.e, the majority.
In fact, there is no person or group of people who have any right to rule. Only God has that authority. Leadership of any kind is justified only if it is moral and just, and this is decided by God.
A fascinating system of government. I absolutely hate it. How much? I thought that my religious call was to overthrow this government! I even told people that! Well, I knew that it was something like that! (anybody can screw up a discernment) Now I understand better. I was called to preach! I was called to give you a choice, through your democracy, by breaking into this political system and at least giving voice to the Christian gospel and letting you choose in your election. And I blew it.
What system of government is better? What could replace it?
When ancient Israel was enslaved in Egypt, God raised two prophets named Moses and Aaron who led Israel out of bondage and into freedom, as told in the book of Exodus. After years in the desert, Moses died and was replaced by Joshua, who led Israel into the promised land, as told in the book named after him. When he was 110 years old, he led Israeli to renew the covenant, died, and was peacefully buried.
The Israeli government then vanished. Ceased to exist.
Individual tribes continued to operate, but there was no longer any central organization. The tribes and their leaders were devout, they worshiped God, they prayed to God, they listened to God, they discerned God's will, and things went pretty well. We're now into the book of Judges.
Things didn't keep going well, mainly because individuals and tribes turned away from God. They stopped trying to be disciples and just settled for being believers. Little wars began to crop up.
The Lord let this go so far as to allow brief returns to slavery. The Philistines ruled Israel for forty years, and then God raised a judge, Samson, to liberate them starting in Judges 13. Samson was a bit like me; he really bungled things up, too, but he got rid of the Philistines, though he died in the victory. (oh well)
This is how God led Israeli for years, through men and woman like Samson and Deborah, Gideon and Ehud, until the Israelites demanded a king, mainly because everyone else around them had a king. That transition was overseen by Samuel, the last of the judges.
In short, after the Exodus, the most dramatic of God's interventions in the political life of a nation, a certain system of government resulted. Very loose, very weak, often non-existent central government unified only occasionally by a special kind of disciple called a judge.
Interestingly enough, a lot of people today advocate a weaker central government! It's important to remember, however, that decentralized government and deregulated society isn't some cure-all elixir to be hawked on AM talk radio like a nineteenth century patent medicine. An absolutely essential characteristic of this form of government is the devotion to God of the bulk of the populace.
Essential! This is essential! There is no magic system of government that produces freedom, liberty, equality, human rights, civil liberties and economic opportunity apart from God! The modern attempt, in the name of religious pluralism, to detach God into a Sunday morning exercise is an experiment doomed to failure. No government programs, no matter how well managed, can mitigate a fundamentally immoral society. No economic system, no matter how competitive, will reward hard work if subjugation is the only way to obtain it. Likewise, a society of people dedicated to God, with a healthy dose of genuine disciples, needs little in the way of governance, because God is the leader.
Now, I've studied the Bible, I understood what judges were, I advocated for that system of government, but I did not grasp that such governance was possible in this country until I myself was called to lead an opposition. I hate our leadership, but if I could have played Occupy like a fiddle, something would have happened. Maybe I wouldn't be President, but it would have at least let people listen and vote.
So maybe I was wrong about democracy. Maybe.
I'd fantasized about overthrowing it, I'd settled down to opposing it, I'd sought ways to escape from it, I would have used an election to reform it, but actually I was just called to preach to it.
Of course, there is no such thing as democracy. There is only the American system of government, the Canadian system of government, the Mexican system of government, the Australian system of government, etc. Democracy is only a vague concept, that somehow "the people" should have "a voice" in their government.
There's nothing wrong with giving people a voice in their government, but the American system of government is a total disaster, partially mitigated by freedom. Our leaders are chosen on a TV game show, vastly elaborate, with stages all over the country, and oh so expensive! You've got to be flying everywhere, giving speeches, buses, banners, balloons, all kinds of buttons and bumper stickers! It costs huuuuge amounts of money to play, the judges watch everything on TV, and then they vote!
