Tag Archives: mission

Zinzendorf 2.0

In a world increasingly defined by its crises, it is time for a radical shift back to an old approach to Christian community. The 21st Century has barely begun and already we are confronted with a growing plethora of complex challenges that must be overcome. The global economy that has defined much of world politics over the last 100 years appears to be increasing in instability. The ecology of the planet is increasingly taxed by unsustainable human practices, some of which could very well bring in the devastating effects of droughts and famines. Technology has allowed for great leaps forward in human wickedness, including the massive growth of the pornography and sex trafficking industries. In addition, here in these United States, the political situation is rapidly increasing in instability since our government has broken loose from its Constitutional moorings and has been careening wildly towards Federally imposed tyranny limiting free speech, freedom of religion, and the other freedoms American’s claim to hold dear. In the midst of all these difficulties the Church of Jesus Christ, as a body called out to serve their fellow man and seek and save the lost, has an incredible opportunity to take the lead in resolving these difficulties.

From its inception, this blog has been about Faith, Sustainability, and Liberty. The idea that follows is still in the rough, it needs refining and tempering, but above all it needs people of God to be willing to make radical changes in obedience to Him. What follows represents Thetonedeafbard’s total solution to the crises that are converging around us. Please join the conversation by leaving a comment or sending me an email at thetonedeafbard@gmail.com

That this shift is definitely necessary needs to be made clear, but effort has been taken to not overly dwell on the problem. The following is a brief summary of the problems looming on the horizon of the 21st Century, details of each issue are abundantly available from other sources.

The Problems
As this post is rather long, those well acquainted with the difficulties I mentioned in the first paragraph may skip this section.

First and foremost, the Western Church is facing a crisis. Much of it is becoming increasingly irrelevant to young people, while simultaneously many churches are selling out core Christian values and in the process giving up any influence they had left. Even good churches struggle to accomplish their Biblical role because their members aren’t really doing life together. Even for those who are still truly following Christ, it has become increasingly difficult for their worship not to be crammed into one of several compartments in their lives. At the end of the day, Christianity must be communal to survive in an increasingly antagonistic post modern culture, and right now it just isn’t.

Simultaneously, the Global Church is experiencing a massive transition. The success of Christian Mission in reaching the unreached, while not complete, has seen massive success. So much so that the West no longer makes up the majority of the Christian world. Western influence is still very strong, but will likely begin to wane in the near future, as our Majority World brethren take more and more responsibility. In the meantime, there are still thousands of unreached people groups perishing without the Gospel. The Church needs to make a concerted effort to make a functional hand off of this task, before the Western Church drops of the scene more completely.

Industrial agriculture is failing. All the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, genetic tampering, monoculture, etc. is beginning to take effect. The global food supply is increasingly vulnerable to disease and an increasingly unstable climate. In particular soil degradation and deforestation are taking a heavy toll, causing decreased crop yields, alterations in weather patterns, drought, failure of the soil to retain moisture, increased plant disease, aquifer depletion, and a whole host of other environmental issues. Our expensive fossil fuel based inputs are yielding more and more diminishing returns. Sooner or later, as yields decrease and soil depletes industrial agriculture will no longer be able to feed the earth’s growing population.

Our cheap energy era has also come with tragic human consequences. Urbanization and industrialization, while allowing some to reach levels of prosperity never before imagined, have also created massive pockets of urban poverty. In many of these pockets people are unable to meet their own basic needs for food, water, shelter, healthcare, hygiene, etc. Those living in these areas are suffering from daily deprivations, and are also more prone to exploitation such as that by the global sex trafficking industry. The Church of Jesus Christ has a Biblical command to meet these physical needs while introducing the Savior. At this time we have seen great strides towards relieving this suffering, but what is needed most deeply is a cultural shift that will address the larger problems causing poverty and suffering.

Exacerbating all the problems listed above is the increasing risk of economic collapse at the hands of rogue nations. The United States has led the way in treading a path towards tyranny and economic slavery. Americans are losing more and more of the liberty they cherish, while supporting a military industrial take over of the rest of the world spearheaded by super corporations. The tragic results are that, while even American’s who have more traditional ability to defend themselves against the rise of authoritarianism are giving up their liberty, those in the rest of the world with less resources are also paying the price for our negligence. As the cost of all of this government increases, the entire globally connected economy is facing increased threat of hyperinflation and collapse. Since this is happening simultaneously to these other global issues, the entire world could face massive amounts of suffering and loss simultaneously as much of what we have thought of as civilization risks passing away.

