Freedom

 

“Barbarian’s cherished above most all other virtues- freedom. Freedom to live, love and laugh, freedom to be who they were, freedom to work, sweat and bleed to better their lot…”

In the early days of the church a debate raged amongst the Jewish believers and apostles: ‘What do we do with all these gentiles, these barbarians, who are believing in our Messiah anviking_warrior_by_g_freeman200-d4bcjlfd receiving the Holy Spirit?’ They are uncircumcised, ignorant of the Law of God and just downright unholy!’

So they have a little meeting in Jerusalem—the Barbarian Council— and debate the matter. But the evidence of the Holy Spirit is indisputable and the words of Jesus and the prophets of old leave them little choice but to concede that yes, these barbarian hordes coming to f
aith in Jesus are ordained and loved of God
. So they write a letter to the churches with a list of all the laws, all the rule they must adhere to in order to be citizens in good standing in the Kingdom of heaven and it all boils down to this—over 700 commands from the Old Covenant of the law now replaced by a Covenant of Grace and power and a few suggestions to help avoid the pitfalls of the enemy. Here is that list from their letter:

Greetings. …

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell. Acts:15:28, 29

That’s it, all that the law required from the new believers summed up in one sentence; be careful what you eat, and keep your pants on.  Seems like a strange requirement but these things all had to do with worshipping pagan Gods.  So basically, they were being told: Worship the one true God and him alone.

The barbarian way of life, the driving force, the reason they fought and resisted the Roman onslaught, the Greek invasion before that, the reason they lived in the north where the civilized were afraid or ill prepared and unwilling to survive, was because they cherished above most all other virtues- freedom. Freedom to live, love and laugh, freedom to be who they were, freedom to work, sweat and bleed to better their lot for themselves and their families. Even the freedom to fail and to die in the trying was better than slavery in the wealthiest house.

Theirs was a love of the creation that both challenged and rewarded them when they met that challenge. And now they were being offered another level of freedom by the very God who created it all, and them—Jesus. Jesus the Jewish Messiah, a man who was crucified by the civilized purveyors of a religion that seemingly offered anything but freedom, was now offering freedom. Freedom from the one thing they still feared and could not overcome by the sword—death. Always, death came for all of them no matter how bravely they fought and lived. Their legends of what lay beyond was a mystery shrouded in an enigma and their superstitions of god’s and powers beyond their comprehension and control were a constant threat and weighed heavily on the barbarian heart.

Then along comes these Hebrew vagrants, exiles from their own land and people telling them of a man who claimed to be a Son of God, who overcame death and proved it by walking out of the tomb three days dead and cold. A God become a man, who offered not a meager hope of just another day to toil and strive hoping to find favor in the sight of another petty and spiteful god, but eternal life, a chance to be forgiven for everything they have ever done that their hearts and better instincts had told them was wrong.

Here was a God offering peace and reconciliation to the creator of the heavens and the earth. And to prove it his Spirit was being poured out on them in tangible ways that they could see, hear and feel, simply for the asking, giving them a hope not just for the next life, but for this one as well. Here indeed was true freedom.

The barbarian heart thrives in the freedom of our Lord and in the power of his Holy Spirit. The very kingdom of God thrives in the heart of the barbarian, the Barbarian with a Bible.

That Bible being made up of the letters that the apostles who took part in that first barbarian council wrote to the churches that were springing up far and wide amongst the gentile barbarians, ensuring that the message of freedom that brings peace and hope, strength, courage and freedom to all people would not be forgotten, lost or perverted.

So tho
se who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”
Galatians 3:8-10

 

The New Testament, the words written to confirm and verify that the freedom of the new law—the law of love, joy, peace patience goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control—would not be lost or swallowed up ever again by religious demands and burdens that we, the mighty uncivilized, fearsome and untamed barbarian, could not carry or tolerate. The barbarian heart cannot thrive for long in the shackles of religion, God knows this, the Apostles knew this and if you are honest with yourself—you know this. As we allow ourselves to get civilized and sophisticated we lose sight of this. That is why the church is slowly but surely fading away, that is why we need barbarians to stand up and say: “Enough! I am who I am; I am a child of God and I am free!” “I have the word of God written on my heart and on my mind, I have the Spirit of the living God empowering my soul to overcome my flesh and the enemy, and I have a Bible, the sword of the Spirit, and I’m not afraid to use it!”