The great reliance on TV means that the media has tremendous influence over the outcome of the election, and the media is now massively corrupt. Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign cost $700 million, of which $300 million was spent on advertising. In other words, $300 million went into the pockets of the "free press", and that's just one national campaign. Add up all of the campaigns for President, for Congress, for state houses, and probably $1 billion per election got paid to the media to buy TV, radio, and newspaper ads. Before you can even think about winning an election, you need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to be heard.
Our leaders are chosen like sporting champions. There's a regular season, then the postseason and the conference championships, and finally two contenders square off in the fall debates to see who can claim the greatest political prize of all, Leader of the Free World.
The Giants play the Patriots in the Super Bowl, everybody watches on TV, but it doesn't really matter who wins. What if it did matter? What if the Buffalo Bills absolutely had to win the Super Bowl; what if it was essential for national security? The Bills haven't made the playoffs since Doug Flutie was quarterback. What if the Toronto Argonauts had to win? They're not even allowed to play.
This is how our political system is structured, except that it really does matter who wins. Of course, it could be worse. A lot worse.
In his book "The Gulag Archipelago", Alexander Solzhenitsyn tells the story of Viktor Alekseyevich Belov, whom he met while in prison. God had probably raised Belov to become Czar after the death of Stalin. Belov was warned by a prophet not to begin organizing until 1948, but Belov, even though he was only an automobile mechanic at the time, felt so responsible for what was happening in his country that he began organizing in 1943. He was betrayed to the police, arrested, and disappeared into the gulag. Instead of Czar Mikhail we got Khrushchev. This is the real world; men of God make mistakes.
You vote, you lose, then you do what you're told. If you don't like it, get the hell out. The logic here is that the majority run this country, this is how they've chosen to do so, if you live here you should accept that, and if you won't accept it then you should leave.
So why not just leave?
First and foremost, I am a disciple of Christ. In many ways, I hate living in this country because of how I am treated, but I'm not going to leave until God tells me to leave. In the meantime, I've got a job to do and it's not one that the majority wants or respects, but that doesn't matter. I don't work for the majority. I work for God.
Furthermore, where are you going to go? Whenever we are told to "love it or leave it" or to "get the hell out", I reply first that I go where I am called by God, and then I want to know where? Where are we supposed to go to when we leave? There really is no place to go. The problems of America are the problems of humanity. There is no other country that offers the freedom that we lack. There certainly is no other country that offers it to immigrants.
It was America, ironically enough, that not only promised freedom, but promised it especially to immigrants! Now we've come full circle. We were born here, we were promised freedom all of our lives, and now we are told that if we want the freedom that we were promised, we should leave, go to another country and become immigrants to obtain it.
I am learning to be reluctantly grateful for the oppression that I suffer here in this country. If I had freedom, I probably would use it to work on technology R&D, I'd go to church, I'd worship God, but I wouldn't develop the total reliance on him that I have now. The scripture is true! It is only by loosing my life that I have gained it! It is only by being stripped of the life that I desired that I have obtained the one God wants me to have!
There is no freedom without Christ.
That is almost exactly what we need, except of course that it's not enough for the officials to be regarded as divinely guided. They have to actually be divinely guided. Human beings are not capable of administering a government without divine guidance.
When I suggest theocratic government, the secularists howl and start screaming about their rights! We're thrown away like human garbage because our religion teaches that capitalism is immoral and they talk about rights! We're told to "get the hell out" if we don't like it and they talk about freedom! Our political opposition is busted up by SWAT teams, they shrug their shoulders and tell us that we have to obey the law! Our speeches are blacked out by the media and they're very concerned about the stifling effect of religious fanaticism on free expression.
Enough! We're done with these rights! We live in an oppressive society determined to jam its depraved leadership down our throats, we're disenfranchised by a political system controlled by money and dominated by secularism and sham Christianity, and now we've seen an entire political opposition eliminated by the police and silenced by the media! If the secularists wanted rights, they should have stood up for ours! What they really want is secular government.
