I woke up one morning after the Trump election had taken place

I woke up one morning after the Trump election had taken place, and I realized I had yet to fundamentally grasp how important it was that my life be something different from now on. In so many ways, I was still trying to be a worldly person.

Surely, the mission that I am on should be very much focused on helping real people out in the real world. But, the ultimate question of ends and means is all based around a promise of eternal salvation.

In other words, it shouldn’t matter in the least if I receive no recognition here on earth for the things I do. Therefore, every single thought, word and deed become determined by something radically different. In many ways, it is a freedom that I haven’t remotely begun to explore. I, like anyone else in my culture, have been conditioned and programmed to believe that worldly recognition matters. A salary matters. Awards, acclamation, titles, etc. matter. Even when I am filling out the questionnaires for the ordination process, they want me to know how I’ve been recognized by other human beings. All of that matters only so much–to get me from a tiny point A to a tiny point B.

At the end of my life, if my name isn’t widely known, and my writing is completely deleted or forgotten, that’s okay. The mission should always be about progress internally to completely re-orient myself on the focus of being able to spend eternity with the triune God.

Because that is the focus, minute decisions become different sorts of decisions. I am always asking myself: does this really matter? Does it matter if someone frowns disapprovingly because I chose to not go to church this week, or I chose to go to a different church this week? Does it matter if I update my wardrobe every year? Does it even matter if I successfully finish this MDiv program?

It shouldn’t be about trying to radically depart from all social convention, but it should be about freeing myself up and not narrowly defining myself by some kind of rigid expectations. I should be constantly praying for opportunities to become more oriented toward God, and more focused on God’s love for me and more focused on ways in which I can express that love to others.

I don’t need to own all of these books, anymore. I should be fully prepared to let them go in the near future. I can free myself up from having an acquisitive nature–constantly looking for new things that I might need.

I don’t need to worry about my hair anymore. I can use up the bottles of stuff that I have lying around and stop buying more products. My hair is going to do what it will do. I don’t need to worry about having enough money anymore. God will provide. If we run out of money while we are here at seminary, and I am unable to get any scholarships, then I will go back to work.

The major things that happened to inform me of just how little I am in control of my future: the election, the presbytery’s decision to not allow me to become an inquirer for a full year, L’s trip to the hospital.

All of these things significantly impacted my equilibrium and knocked out any sense I had of being in control of my future. The future is in the Lord’s hands. I will do seminary as long as we as a family can afford it. Then, I will either be a pastor, chaplain or a professor. If none of those work, I will go back into sales and marketing or get a bang up Linux Sysadmin certification and be a lowly IT guy somewhere. The reality is that I am always going to be in lowly positions. I am not hardwired to be an alpha leader, to boss people around, or get caught up in trying to persuade large numbers of people to think differently.

I don’t think the world really needs another person like that. I think that in the kingdom of heaven, none of us will be alpha leader types. There is one King, the rest of us are servants and followers. But, we are also brothers and sisters. We revel in an ordinate sort of glory–it is a glory that has propped us up of God’s accord and grace. Therefore, we have no business lording any special talents or gifts that we have over others, because nothing we have is due to our own merit or industry.

The kingdom of heaven probably looks to be more socialist than capitalist, but there is no top-down regulation of the group sharing mechanism–we all share because we are freely giving what is freely given.

It may be a year, it may be ten years, it may be fifty, but no more than that

It may be a year, it may be ten years, it may be fifty, but no more than that. The United States will break apart, and undergo a massive shift into becoming an aggregate of warring nation states that don’t recognize each other. We will read about parts of the US as we read about Aleppo today. The ability for a future generation to sustain the kind of success that the U.S. has enjoyed since WWII, as a collective whole, is nigh impossible. There are two countries here, at least. It won’t be another civil war like the one we’ve already had.

If I ever come back

If I ever come back, I want to come back as a male who is completely and without question bound for the monastery. This world, and all that it promises and fails to deliver, has shown me its full hand. Why no one else can see what I see, I don’t know. The very best you can hope to be in a worldly sense of the world is always someone or something one dimensional, shallow, hollow, empty.

The promise that the world will take care of me and my family, that it will provide, is an understood promise that was never given, but always expected to be accepted without question. Of course, any day, all day, you will be able to find recourse to justice and protection in the rule of law, and you will be able to obtain the best possible health care when you and yours are sick.