We need to tell that religious spirit that threatens to destroy us- “Take your rules and condemnations, your demands and your never ending circular and meaningless theologies, you’re my way is right and your way is wrong methodologies, and take a long walk off a short pier because my ship is no longer tied to your pier.” “My ship is following the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords to the promised land, but first we are going to stop at the gates of hell where we are going to kick butt and set the captives free!”

Maybe we need another Barbarian council; I think the Holy S
pirit is already there and the invitations have been sent.

Come to me you who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.

Bottom line is, God is extending his hand to all peoples, come home my children, barbarians and all.

-From Barbarians in the Kingdom by Dan Swaningson

Advertisements

Embrace the Barbarian Hunter in you

            Go Big-

Barbarians always go big; big appetites—we love thanksgiving, any reason to feast—big adventures, big spenders, big tires on big trucks— Go big or go home girly man! If the barbarian finds something they like they can’t get enough of it.

I discovered this about myself early on; I call it an addictive personality, when I like something I want more— more, more, more. This is not good when you are talking about drugs or alcohol especially. There was a time when I had to drink the most, smoke the most, party the most, and indeed it took a miracle to free me from those addictions. But I have also been that way with other things; fishing, rappelling, hunting, hiking in the mountains… once I discovered something new and exciting I couldn’t get enough. This wasn’t necessarily bad but it kind of worried me in my early days of walking with the Lord because when I was set free from the destructive addictions to drugs and drink by the overwhelming love of Jesus, I couldn’t get enough of him. I devoured the Bible, I went to church two or three times a week and took part in every church sponsored event or program I could.

I went a little overboard. I was indeed a barbarian new to the Kingdom and I was going to pillage every nook and cranny of it and get everything I could out of it and gather as many as I could into my ship to help me conquer more. This wasn’t necessarily bad either, what worried me was that I was afraid that I was going to get tired of Jesus and loose interest. Like I said, I knew how I was, ‘Gimmee, gimmee, more, more, more, …okay I’m so over that, I’ve squeezed every ounce of fun out of that one, let’s move on.’ I feared this for many years, wondering when I was going to overdose on Jesus, wake up and realize that it wasn’t doing it for me anymore, and just move on—or move back.

It’s been over Lone Vikingthirty years now since I got zapped by the Holy Spirit and caught fire for Jesus and guess what? I haven’t gotten tired of him yet, because he is my strength and without him, nothing else has any real meaning or value. Nothing can satisfy me or bring peace to my soul apart from Jesus. I cannot hold on to anything good without the strength of Jesus and I cannot avoid succumbing to everything bad without the strength of Jesus. He alone has satisfied my soul.

However, I have gotten tired of a lot of the church stuff as I got to the point where I became totally saturated with everything churchy, losing focus on what was truly important, losing that simplicity of purpose the barbarian is supposed to exemplify and getting caught up in the games of organized religion and taking part in too many, what I call ‘bless me’ programs, either as the leader or as the consumer. The consumer shows up, looks at the leader and says, ‘Here I am, how can you bless me today?’ People expect way too much out of leaders, who may be expecting way too much of themselves as they try to emulate or recreate a powerful move the Holy Spirit may have orchestrated at some point through them; ‘Well it worked before surely it will work again’. That’s how rituals are born and rituals are religion and religion is of man.

As soon as we think we have it figured out or that we are amazing ministers, teachers, worship leaders, dramatic arts people—whatever—we stop depending on or allowing the Lord to do the amazing part and we become just another poser—a false prophet, or an entertainer. We must find, and keep finding, our strength in the Lord. Or we will end up face down in a bowl of gruel. There’s a scene in the cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan the Barbarian movie that keeps coming back to me, (maybe because I have so often felt this way) Conan has somehow come into some money so he ends up in this little trading post/village where there are all sorts of exotic enticements.