With a series of issues of this proportion and level of interconnectedness, a giant game of whack-a-mole isn’t going to work. These solutions call for a concentrated solution that will address all of the dangers and suffering that are happening now and are yet to come. The good news is, that solution has already been found. There is a historically validated answer to the current situation, that can be implemented today.

A Historical Solution

Count Nicolaus Zenzendorf and the Moravians provide one of the most fascinating expressions of Christian community available. While not historically well known in many circles, the Moravian community continues to have a disproportionate historical impact. The Moravian community launched the Protestants into world mission well ahead of the “Father of Modern Missions” William Carey. Their community life influenced the thoughts and practices of both John Wesley and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Even now there are churches all over the world who originally received the Gospel through the ongoing ministry of the early Moravian missionaries.

The Moravian Brethren were originally from a variety of theological backgrounds that were being persecuted in other parts of Europe. Count Zinzendorf provided them with shelter and allowed them to form a community on his estate. When theological infighting grew intense, Zinzendorf decided he had better take a more active role in the community. He sat down with the various community leaders and they studied the Scriptures continually until the issues were resolved. What came out was not a unified doctrinal statement in the traditional sense, but instead a set of standards for Christian living in community. Over time this deliberate practice of Christian community in sharing of the word and life together developed into a mission sending community the world has not really seen the like of since.

With an emphasis on practical skill development such as agriculture or various useful trades, the Moravians went forth equipped to provide for their physical needs while physically serving those to whom they went. They went forth with a passion for Christ so deep that several literally sold themselves into slavery to reach unreached African slaves. A survey of the modern mission movement, and how disproportionately it has been touched by this small community of brothers and sisters, gives us a great deal of insight into the effectiveness of doing life and mission in intentional community.

The temptation when looking at such an effectual community as that of the Moravians is to think that such a place must have been a historical anomaly. The fact of the matter is though, it has long standing in the classical Christian tradition. Eusebius records communities such as this one as early as the first century, and while it is not entirely clear, the Acts gives us some clear indicators that the New Testament Church was living in a very communal setting as well. All the way through the medieval period, and even today in the Roman Catholic church, the monastic tradition emphasized life together as a means to know God and serve man better. The trouble with discussing the monastic movement, for the purpose of this conversation, is that many today focus on how withdrawn members of the monastic movement were from daily life so much that they fail to see the innumerable acts of intentional mission performed within it. Suffice it to say, that the Moravians provide an excellent example to work with, provided it is recognized that they stood on the shoulders of others and did not represent some entirely new idea.

The New Moravians
The question then is: How could such intentional living impact the difficulties faced by the Church today? This kind of intentional living comes with an impact that has the power to reverse a great many of the problems faced today. What follows will be a brief outline of the impact of a return to Christian community in the Church today.

Many of the problems faced in the Church, especially the western churches, stem from a lack of true Christian community. Despite being active members of local churches, regularly attending services, and even partaking in a plethora of church related activities, many Christians are not in anyway getting the kind of community required for a vital Christian faith. Biblical Christianity cannot be had apart from Biblical community. This is why we are a called out body of believers, not merely called out individuals. The Christian life can simply not be attained without Christian fellowship.

This is particularly true when we are talking about purity and relevance. Purity cannot be maintained in the face of a hostile post-modern society without a community for support. Even if a theoretical individual had the will not to give into perceived social pressures, the ability to recognize the numerous areas where ground had already been given would be absent. Only in community can individuals see the dangerous flaws in the societies they have grown up in and then actively reject those flaws through their actions. This is a process, it doesn’t happen over night; but it can’t even begin if there apart from a group of people doing life together.

Without community, Christianity is also largely irrelevant. The Gospel was written for communities, not individuals. The command to love one another only applies if there are others to love. How can the transforming power of the Gospel be modeled before a broken world, unless radical disciples submit themselves fully to the life together. When Christian interaction is limited to intentional times of worship and fellowship and then each believer goes back into a largely secularized environment, what is put on display? Nothing more than the actions of a single individual. However, when a body of people do life together in a way that reflects the love of Christ in them, then their individual witnesses joins together into a compelling case to a different kind of life – a life in Christ. Separated Christians have very little opportunity to impact the world around them, but in intentional community whole communities, and even nations, can be transformed by the power of the Gospel.

