The Barbarian with a Bible

The kingdom needs more barbarians-

 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.  So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. Romans 1:14,15 NKJV

During the dark ages, Europe was caught in the grip of the feudal system, living in squalor as peasants; controlled and used basically as slave labor and soldiers at the whim of a few very wealthy people—the nobles, who controlled all wealth and land. But even they served an even higher power; the Church, the final— yet powerful— vestige of the Roman Empire; the Holy Roman church, holding the power of heaven and hell to be dispensed at their will, often to manipulate and embezzle.

Then along comes the Vikings; raiding, burning, and killing. Free men who bowed down to no one, taking what they wanted with ferocious and terrifying efficiency, striking out of nowhere and disappearing again on the waves of the sea in their dragon headed long ships that would come to be the stuff of nightmares for generations.

“Save us, O Lord, from the wrath of the Norseman!” –barbarians-new-logoA prayer on the lips of many for generations.

Their prime targets were those very same churches who had themselves pillaged an entire populace using the threat of hell like a double edged sword. Their imposing high steepled churches and their monasteries— where all the wealth they had absconded was hoardedwere easy pickings for those who answered to no one, certainly not to those who called themselves priests of some foreign God. They had no respect nor fear for this bunch of soft bellied weak limbed men, whose hands craved the feel of gold and but blanched at the steel of the sword hilt. Men who had never torn their hands pulling on an oar yet, worshiped a God whose flesh had been ripped to shreds by the so called civilized.

But as these easy targets began to be fewer and farther between, these freebooting barbarians began to see that there was more money to be had—a better lot for their families and a much better chance of going home at the end of an adventure— if they turned their energies to trading. Thus they became the first to tie the world back together after centuries of fracture; the east to the west, England to France and Germany, Russia to Constantinople.

They discovered new lands in the west; Greenland, Iceland and Vinland and established trade routes between them and Ireland, Scotland and Wales, even building port cities such as Dublin, York, Kiev and Reykjavik which still thrive today. Suddenly Bagdad and Constantinople could trade with Iceland, Greenland and Vinland and all points in between.

Isolated, dark corners of the world, where people had only heard legends and fables of other far-away places, became international hubs for trade as those long ships they once feared, carried goods, news and people from exotic places they never dreamed existed, let alone could trade with.

Because of a bunch of barbarians the world became a much smaller place, as the Scandinavians became the distributers of the world’s wealth and resources. Languages and information were shared across the world, the lost wisdom of the ages, of Socrates and Plato, ferreted away in the quickly shrinking Byzantine empire of the east, was once again sparking a desire, and laying the groundwork, for all of Europe and the middle east to once again seek out and understand that there is an order and a science to this world we live in; that an intelligent God did create this world to be a good and just place for us to live.

Because the barbarians rocked the boat, broke down the barriers, the world began to see that there was so much more to this world—to this life—than just surviving another day. That man could achieve and improve his lot, and low and behold; the renaissance happened, followed closely by the reformation and of course the Christianization of those Viking barbarians as they put away the sword of conquest in favor of the living sword- the Bible. Yet the conquest continued.

Once those barbarians got a hold of the truth, there was another revolution as the Germans, the Saxons and Celts- the Brits, the French, and Scandinavians—and so on—sought out and fought for their right to worship their God; to live as free men and women who could work hard, pray harder, and live the life they chose while benefiting from the fruits of their own labor.

All of this culminating and finding it’s truest expression in the land and country called America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, extending across a continent first seen as a cold and unwelcoming distant land by those barbarian raiders and traders almost 500 hundred years before the first civilized Christian ever knew it existed; the land once called Vinland and inhabited by another race of barbarian that the Vikings had decided to let have the land, the Vikings called them Skraeling—wild men. Columbus would call them Indians. At least the Vikings were smart enough to know they weren’t in India.

The Spirit of the Barbarian

So when I talk about being a barbarian; it’s the spirit of adventure and courage, the desire to make things happen, to advance and enhance whatever agenda I have determined is worthy of my efforts no matter what or who would try and stop me. I know my ancestry and that I am descended from many of those northern tribes once called barbarian. Primarily the Scandinavian, Dutch, Irish and English all delightfully mixed together and deposited here today in the middle of Montana as a sort of Barbarian smoothie. 

But I am a “barbarian with a Bible meaning that barbarian propensity towards getting it done, making it happen; ‘I have made up my mind and you had better not get in my way’ spirit of freedom— is tempered and directed by the black and white, ‘this is right and this is wrong’— Laws of my God and by the Spirit of truth that lives within my heart, and I no longer live and fight to gratify the desires of the flesh, but my energies are now expended towards living for the Spirit and advancing his Kingdom, and you still had better not in get in my way.