The young barbarian has never seen anything like this before and he goes hog wild, sampling everything to his heart’s content. After a couple of days of nonstop partying he is sitting down to have a bowl of gruel (or something) and he passes out from exhaustion and drunkenness, face first into his bowl. Fortunately, his friend sitting next to him grabs him by the hair and pulls him out of his soup before he drowns.

I have felt like that, partying all night, brooding at sunrise because the party is coming to an end and I am still not satisfied. The thrill I thought I would achieve eluding me once again, the girl I was crushing on going home with someone else, the emptiness overwhelming as I face another day, hung-over, broke, and alone. Just another barbarian trying to force a good time—to find satisfaction.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12 NKJV

But I have felt like that in the church also, trying to force satisfaction into my soul; working, working, working, to advance the Kingdom through the church. Expending all my time and energy in whatever I was involved in—vacation Bible schools, camps, worship seminars, marriage seminars, bible studies, classes; fixing, building and maintaining church buildings—till I felt shell shocked and exhausted ready to pass out in my soup. Always while hoping it would attain for me a higher sense of the presence of God, trying to take the Kingdom by force—force of will and action that amounted to violence against my own sanity—climbing the church ladder to success; a success measured by recognition, position, salary, an office and a following.

I kept throwing myself out there hoping, that it would finally get me to the place where someone would come along and say, ‘Okay, now it’s time to do what you are supposed to be doing and here it is, here’s your fulfillment.’ I thought my ultimate reward would be permission and release to
do what I believed I was truly gifted and called by the Spirit of God to do, that someone important would recognize my potential. The worst part is, I really thought someone else—those I was taught to submit to—would hear what it was I was supposed to be doing and where.

            Be the Hunter

It doesn’t happen that way, you cannot earn your satisfaction and no one is going to hand it to you, let alone tell you specifically where to find it. The soul satisfying direction and purpose that God has specifically for you can come only from God—peace can come only from God, peace in purpose and peace of mind. You can’t go to enough programs and seminars to attain a higher spirituality let alone a real peace, it is something that happens between you and God through Jesus by his Holy Spirit. It can happen in the midst of a crowd, but only because God managed to break through the noise and distractions enough to get your attention; ‘Here I am, walk with me.’  ‘Stop running in circles like you are trying to herd cats and become the hunter—quietly pursuing me with your eyes open, your ears tuned to the slightest sound of my voice and your nose smelling the change of the winds and seasons as I move silently through the woods.’

Be the barbarian.

 

Shield Maiden Mentoring

Barbarians in the Kingdom part 4

Confidencethat’s the thicowgirlng that sets the Barbarian woman apart. The Barbarian woman in the Kingdom of God who has not succumbed to the unnaturally civilizing notions of taming the Barbarian with religious expectations that only serve to leave her feeling like a failure, the woman who has held on tenaciously to the spark of confidence and strength that God has planted in her soul and accepted the love of her Father through Jesus Christ, is a woman of confidence.

She knows that her worth does not come from what others think of her. She knows that she is able, that she can do whatever she sets her mind to, that nothing can stand in her way—unless she allows it too.

In any situation, in any place, she has an inner peace and calm because she knows that she is a precious soul, that she is loved, first and foremost by her Father God. And that is a love that can never be taken away or lost, it is a love that will never end.

So how do you get a woman to that Barbarian notion of confidence, of liking herself? It took a lot of prayer and pondering as a man trying to figure out what I don’t think most women even understand about themselves, but I think I finally put my finger on it. Just like a guy needs to hear from his father that he is proud of him, that he is a man, a girl needs to know that she is beautiful, and I don’t mean just on the outside but also on the inside. We don’t want girls to base their image of themselves based on what others think of them, but we want them to know that they are beautiful.

For the young woman, the two are intricately intertwined, if she thinks she looks good, she will feel good. But you know what? Listen to this; if a woman thinks she looks good- she will look good—seriously, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is confident. It puts a spark in her eyes, which truly are the window to the soul. If the soul is healthy and beautiful, it will emanate from the eyes and light up the whole face. The posture will be better, the smile will take up residence on the face and the love that engenders love will shine through.