Not only is intentional community required for basic Christian life in purity and relevance, it is also vital to the Christian mission. The Moravians successfully sent a disproportionate number of laborers into the harvest field largely because they had the community support structure to do it. There was a community to hold accountable each individual to the call of God to the nations, but there was also community in place to insure that each individual was equipped and supported in living out that call. No one left for the fields unsure of who would be upholding them in prayer 24 hours a day. In a time when the global leadership of the church must transition, nothing can be more unifying or missional than moving back towards this kind of intentional life together. As the majority world church rises to influence, now is the time to insure that the Church moves forward rooted in solid community, rather than empty times of fellowship.

This isn’t simply a matter of transitioning to a better form of Christian community while we transition to new leadership. Moving towards more intentional community will also make this transition more smooth and effective. The Western Church has gained a tremendous amount of insight, through experience, over the years into how to Biblically and effectively reach the unreached. As much of this knowledge as possible needs to be shared with our brothers and sisters around the world as quickly as possible, so that they can begin to fulfill their role in the mission of God. Unfortunately most Western education structures, among them colleges and seminaries, are not very compatible with the majority world church. Even if they were more compatible, they have often proved to be a barrier to those headed toward full time Christian service. The model Jesus provides for us, and that the Moravians displayed so well for us, is that of the life together. The disciples experiences with Jesus were ultimately the base of their entire ministry in the book of Acts. In the NKJV, Acts 4:13 says of the Pharisees “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” It was this act of doing life together that resulted in the Apostles missional effectiveness and understanding of the Gospel. Life together takes education and information sharing out of the classroom where it is theoretical and out to the streets where it is practical. Not only is this a more effective tool for teaching and equipping God’s people, it is also universally applicable in all cultures because community life is defined by those who live it.

At this point it is clear that community, as modeled for us by Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians, has a powerful impact on Christian living, but what about some of the other 21st Century issues in discussion? In an age where our agriculture system is such clear trouble, there has been a growing movement of people “back to the land” who are focused on subjects like self sufficiency. The reality is, there is no such thing. The success of our ancestors in living sustainably off the land was rooted firmly in community not individualism. That said, if a dedicated community chooses to radically focus on Permaculture as a sustainable design system, it can live in a way that not only protects the community itself from the growing list of short comings of our current system, but that, whether urban or rural, also protects the larger community around it. The ability to design and work together in restoring natural patterns of design in the land, provides the ultimate opportunity for communities to live out the already present positive alternatives to our failing industrial model.

This kind of sustainable living together also answers the questions posed by urban poverty and suffering. Focusing on sustainable food production and high quality community healthcare that combines modern knowledge with natural patterns allows us to not only alleviate the suffering of the poor in the short term, but also to educate poverty out existence by modeling a better way forward. Hands on education that demonstrates the success of those who practice it can cause the whole economics of poverty to be abolished. Especially where we are talking about greening the food deserts and equipping people with the ability to meet their own basic needs. This is especially true when intentional Christian communities make the choice to set up in the heart of poverty blighted urban centers. The end result of this change not only removes poverty, but also makes impossible the all to uncommon exploitation of the poor that is too common today.

Finally solid communities doing life together in a way that is sustainable by design to the glory of Christ are not only hedged from the destructive effects of sin and temptation, but also from global economic uncertainty and the growing push towards statism. How this ecological liberty impacts poverty and redefines local economies has already been discussed, all that needs to be added is that this redefinition removes those local areas from the chaos of global markets by bringing all of the most important economic needs of the community back within the community. When all of these needs are met locally, communities are not so adversely impacted by the larger scale economic problems we face.

Community also lies at the root of solving our problems with the push towards Federal control of everything. First, it reverses the push to honor the state as though it were God through dependency, instead asserting the value of each member of the community to assist in living sustainably before God. Second, in community, those who love their God given liberty can more effectively work to protect it. Since small, self sustaining communities are already economically fairly autonomous and free, they are much less susceptible to being bullied by the State. With so much of the aggressive tyranny happening at the local level, replacing local governments with deliberately free communities puts a stop its growth. Not only that, but the kind of community being discussed here also sets forward a model for free living that can continue regardless of what happens in the country as a whole.

Intentional communal living then is a key tool for educating and equipping the church to carry out its essential mission. In addition, it is the key to sustainable living on this planet and will assuage and shelter against the suffering present and coming in our nation and world. It should be a great comfort that this has been done successfully before, and, while perhaps not being done as completely as discussed here, is being done successfully even in our times. It is time for the Church to make a concentrated effort to return to vital Christian communities, communities that heal people and the earth they inhabit.