No doubt many of you also, are descendants of some of those barbarians as well, and you have that same heritage and spirit. In reality pretty much every race and people has a barbarian past, some older, some more recent. The ones north of Rome just happen to be the ones who got the name Barbarian. I believe that deep within the heart of every person is the desire for a straightforward; ‘Don’t mess with me or mine and we’ll be fine, tell me no lies and I’ll trust you with my life and give mine for you’ kind of spirit.

And when focused, empowered and tempered by the truth of God’s word and by the living word—Jesus Christ— we, the church, the gentiles grafted into the Kingdom to share in the inheritance first promised to the descendants of Abraham, are unstoppable, uncontainable, and will not be deterred- unless we choose to allow ourselves to be. And that is what this barbarian blog and my ministry is all about; learning to storm the gates of hell, set the captives free from their chains of slavery imposed on them by nobles and priests, and knowing when to stop, throw up our visors, wipe the sweat off our brows, and glory in the simple pleasures on the sun on our faces, the cool breeze in our hair, and the camaraderie of our brothers and sisters in arms.

The Kingdom needs us barbarians. The church has forgotten the fulfillment and the pure joy of victory that is to be had in fighting, and winning the right battles, the simple pleasures of a life of freedom and the importance of defending it. The church has enough politicians and philosophers; it’s time to take hold of the life to which we were called -to fight the good fight fearlessly and wholeheartedly.

12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God who gives life to all things, 1 Tim 6

 

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Shame Kills There is a Godly conviction that leads to repentance, it gives us the wisdom and desire to turn away from something, to turn to God for help—and he gives it. That’s different from shame. Shame makes us turn away from God, quite the opposite of conviction.

Conviction is the voice inside of you that says you are doing the wrong thing, it may be your conscience or it may be the Holy Spirit, in either case it is a good thing that hopefully prompts you to do the right thinshamelessg.

 

Shame on the other hand is a deep seated soul eating feeling of despair from which there may seem to be no escape and rather than prompting us to do the right thing it can quite often have the opposite effect and drive us right into the thing that caused the shame in the first place.  Worse, it keeps us running, and or, hiding from God.

Conviction makes us dig in and try harder. Shame beats us down and makes us give up; leaves us hopeless.  That’s not what our God offers:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 10: 9-11

Poop on the floor

I remember when I was in 1st grade in the little town of Cloquet Minnesota we had our Gym Class in the cafeteria.  I remember very little about this class, but I remember well the day we were doing calisthenics and we were all spread out across the cafeteria/Gym in our designated spots and the teacher told us to get on the floor and do sit ups.  I looked down on the floor to where I was supposed to lay and saw what I was sure was poop.  I know this sounds gross and I have no idea where it came from but my 6 year old mind was convinced that somehow someone had left a couple of  brown nuggets on the floor.

Now maybe it was part of a brownie, I don’t know, but I was not going anywhere near it.  I raised my hand and explained to the teacher that I could not get down in my designated spot because there was poop on the floor.  Surely no one could expect me to sit in such unsanitary conditions.  The teacher came over quite brusquely, glanced quickly at the floor and declaring it poop free commanded me to drop.

I refused.  She became quite upset and began berating me, I don’t remember what she said, only that I was quite dismayed and quite bewildered that she would not recognize a turd for a turd; this was grade school, was it that absurd that someone may have had an accident and had something roll out of their pants?

Apparently it was and I was dubbed a fool.  At the end of class she had me stand next to her in the hallway after my classmates had gone back to their room and declared to the next class that was coming in that ‘I was naughty and would not listen to the teacher’— Something to that effect. All I remember for sure is that she was doing everything she could to embarrass me, to shame me.

But I was not having it because I knew I did not deserve it.  She was not about to shame me because I would not accept it.  All she did was make me hate Gym class and convince me that she was mean and unreasonable.  The worst part to me was, no one cleaned up the floor for the next class.  Gross!

Thots

We are trained from earliest childhood to accept shame whether deserved or not.  We are trained to dish it out, deserved or not, every chance we get.  In the classroom, on the playground, in our homes and even in our churches. Too many lives have been destroyed, too many people have been alienated from the church when they needed them the most because they were put to shame.  I find it all very disturbing.

Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame”  A pretty bold statement, yet how often do we judge  people in the light of shame, how long do we hold them there?  How can we do to our brothers and sisters what the Lord says cannot happen?  Can believers do shameful things? Yes, it’s called sin and as John said,

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8

But they can be forgiven, the very next verse says:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

And thus the shame is removed, the stain is gone, the page torn out and thrown away, at least from God’s book.  How about yours?  Do you have a book of offenses?  Offenses you have committed and offenses others have committed against you?  You need to tear out those pages and throw them away “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified” not your actions, and the same goes for those around you.  You are not their judge, only God can see the heart.

He sees yours— and he loves you.