I tease my daughter Jessie once in a while, “Everybody loves you!” It’s true- if you know Jessie, you like her almost right away—why? Because she is a raving beauty? She is beautiful but so are a lot of women that not very likable. They like her because she is always smiling, her big hazel eyes sparkle and she just puts out the sense that she is always joyful, people are drawn to that. That’s confidence.

So how do we get our young Barbarians there, to that beautiful confident place? I have always wondered when I tell a little girl—and we have several very pretty little girls in our church— ‘What a pretty dress you have on today, I love the braids in your hair’ if I am doing them a disservice. Am I not teaching them that their worth is tied to their looks?  But I think I might have figured it out, actually I think the Lord opened my eyes; it’s okay for little girls to hear how pretty they are, as long as they are also hearing it from the ones in their lives who matter—their parents. The people they love and trust, who know them better than anyone else does, theirs is the opinion they need to hear.

Barbarian mothers, you need to continually reaffirm that your little girls are beautiful, the mother’s role differs a little from the father’s; you need to teach them and model for them that their beauty isn’t dependent on what they wear, how much makeup they put on, how much skin they show. Your girls need you to teach them how to be beautiful, inside and out. If the world teaches them you will not like the results, I can guarantee you that.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3,4

Father’s, here’s your part; you need to tell your girls, including your wife, that they are beautiful. Even if they act like they are embarrassed or they don’t believe you. They need to hear it from you and here’s why: if they do not hear it from you, dads, they will be constantly trying to hear it from someone else, and it will never be enough. I don’t fully understand this, but it’s true. A young woman who does not have her Father’s approval and love, expressed verbally—a woman needs words, she doesn’t speak grunt like men do—will be forever trying to measure up and will never be happy with what she sees in the mirror. She will never have confidence and will never feel fully loved.

More Beautiful

All who know my oldest daughter Cally would probably agree that she is confident. She has been tackling the world head on since the day she graduated from High School, and before. I remember the day this whole concept of telling the girls they are beautiful really hit home with me. We were hunting near Silesia MT, driving along from one place to another, Donna was in the front of the pickup and Cally was in the back seat, she was probably 16 at this time. She was leaning forward to hear us and I turned around to look at her, all decked out in her finest blaze orange clothes, and for some reason it just struck me that she was really becoming a beautiful young lady. I looked again, and then again deciding to use this opportunity to bless her. She leaned back in the seat and said, “What!” “Every time I look at you, you get more beautiful!”

I can’t really explain what happened at that moment but I sensed in my spirit that it was big. She didn’t say a word but I could tell by the look on her face that something happened right then, I think this may have been one of those pivot points between self-doubt and self-confidence. I decided right then and there that I needed to make sure all of my daughters know how beautiful they are; I even wrote them a book telling them so; To My Girls.

So, find a woman, find a little girl, and tell her: “You are truly beautiful.” And make sure she really hears you. All of God’s daughters are beautiful—including you.

 

Shield Wall Mentoring

What does it mean to be a man? The barbarian of old had little trouble with this notion; there was little confusion over what it meant to be a man in the barbarian tribes, wherever and whviking-armyenever they were found. The barbarian man’s measure was taken in large part by his strength- physical prowess, his courage and his ability to defend and provide for his family, his home and his clan.

He was not ashamed to be a man nor was he discouraged from being a man—in all his testosterone driven fury and glory. What a difference in where we are today where being a man is almost something we have to apologize for as traditional manly traits are being frowned upon.

Society would make you believe that all women want men who are not just in touch with their feminine side, but live there most of the time and that most men are stupid, bumbling or egoistical idiots who need to be retrained and tolerated, softened and civilized; interesting, you never see a pencil necked geek wearing skinny jeans and wielding a smart phone on the cover of a romance novel– just saying.

Does the barbarian in the heart of all women really want a man to be just a woman with a deeper voice? I think when it comes down to it, a woman wants a man to be a man, a man wants a woman to be a woman and that’s a barbarian notion that’s hard to shake, and I contend should not be shaken, in spite of what the world tells us.