The Next Zinzendorf

Only one thing is lacking. The leadership necessary to begin implementing and calling for this change needs to emerge. The Moravian community was successful to a large degree because of the passion and commitment of Count Zinzendorf to the success of Christian community. In a day in age where much of the Church has moved far away from such principles of community, it will take strong leadership to return to it. The call and push towards effective community is urgent and time is moving quickly.

Would the next Count Zinzendorf please stand up?

Of Lambs and Lions

When we were deceived and paradise lost,
When chains of sin encircled our hands and feet,
When generation after generation we could not escape,
The power of sin and death that held us tight,
When in our foolishness we pursued false gods,
Making idols of ourselves and of material things,
Pursuing as gods those things which are not gods,
And binding tighter the shackles of our sin,
A rebel race we were,
Completely estranged from God,

Then You were the Lamb,
Offering freely on the alter,
Your blood to set us free,
Your sacrifice tore the veil of separation,
From top to bottom,
And opened before us the throne of grace,
Our chains were broken,
In the moment of your sacrifice,
Your blood purchased for all our race,
Redemption before the Father.

When in Egypt your people were oppressed by the cruel King,
When Goliath spat out his contempt for you,
When the three Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace,
When Nehemiah rebuilt the wall,
When oppressors surrounded us on every side,
In the moments when there was nowhere else to turn,
In times of fear and darkness,
When evil seems to reign upon the earth,
As the Kings of the earth gathered together against us,
And lay siege to your holy people,

Then you were the Lion,
Your roar shaking the earth,
With your arm outstretched to redeem and save,
You struck the oppressors,
They will never rise back up,
Your arm is might to save,
None can withstand the power of your coming,
In righteousness and justice,
You have removed the cruel oppressors,
And reign in truth and love,

To the unreached child who has never heard your name,
Wrapped in fear and sin,
Worshipping with trembling the evil spirits of the earth,
To the orphan child,
Raised upon the garbage heap,
Ignored by a world that has passed her by,
And that could care less for her needs,
To all those in deep despair,
Hurtling into a future apart from you,
Having never heard your name,

I want to be a lamb,
And sacrifice my life that they may live,
Give up the choice things,
To pursue those on your heart,
To tear down from before their eyes,
The veil that separates them from the Father,
And if necessary bleed and sweat,
To make your sacrifice real to them,
I want to walk in their midst,
In such a way that Jesus walks among them

To the unborn child,
Slain in her mothers womb,
To the child starving to death,
Because cruel war consumes his land,
To the woman tricked into a life of shame,
Bound with oppressive chains and lies,
To the generation for whom liberty ought to be a birthright,
But have instead had it taken away,
And traded for cruel tyranny,
And oppressive destruction

I want to be the Lion,
Let my words be like the roar of justice,
Let roar of righteous truth overwhelm the noise of the crowd,
And cut the through the lies of the destroyer,
I want to take my stand in your strength,
To stop oppression,
And rescue those who are being lead away unto death,
Bringing them safe and sound before your throne,
I want to draw them out from slavery,
And strike the oppressors with the arm of your power

To the countless masses,
Who know not of Jesus Christ,
To the men, women, and children,
Still bound in the darkness by lies,
To those who know not His truth,
Nor the comfort of His voice,
There are over six thousand peoples,
Yet unreached and untouched by this Good News,
The cross is of no effect to them,
Because they have not heard of it

Won’t you come and be a lamb?
Trade in your life of ease and comfort,
And sacrifice your selfish desires,
To bring Christ alive in the midst of them,
Through your own bloody hands and feet,
Will you be the incarnate God among them?
Walking and talking in their streets,
And in so doing tearing down the veil,
Be a lamb revealing Christ’s love to thousands,
Let redemption flow from your hands and feet

To the children starving to the point of death,
Despite an abundance on the earth,
To the earth abused and cruelly treated,
To the point of infertility,
To our nation,
Staggering on the brink of collapse,
To your children ensnared by the cruel lies of our times,
To all of the abused and outcasts of this earth,
In times of deep darkness and oppression,
When all the lights in their universe have gone out,

Will you come and be a lion?
A bright light in a world of deep darkness,
Will you shake to pieces the chains of oppression,
With the might of the Spirit that is in you?
Demonstrate the righteous wrath of God against injustice,
And trample the oppressors under your feet,
In you will the arm of The Lord be revealed,
Become again a city of light,
Fight against oppression with a Holy vengeance,
And set free the oppressed to know the love of their Father.

We are, each and everyone,
Called to be lambs and lions,
In a world of hurt and pain,
In a world of oppression and evil,
The righteous light must shine forth,
Full of hope for the hurting,
And strength for the captive,
To redeem and rescue a world in need,
Christ calls out to you and me,
Won’t you come and be a lamb?
Won’t you come and be a lion?