The services rendered come with an enormous bill. You must either pretend that you believe your country is the greatest country ever created and ever will be created, or show unquestioning faith in the god of science. Or both. If you can’t perform either function, then you better have deep pockets. A poor man who no longer believes his country is the end all be all and no longer believes that science will solve all of the problems of the world is a man without a place to rest his head. Even those in his church will look at him askance when he declares that he can only ultimately depend on the Lord.

I am not blessed with prophetic vision yet, but I can catch glimpses of the end of our civilization. Science won’t save us from ourselves. More money spent on the military in the name of patriotism won’t save us. More money spent to make more money won’t save us. It won’t even save Donald Trump, though he may seem to be safe and secure for a while while we suffer.

Did we think that we could be the kind of civilization that we’ve been and not suffer the consequences?

All around me, from within and without, there will be forces trying to knock me back down

All around me, from within and without, there will be forces trying to knock me back down. The goal isn’t to be pretty good, barely saved, decently and acceptably righteous, the goal is to have a complete immersion in the glory that is my salvation. In doing so, the inevitable attempts to make me full of anger and lust will come from so many places. I have to be on the watch for any and every attempt, because it should be a given by now that this will happen.

I may not wish to end up as a spirit-filled Pentecostal Egelical, but I do think there is merit in spending free time trying to focus on becoming better aligned with God and the working of the Spirit, reading the Bible and praying, rather than devoting free time to reading random things in the news that I have no control over.

The key here is to always be working to re-align myself with God. I don’t want to develop another hobby or pastime, or get caught up in some new TV show. For me, the process must be continuous, as much as possible, given that I am still a husband and a father with worldly duties. However, until the day comes when the State wishes to restrict my religious freedoms, I have all of the freedom in the world to spend my free time as I see fit.

Even when that time comes, I shouldn’t cease, but perhaps then I will begin to see how I might become a martyr.

Now, in these days, the time for believing in petty glory must cease

Now, in these days, the time for believing in petty glory must cease. The time for sinning as if there were plenty more tomorrows for redemption has ended. All of the constant worrying and fretting over what other people are saying and thinking can no longer be a part of the daily routine. At the end of the day, there will be at least one person criticizing you for bothering to get out of bed and one criticizing you for staying in bed if you decide to stay. No choice you make will be without some little, petty critic whining in your ear. The time has come to listen for the voice of God.

If God says to stay, then stay. If God says get up and go, then go. It is that simple. There are no other factors to consider. But, you must understand that if you want to follow in this path, you can’t fall back into sin just for fun, just to let off steam just to take a break, etc. There is none of that, because that is exactly how and when you stop turning toward God and being able to hear his voice. From that moment forward, you hear only your voice and the voices of others echoing in your head until you finally pick one at random and decide to act on it, and this is never good.

This week has made me literally sick

This week has made me literally sick. The uneasy fear that I am about to step into a world where the wrong decision will see me lose my head or lose my soul is a fear that will be with me now for years to come. For the past few weeks, I was caught up in my personal issues around whether I even wanted to bother becoming an ordained minister. I was bothered by things that seem to be mostly non-starters now.

Trump reminds me of the leader of the people in Las Vegas in the book The Stand. The Walkin’ Dude. Only, he’s not out in Vegas while we are on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. He’s in Washington, and we are sitting in his crosshairs whether we like it or not. Is Trump the Antichrist? Quite possibly. There haven’t been any other Presidential candidates who have come close. And now, he is going to be the President.

Maybe he won’t be so bad as the Antichrist, perhaps just another Hitler, Mussolini or Stalin. Maybe he won’t be quite that bad, but just be like Berlusconi, or perhaps a run-of-the-mill bad guy dictator who declares martial law, makes the U.S. his little fiefdom, and drains all of the natural resources to benefit his children and his friends.

Would running off to New Zealand do us any good? Only in a limited scenario where Trump is as bad as Hitler, and somehow the global economy manages to be a certain way that enables me to continue living and working in New Zealand with my family. Almost any other scenario would either see NZ not being enough, or overkill as a response to the Trump presidency.

There once was a time when I still believed

There once was a time when I still believed that I would be a somebody who called the shots, controlled things, influenced the destiny of the world. My little brother’s death should have put an end to it, but somehow, it didn’t. I wasn’t sure where I got my special powers from when I stopped believing God had much of anything to do with me, but I was still certain that I was more special than most everyone else.

I feel very small tonight. I am powerless. The world is not my world. I am not the world’s. Those who belong in it are made of something else. I don’t know if I ever fully resolved whether God wanted to take me back, but I have hope that he does. My hope doesn’t ever completely go away, so maybe that’s a gift from God.