I think many of our young men today are having an identity crisis. I see it at work, I see it in the churches—everywhere, young men getting more and more frustrated, confused and angry because they aren’t allowed to be men.

Most of them don’t have real men teaching them how to be a man- how to contain and direct the barbarian inside aching to be loosed, so they either act like immature idiots or they just become subjugated doormats wondering why the woman they have bowed down to does not respect them. Women, whether they admit it or not, need heroes and leaders. And men need to be heroes and lead, this goes back to that love and respect thing we find spelled out in the scriptures; a woman needs to feel loved and a man needs to feel respected.

…let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph 5:33

Barbarian Mentoring

I think we need barbarian mentoring. The barbarians in the kingdom need to rise up and take the next generation under their wings and show them what it means to be a man, we need to invite them to stand with us side by side in the shield wall. This sounds like a huge task but it’s really not, unless of course you do not know what it means to be a man. Guys my age or older—baby boomers—had an advantage, we were raised by the generation of warriors that saved the world from Nazism and Imperialist Japan.

We had fathers or grandfathers, uncles and bosses who fought in a world war, together as men with a single simple purpose; to save the world, including their own homes and families, from an enemy that they were allowed to call an enemy, to fight a fight that they were allowed to win, and did win. And they returned home from the battlefields with that same spirit of accomplishment and pride and together build a better life for their families.

They were allowed and encouraged to work hard, and the harder they worked, the better off they were. These men were raised during the great depression so they never took work for granted, nor anything else for that matter—they were men who raised sons to be men. Where did we lose that? I contend that we didn’t, it just got tucked away as we got too comfortable living the fruits of what those men, and women, built for us. We just need to allow ourselves to once again be the men that our collective fathers and grandfathers were, God fearing, hard-working, sacrificially loving men, that’s all.

But that’s not enough, here is the key element; men need to always affirm the next generation of men. It’s a curious thing that a boy will never feel like a man, until someone who is a man in their eyes, tells them they are a man, preferably their father. We no longer have rites of passage that mark the day when a boy becomes a man. We no longer expect anything of our young men and we no longer demand that they act like men. Personal responsibility and accountability has gone out the window and we have become an entitlement society ‘I am entitled to a pay check, I am entitled to health care, a smart phone, a car, an education, a place to live, internet—you name it, even if I didn’t lift a finger to earn it.’

On the other hand we don’t acknowledge hard work and responsibility like we should either—it just wouldn’t be fair to everyone else. ‘Here’s your participation trophy and a Pizza.’ We need to tell a young man when he has done the right thing, to acknowledge and affirm; ‘I sure appreciate the hard work you did, nice job.’ I always thank the guys who work on my construction jobs at the end of the day. If a guy knows you appreciate the effort he put into doing the job you asked him to do, he will come back the next day and work at it even more diligently. You have to give respect to get respect.

Respect is the food that fuels the heart of the man. A boy looks for material gain and only takes, a man looks for and gives respect, and a man who is respected is able to love.

So what gets the boy across the line to manhood?—like I said, affirmation, that point in time when he was respected and affirmed as a man. Women won’t understand this and that’s fine, we’ll talk about the barbarian women next time, but right now trust me that you also need to hear this for the sake of the men in your life– a man needs to hear these words or he will struggle with being a man for the rest of his life- here are the words; I am proud of you. And they need to come from a father, or at least a Father figure. It doesn’t hurt to hear them from his wife either.

You can take that to the bank. That is the respect pivot point between being a boy and becoming a man. Affirmation. Ladies, don’t doubt me on this and don’t poo poo it as silly.

Only a man who has been affirmed as a man can stop acting like a boy who is trying to get attention. Only a man who is comfortable in his manliness can be tender to his woman without seeming like a girly man. Only a man who is secure in his manliness can see the world through the eyes of his children without being immature and childish. Only a man who has been affirmed can rest at the end of a hard day without feeling like a loser. Only a man who has been affirmed can look in the mirror and like what they see.