The Reward of the Lamb

“May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”

– The final words of two of the early Moravian missionaries as they sailed intentionally
into a life of slavery for the sake of the Gospel.

And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign[b] on the earth.”

-Revelation 5:9-10

The Father has ordained that Jesus should be glorified and worshiped by members of every tribe, tongue, and nation as a consequence of His purchasing them with His blood upon the cross.

The events of the cross should not be taken out of their place in history, rather the entire Bible is the story of God’s redemptive plan to rescue mankind from our own sinful condition. The cross and the resurrection represent the most crucial event in this ongoing plan of God to redeem people to Himself. Therefore, we should recognize that God’s ongoing plan to reach all nations as originally laid before Abraham in Genesis 12, is an ongoing work.

While Jesus’ death ultimately made the way to God free for all who would call upon the name of Jesus, the veil before God’s presence being torn asunder, ultimately we the church have now been entrusted with carrying the task to completion. We have been charged with the task of, through the power of the Holy Spirit, preaching the Gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation that some would turn to Christ Jesus and give Him all of their worship.

This should be a joyous task for us. So often we make out as though it were a burden, or a great sacrifice to maintain active involvement in the mission of God’s people. Yet we are seeking to give the righteous reward to Him who suffered, died, and rose again to purchase our freedom and place before God. Instead of acting as though this were a great sacrifice, we should recognize that we have been purchased and adopted through a far greater sacrifice and that any action we take is for the love of our savior.

Have you advanced the Kingdom of the Lamb today?

Ecology and Global Disciplemaking

Considering that the creation mandate to take stewardship over the Earth and care for it properly never went away, and also considering that mass starvation, illness, etc. will have strongly negative consequences for everyone, but especially “the least of these”; I have long considered returning to a more normal ecology to be an integral part of the Mission of God’s people on earth. To accomplish a more normal ecology will, however, require significant cultural change. We will have to see a massive deurbanization as more loving stewards move back to the land, as a result there will be a massive cultural and economic shift back to the rural, as well as back to local. In order to fix our global ecological issues this will have to take place at the global level. Because this change will be so radical, we must ask ourselves how this will affect global discipleship.

In the first place urbanization has, without a doubt, greatly increased the ability of the church to access many unreached people groups that previously were very difficult to minister to due to geographic and political barriers. In many cases, here in these United States today, there are immigrant and student populations of unreached peoples on our own soil, living in major cities. However, accessibility should not be confused with receptivity. While urbanization has made some parts of discipleship easier, it has made others harder. Urbanites have much shorter, and often more disjointed relationship chains. Whereas, with the correct approach, the Gospel will flow very rapidly through existing relationship structures to reach a rural people, this growth is often dwarfed in urban cultures simply because those relationship structures don’t exist. For this reason, I would suggest than any access issues than urbanization has assisted with are offset by the difficulty of transmitting the Gospel throughout the entirety of a people group.

Urbanization and the False Gospel of Prosperity

An even larger issue, as far as I am concerned, is whether or not the Gospel being transmitted is pure and true. Now before I really launch into this, let me stop and say this: I am not accusing any church, mission agency, or other organization of deliberately teaching a false Gospel. As a general rule those involved in Mission are more detached from the false elements present throughout our church culture today; but it is often very difficult to separate yourself from the culture you were born into and this in turn can make it very hard to disentangle the Gospel message.

The problem I am seeing and experiencing is that Western, urban, materialistic culture is in direct contradiction to the Gospel; that is the values of urban culture are opposed to the Scriptural commands and values. All the emphasis on material wealth, and on prosperity in our culture has resulted in a Gospel diluted with promises of worldly wealth and prosperity. As a add on to this dangerous belief set, it then becomes hard for people who are materially “blessed” to recognize the lack of holiness and godliness in their lives. After all, if God is blessing me I must be doing everything right, yes? This wealth also sneaks in and steals away the church’s dependance on God. With an insurance policy for everything, and massive cash reserves its no wonder most people hardly recognize the old term “Divine Providence”.
A people who live on the land, can have the bounty of the earth without ever losing sight of the visceral connection between there hard work and their dependance on God’s grace. Returning to the land, almost automatically cuts modern humans back down to size. In the manmade world of cities, it is easy to gain a false sense of importance; but in the vastness of creation remembrance comes of the One who is actually sovereign. It is clear to one who works the earth, that the food it produces is the product of some unspeakable miracle. Shopping at the grocery store will give the impression that food comes from money, money “I” worked hard for.