The choice is not between a free, peaceful, democratic, secular society and an oppressive, fanatic, conquering theocracy. The choice is between an oppressive, fanatic, conquering democracy and peaceful, Godly leadership. Our leaders are absolute fanatics. They "believe" in democracy, no matter what it produces or how it produces it. They will not negotiate with their opponents. You have to "accept" democracy, either at home or abroad, and you will be crushed and beaten until you do.
We're told to wait until the next election, things will get better, we can work within the system. Instead, we vote for "change we can believe in" and get more oppressive, fanatic, conquering, militant capitalist democracy. This is why the only visible theocracies are so militant. It's not because all theocracy is militant; it's because no merely human opposition to secular democracy is possible. Only God can oppose this government.
The election of 2012 was the biggest political disaster in American history. The opposition degenerated into street riots and was eliminated by SWAT teams. No meaningful election took place. The presidential campaign pitted a militant capitalist against a militant capitalist and a militant capitalist won. What's more, this time the opposition was raised by God, so what does that imply about the consequences of its failure?
2012 was also the biggest failure of my life, but there is no way to go back. The only way is forward. We need to discuss these issues, we need to form a Christian opposition, and we ultimately need to form a Christian government. We need to make a solid commitment, across the board, to have Christian leadership in every aspect of our society. General assemblies, legislative sessions, and board meetings all need to start with prayer. Not rote prayer, either. Our farms and factories need to be managed by people determined to seek God's will for the disposition of those resources, not multinational corporations determined to maximize profits. We can not be dependent on a global economy, no matter how cheap its products, because we can not trust that it will be managed by disciples of Christ.
Christian government. Many will howl in terror at the thought. Remember, though, that it is secular government that has produced the largest prison system in the world, the most crushing military juggernaut in human history, our cynical economic system, and an overarching government that spends money like a Siam princess.
Remember, too, that many claim to be Christian disciples who are not. Capitalism is an acid test for this brand of "Christianity". Review Matthew 5, Matthew 25, Mark 10, Luke 6, Luke 12, James 2. What happens when a man walks into a restaurant without money? How do we treat the homeless? How do we fund our buses and trains, schools and hospitals? Can we develop proprietary technology and outlaw on-line public libraries, or must technology and information be open and free?
A Christian restaurant must be run as a soup kitchen; a Christian hotel must be run as a homeless shelter. If we can't provide sufficient housing, then establish free camping sites. They will need to be provided with sanitation facilities like port-a-potties, which must be cleaned regularly, and the homeless can not afford this. So it must be provided for them at "public expense", but not through taxes, but rather through well-meaning citizens who donate their time, money and equipment. If enough of those people exist, we're fine. If those people don't exist, then that's not a place worth living in.
The government must be run by Christians, too. I can't figure out whether to get on a plane and go to Anchorage or Fairbanks; I most certainly can't figure out how to deal with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Only God can lead a government. Only through discernment can people on Earth tap into that wisdom.
A Christian political party must be formed. Its primary process can include rallies and speeches, general assemblies and town hall meetings, yet the ultimate selection of a party ticket must be carried out by the most select Christian disciples, using all of our techniques of discernment, all of the prophetic gifts and spiritual resources at our disposal. There can be no primary election. Once that slate of candidates has been prepared, it will be presented to the populace in a general election, to be accepted or rejected in favor of other candidates. If the disciples do our jobs, then the electorate should be pleasantly surprised to find us nominating quality leaders who will effectively guide the nation.
So, Christian democracy is a political and spiritual movement that proposes a comprehensive social revolution, replacing capitalism with the Gospel, introducing a strong element of theocracy into our democratic government, and warning of dire consequences if this prescription is not followed.
America is abandoning God, we see the results, and it's not something stupid like gay marriage. We hear the vitriol that is spewed on AM talk radio. We see the street riots on TV. We're at war with Islam abroad, and we're at war with ourselves at home. One faction screams for people to work for Mammon, and tells anyone who doesn't like it to "get the hell out". The other faction demands more and more government regulation to solve all of our problems. Both preach our overarching system of government to anyone who will listen. The street faction throws rocks at storefronts and rants against "the system". They're all at war with somebody. They hate you. You hate them. That's what we've become. A nation full of hate, greed, wickedness, and violence. Everyone talks about freedom, but nobody wants freedom in Christ.