While I do believe that there are some who can live in urban environments and still keep themselves pure from the prevailing materialism, indeed some are likely called to do so; for most this urban culture has lead them astray from the true Gospel and sent them off chasing wealth as fast as they can get it.

I would suggest that it is the bigger, cheaper, more convenient mentality of urban culture that has largely driven the modern church to give up discipleship and turn instead to numbers and marketing. Discipleship represents stewardship and slow growth, values best taught by those in a proper ecological relationship with the earth. Quick progress and rapid results are the goals of an urban culture that is used to everything being handed to it like a fast food hamburger.

Only a move back to a heathy ecological relationship with the earth, our younger sister whose care we have been charged with, will give us the edge necessary to stamp out materialism from the Gospel we preach.

Busyness, the Urbanite versus the Small Farmer

It is no secret that modern urban people have filled their lives with all kinds of activity and rarely have time to do anything very meaningful. Some of these useless activities could be pretty easily replaced with activities that actually impact global disciple making, but some of them can’t be. At this point in time it has gotten very, very difficult to maintain a family on a single income; this is particularly true for younger workers in entry level jobs. The result is that children not only rarely see there fathers anymore, but now they rarely see their mothers either. One of the most central and basic ways of fulling the command to make disciples, the discipling and raising of children, has been outsourced almost entirely to the state and a group of experts at church. This alone has severely impacted gospel growth, and now according to some statistics we are confronting a generation of young people in which only 4% embrace a Biblical gospel.

This busyness gets far worse though, just ask yourself, or one of your friends, to make some sort of long term time commitment to reach the unreached. Try to get involved in working with international students or immigrants from unreached groups in your city. The time commitment involved is often fairly significant, perhaps 10-15 hours a week. Most people have a very hard time swinging this. Now I am not trying to criticize anyone, this problem stems from the nature of modern, urban life. When you spend the best 50-60 hours of the week, depending on your commute, at work; then it becomes very difficult to do anything other than come home, eat dinner, tuck the kids in, and spend a few precious moments with your spouse before falling asleep. By Saturday you are so behind on things around the house that between that and a little family activity the whole day is over before it starts. Sunday you go to church and put the kids to bed early in preparation for the new week and it all starts over. Worst of all, this process doesn’t stop it goes on and on week after week all year. There are no seasons, no rest times, just a few weeks of vacation and perhaps a holiday here and there.

This level of busyness has a strong effect on the Faith. First of all it keeps God’s people from being able to commit to ministry, but even more importantly it keeps them to busy for Him. Things like daily bible reading and prayer get completely passed over in the mad rush that is your average day for most modern Christians. It is no wonder our faith is weak when no one has time to spend with its author and perfecter.

Compare this to the hard working farmer out in his fields. His work is seasonal, during certain seasons he may work 80 hours or more, during other seasons the farm nearly shuts down. Even during these busy seasons the work is communal. If he has to work by himself the farmer’s thoughts are largely uninterrupted as he goes about more day to day activities, the days more difficult challenges will require some thought, but the steady daily chores can be done while remaining in a quiet state of fellowship with nature and nature’s God. The farmer also rarely has to work alone, all the work can be done communally. If family is important, the family can come participate. Children love gathering eggs, feeding animals, and playing in the dark dirt of the garden. It’s all like a giant playground to them, and so in a normal ecology children are with their parents most of the day. Others can be to, and as illustrate throughout our history books, often have been. Communities work together to accomplish goals and spend the days together. If a farmer wants to spend time with a international student or someone else, then that person can come tag along with him and will likely enjoy seeing what life on an American farm is like anyway. The farmer can actually do life with people, the urbanite is unable to do this because his occupation is so disjointed from his life.

In the winter as things slow down, a farm community can pretty easily afford to let several of its families go out of the community for several months for ministry, most employers would never allow someone to just take off work for 3 months or more.

From all this I gather, that the farmer first of all is rooted much deeply in the community around him. As a result they will all me mutually strengthened by each other’s faith. The urbanite has to make time to spend with people, in many cases he won’t even see many people at work because he is locked in a tiny box. The farmer has a strong family, held together by large amounts of quality time, shared hardships, and communal labor this gives the farm family a strong base for doing ministry together. The urbanite is fortunate if he can hold is family together long enough for his kids to graduate high school because he rarely sees them. The farm community has time to do things with and for people, the urban world is far to busy. From this I conclude that move back to a normal ecology, with more people on the land would free up more laborers, particularly those with a strong community and family foundation for ministry and mission.

Conclusion

It is my belief that a return to a more normal ecology would fix many of the larger problems the western church is facing today. Strong families and strong communities means stronger churches. Men and women who actually have time to spend with God and to observe His power constantly on display in creation are much more likely recognize their full dependance on Him and to acknowledge His total sovereignty. A stronger faith and more pure Gospel results in a better accomplishment of Mission and a more steady development of disciples globally and locally. The earth is a mess today as a result of our modern culture and ecological practices, there are people going hungry who just a few decades ago knew how to feed themselves. The age of cheap energy will be ending soon, and when it does we will be forced to return to the a more normal ecology, the benefits of which I have just described. The Church today is faced with a choice: Do we embrace this change and work to holistically solve these problems, or do we fight the change and let the problems run us over?

Daily Scripture Meditation

1 Samuel 17: 45-47 NKJV “Then David said to the Philistine [Goliath], “You come to me with a a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of The Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day The Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that The Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”

Frequently when we teach these Old Testament Bible stories, especially to children, we miss the most important part of the story. This story in particular is often used to demonstrate that God is with us or that we should have courage in facing adversity. While all of these things are true, they miss the biggest point.

David did not go after Goliath because Israel needed to be rescued, he went after Goliath because he perceived Goliath’s challenge as an affront and reproach against the name and glory of God. This zeal for the name and glory of God caused David to face down Goliath with total confidence that The Lord would deliver him into his hands, as is clear from David’s words just before he attacks Goliath.

Not only is David concerned about God’s reputation, but specifically he is concerned about God’s reputation to all the nations of the earth in demonstrating His power to save His people. The story isn’t just about God saving His people from an oppressor, it is about God’s name being glorified to the ends of the earth, which is ultimately what all of scripture is about.

The entire Bible is about God’s glory and salvation being proclaimed to all nations of the earth, make sure you don’t miss it. Look for this, the underlying theme of the whole Bible, in each and every passage you read and ask yourself two questions: 1. How does this story or teaching fit in with the big picture of God’s glory and worship going forth to every tribe, tongue, and nation? 2. What does this passage teach about my role in causing God’s glory and worship to go forth to every tribe, tongue, and nation?

Are you like David? Would you have taken an affront to God’s name and reputation seriously enough to go to battle with a giant? Or are you more worried about giving offense to the culture around you?

The Bard’s Call

This will be permanently posted to “The Bard’s Call” page, I hope this serves as adequate introduction to what I intend to convey in these writings.

The Mission of thetonedeafbard

It has been my conviction for quite some time now that America, and the world, are in desperate need of the return of the bards. I suppose the idea first took root in reading Stephen R. Lawhead’s King Raven Trilogy, but whatever the case, it quickly took root. The bards of old were not merely singers or minstrels, which is how we have tended to think of them as we quickly brush past the notion. Rather, they were their cultures primary protectors. They maintained their people’s history, cultural significance, and spiritual vitality in an oral format that was available to all. For this reason they were valued highly by those they chose to serve.

Our culture, here in the United States, has been deteriorating pretty quickly the last 60 years or so, and the only thing that will ultimately put an end to this deterioration is for us to return back the way we came. The trouble is, both in our churches and in our culture, we are quickly losing the old path. For this reason, I call on anyone reading this to take up the role of bard in your community. Like me, you probably can’t sing like the bards of old; in fact the best I can do is the odd bit of prose or poetry. You can, however, relearn the things that are slipping away, and then translate them into and easily taught oral form so that you can pass them on. It is my hope that as you do, I will be able to provide you with some thoughts and resources to guide you in your journey. In doing this I will pin the key topics of discussion into the three larger categories of Faith, Liberty, and Sustainability; but much of the time all of the categories will run together. In doing so my focus will be, not on the problems that all American’s are increasingly aware of, but rather on solutions both in terms of practical application as well as worldview changes.

Faith

Without a return to a Biblical Faith, the United States of America will most certainly fall never to rise again. The call to repentance needs to be going forth even now as instead the promise of prosperity is offered again and again. The following are the most important aspects of Faith I will cover:


Mission
: A Biblical Faith recognizes the heart of God for the nations as revealed in Scripture. It refuses to be absorbed in itself or its own culture and broadens its perspective to the advance of God’s Kingdom among every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Scripture: It is not possible to have true, Biblical Faith without placing full authority in the Word of God as revealed in the book we usually call the Bible. Biblical Faith allows the reader to be challenged to fresh obedience by the Holy Scriptures each day, rather than attempting to conform the precepts of scripture to his or her existing lifestyle.