The nation! The nation! My God, the nation!
Ever since the non-campaign when I was 27 years old, I've felt that I've held the nation cradled in my hands, I've finally dropped it, and I'm so, so sorry. I've hated this country in so many ways, but I would have run in the election, and if elected I would have served. I would have at least tried to lead the opposition to pack our bags and launch an Alaskan secession movement.
See, the watchman takes a lot of pride in his work. I came to Alaska because I was called here by God. I preached the Gospel because I was called. I tried to blow the trumpet because I was called. I'm not going back to Maryland; of course not! I was called to Alaska! I failed to blow the trumpet, so then I ran door to door trying to warn everyone about what happened. That didn't work, either, so now I'm back on my knees begging God to blow the trumpet again.
Here's the problem. The watchman didn't really give a shit what happened to the town. The townspeople talk to him like garbage, they treat him like garbage, they ignore him, they slam their doors shut in his face, they spit on him in the marketplace, they leave him to sleep out in the cold, they throw him out of their churches. The watchman would love to leave and go to another town, but he can see them all from the watchtower, none of them are very friendly, and anyway he has a job to do. The watchman does his job, but he hates the town.
That doesn't sound very Christian, and it's not.
Who could love this country? Who could love a country run by a bunch of self-serving creeps with some nightmare system to be jammed down the throats of anyone who won't go along with it voluntarily? Who could love a country out to conquer the entire world and enslave it under majority rule? Who could love a sham religion that mocks Christ by teaching that the Gospel is optional and throws away genuine disciples like human garbage? Who could love a country that celebrates political opposition as the most protected form of free speech, then eliminates the most promising political opposition in a generation using SWAT teams? Truly, who could love this country?
What? You don't want leaders who hate the country? Well, no, but you definitely want leaders who burn with hatred for capitalism, who consult everyone but refuse to cave in to the majority, who have dedicated their lives to God, who serve if they are called by God, who are disciples of Christ.
I've told you how I've prayed for food, housing, transportation, work, guidance, and inspiration. I've also prayed for God to get me out of this country, repeatedly. I've asked him to help me overthrow this government. I've asked him for a secession movement. When he called me to preach, I asked for a pulpit. I never expected a political campaign, at least not for anything other than secession and independence. They want us to leave, then let's leave! I'm OK with that, but now there's a crisis.
I wrote my first book hoping that it would galvanize America's scattered anti-capitalist Christian opposition into mounting an Alaskan or Hawaiian secession bid in 2012. Then Occupy happened! CNN! Fox! God's plan was so much better than anything that I had imagined! (of course) The timing was perfect! And it was so easy! All I had to do was go to Anchorage and preach! Now 2012 has come and gone, and I'm back to writing again. It's a poor substitute for a divinely inspired political opposition.
There are benefits to failure. I'm a better disciple than I was a year ago. Obviously, I take prophetic voices a lot more seriously than I did then! I'm more humble, more willing to consider the spiritual gifts of the people around me.
Have you screwed up in your life? Ruined your marriage with an affair? Got locked up in prison? Killed someone driving drunk? With a handgun, even?
And you're really, really sorry, right? I know, I am too. You want to go back and fix it? Me too. But we can't go back. Only forward.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Sometimes it's because good people make mistakes. Good people make mistakes that affect other good people who haven't themselves done anything wrong! Sometimes things don't work out even though you've done everything right!
Why aren't things working out, even though I'm sure that I'm doing what God has called me to? Maybe the calling is so difficult and so delicate that an inadvertent misstep can lead to a ruinous outcome. Something seemingly insignificant could be decisive.
So the opposition is destroyed, I'm back to being homeless and destitute, no one listens to my speeches, there's no way to organize, the church throws me away in a homeless shelter.