Holiness: God’s people are called to be set apart from the world around them, as such a Biblical Faith challenges all the preconceptions of the culture it is set in. In particular, practical holiness in the United States today will largely require a rejection of the values and priorities of the materialistic American culture.

History: A faithful bard is able not only to teach the essentials of faith from his or her own knowledge of scripture, but studies diligently the writings of the saints of old. In particular it is wise to know the teachings of those who most intimately knew and studied the apostles teachings. In addition, the Apostles Creed sums up the core belief system necessary for all believers in all ages past, present, and future.

Prayer: Many American’s are deeply concerned about the fact that prayer has largely been removed from America’s public life, particularly her schools. I am much more deeply concerned by the lack of prayer in American homes. We have been come an increasingly prayerless people. In order to to see a change in our nation, we must each take up the call to prayer in our homes, carrying the cry for revival before God for both ourselves and our nation.

Liberty

Our nation was founded on the belief that “all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain rights”. Lately, this essential human liberty has come more and more under attack. In order to preserve it there are several areas I believe we must focus our discussion on:

Constitutional Government: The Constitution of the United States represents the best form of government ever attempted. It is by no means perfect, being a work of mankind; but by nature of its being the first government ever attempted that would simultaneously recognize the divine rights possessed by each man at birth and the tendency of man’s sinful nature to corrupt the government, it has served as the best vanguard human happiness and liberty has ever had. In order to return to the state of liberty envisioned by our founding fathers, together we must know and learn to interpret the Constitution for ourselves. This includes enforcing Constitutional controls on our elected representatives. The time to begin restoring our Republic is now!

Firearms Freedom: Men who are unable to defend themselves are defacto slaves to those who defend them. The second amendment of the Constitution has lately been under constant attack. If we lose this battle, then any hope of restoring our liberty will be gone with it. For this reason we need to be actively discussing not just the Constitutional protection for our firearms ownership, but also the reasons why it exists.

Food Freedom: Like men without arms, men who can no longer feed themselves are servants to those who feed them. They cannot revolt for fear of starvation. America’s small farms, and recently even home gardens, have come more and more under attack from government at all levels and from the big corporations that largely run our government. This discussion, like the fight that it represents, must be two fold: We must relearn the ways our ancestors cooked, ate, and provided their own food, and secondly we must resist both legislatively and through civil disobedience all attacks on our right to grow and consume food of our choice.

History and Civics: Studying just the Constitution will be inadequate to preserve our liberty. The American people need to be reminded of who they are. We have become more and more a nation of cowards who turns to the government every time we see something that needs to be changed. Only in relearning and retelling the stories that make us who we are, in restudying the events that birthed our nation, the men who founded it and their writings, and the actions of countless ordinary Americans that made it what it was and will be again; can we recapture our sense of who we are. As the old stories begin to take root, Americans will begin to think and act like Americans again; and when they do no force will be able to keep them from restoring this nation to liberty and godliness.

Sustainability

The pillars of American society today are largely built on lies. We dwell in times of extreme false security. In order to survive we must recognize that our society has drifted too far from the norms of human existence that have been divinely instituted for our protection and move to go back towards more normal behavior. This will involve the process of recognize and rejected the lies we have told ourselves as a society and then taking positive action to be prepared for the time when this house of cards ultimately comes down. Theres are several areas that stand out more than the others:

Agriculture: More than just a liberty issue, the issue of food in our nation must be resolved. The system as it is cannot stand and will ultimately result in widespread famine if it is not corrected in time. As people of faith, and lovers of liberty, we must be an active part of the solution to this problem and not just unwilling participants in a failing system.

Energy Independence: For all the talk of national energy independence, personal energy independence is a much easier place to start. Together lets begin looking for small ways to decrease our need for outside energy sources, as well as ways to produce or store as much of the energy that we require as possible. A multitude of small changes is the only way to create a larger change.

Spirit-Sufficiency: I use this phrase to poorly worded phrase “self-sufficiency”. Clearly no one can actually be self sufficient. Instead the struggle should be in finding a community of people where you can be relationally dependent on one another and Divine Providence, without requiring constant outside help in the form of food, income, etc. This not only represents a more safe and healthy way to live as people, but it reactivates our recognition of the need for God’s on going grace in our lives.

I hope that, together, we can begin to stop dreaming about things being different than they are and instead begin to be the change that is needed.