Barbarians. . . seriously?

Political correctness be d@#%d!Barbarian meme

Barbarians in the Kingdom

The Barbarian in the Kingdom is a man, a simple man with a simple mission- to live victoriously and to never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Barbarian in the Kingdom makes no apologies for who he is as a man or as a soldier for Christ. The barbarian in the Kingdom takes care of his own- the women in their lives- not because they are inferior and weak but because that is his role and he embraces it. The barbarian women in his life appreciate and thrive in the freedom and security that care affords them.

It is the civilized and religious man who subjugates and diminishes his woman- in the barbarian tradition, as in the Kingdom of God, the women always play a key and equal, even if different, role in the societal and family structure. They are not ashamed to be women and the men are not ashamed to be men- this gender neutralism business trying to pervade our society is just as ridiculous and absurd as was the notion that women are inferior.

The barbarian in the kingdom lives by a simple heart cry:

8I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40: 8

The simplicity of the barbarian nature guided by an instinct of justice uncluttered by religious rules or p.c. gamesmanship. This allows he or she to move freely and effectively, advancing and strengthening  the Kingdom while hardly even realizing it. Moving in the three basic tenants that are ingrained in the soul of every person who is wise enough and courageous enough to embrace it, the tenants that reflect the Spirit and life of our Savior:

Simplicity of purpose, Singularity of mission, Determination of spirit

And that’s why we need Barbarians in the Kingdom

Dan Swaningson- the Barbarian pastor

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Twisted Crowns

Who is in control of my life? Who wears the crown? Me, or Jesus. All of us have twisted crowns because we are always wrestling with the Lord to try and take it back.

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Anxiety-

Freedom from anxiety; a lesson I have been struggling with the last few weeks, fear of being a bad superintendent and not getting my multi-million dollar construction project done right, fear of not being a good pastor, a good father, fear of what others may think of me if I fail at any of these. Anxiety is a relentless and merciless task master. —‘Lord—take away my fears and forgive me for doubting you when you tell me to cast all my cares on you, that you will never leave me nor forsake me, that you are my fortress and my strength, an ever present help in times of trouble—restore to me the joy of my salvation and help me to walk in victory!’ Amen?!

The Lord set me free 38 years ago with the words of a psalm—“Out of my distress I called on the Lord, the Lord answered me and set me free. With the Lord on my side I shall not fear, what can man do to me?” – from Psalm 118. And I was suddenly set free—not from addictions to drugs though that would be the end of my partying days, not to my need to drink mass quantities, though that would be the end of my drinking days, the Lord set me free in the moment I read those words from my fear of being alone, from the shame that kept me from him and the pain that drove me to the other things.

In that moment I decided to abide in is word, to live in his word, and be free—and I did. His words were more than just inspiring ink on paper, his words became alive in my heart and I felt his overwhelming presence like I never had before in an undeniable and unexplainable way and I vowed to never turn again to the things that had ensnared me by their false promises of appeasing the flesh and soothing the mind—I no longer need those things—but I still need Jesus, day in and day out because the flesh still tries to drag me down. Lord take my Crown.

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We are a stubborn lot. We want to be free but we don’t know what to do with our freedom and we use it to get right back into bondage—just bondage of a different sort. You can’t tell me what to do! Well. Maybe not, but then we make the wrong choice and we become a slave to ourselves, a slave to the flesh—or as Jesus would put it, “a slave to sin.”

Our own minds are our worst enemy. Our flesh—our own desire, our own thought patterns and motivations. Things that must be tempered by the Lord, by his word.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

The enemy cannot steal your freedom—unless you allow him.

How do we lose our freedom? -one word—sin

It’s really not that hard people, read the word, know the word. At the very least, know and abide by the Ten Commandments, they are very straightforward and succinct and will keep you out of a whole lot of trouble.

Example

—big uncomfortable, I don’t care if you are offended or not, this is gospel truth and I’m tired of having to clean up the messes of people who think it’s not important—example.

Donna and I did not sleep together until we got married.

I was living in my new found freedom from my addictions and in God’s love and grace when Donna and I started dating. We were not kids anymore, we both had a lot of life under our belts when we decided to get married. We were engaged, and we drove ourselves and each other crazy because we were committed to waiting for the Honey Moon to consummate –impatiently waiting

In the weeks leading up to the wedding Donna would sometimes spend the night at my house—on the couch in a different room—I lived out of town a ways and we often just wanted to be together long into the evening and Donna would be too tired to drive home.

A few times, sorry kids but we were passionately in love—and still are—we would get a little carried away with the kissy kissy and, like I said, drive ourselves crazy. ‘Why wait, we’re both adults, we know we’re getting married, everyone else does it,’ and then I would look at the big window in my living room and see my Christian fish sticker placed there for all the world—and myself— to see and remember why not—because the word of God says so.

After coming dangerously close to breaking our commitment to wait a time or two we both did some serious repenting and praying—I’ll tell you what, that prayer, asking the Lord to forgive us for pushing the boundaries and to help us stay strong in his word and his Spirit did more to solidify and bless our relationship than anything else we did to that point and perhaps since.

I am convinced that one of the reasons our marriage has stood the test of time, that we have been blessed by the Lord in our marriage, is because we abided by his word. We did not live together to practice, we did not succumb to the temptations of the flesh and become one outside of our sacred vows and we begged forgiveness and strength to overcome the lies of the enemy—”did God really say?” Yes, he did.

Where do you live in your mind? Confusion or Kingdom, circumstantial slavery or truth.

Because where you live is what you will become.

Stop wrestling the Lord for control and let him be King, he promises freedom, Let go of your twisted crown and lay it at his feet.

Claim your freedom, read- Barbarian’s in the Kingdom

 

Darkophobia

“. . . suddenly I would hear a rustle and the sound of quick footsteps, the creak of the door. . .  “

Light path

They say that the fear of the dark is one of the most common fears there is, right up there with public speaking, claustrophobia, spiders, snakes and mice.

Why do we fear the dark?

We shouldn’t, we mustn’t. Only a heart still in the dark fears the dark.

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4,5

The light that we have, the light that illuminates our hearts, is not the kind of light that can always be seen with the eyes. Rather it is an illumination of the spirit. A light, literally a life, the life of Christ, who resides in us, and does all the things visible light does only better. It guides us, reveals things to us and dispels darkness. With the true light that brings life we no longer have to fear the darkness, in fact the dark now fears us.

Last week I told you about a time when I was five years old and raiding the refrigerator in spite of the fact that I knew Santa was watching me. What I didn’t tell you was that this was a time of darkness for me, in many ways.

The story reminded me of the house we lived in at the time. It was a big old two story house and we lived on the main floor while the top floor was rented out to someone else.

I was living there with my mother and younger sister because my parents had just gotten divorced so we moved out of our nice new house in the country into this rental in town, while my dad moved into an apartment. My world was turned upside down and I didn’t understand any of it—darkness.

During this time I also became deathly afraid of the dark as well. My bedroom had a window next to my bed that looked right into the window of the house next door, which was only about six feet away, and the house was abandoned. Which to me meant that it was surely haunted. So not only did I have to worry about the spooks in my own bedroom who were just waiting for me to go to sleep so they could get me, I had to worry about the ones in the house next door who were also watching me—darkness.

So I would lay in bed afraid to close my eyes, hearing every creek and pop an old house makes, convinced that it was a monster or a skeleton watching me from the closet or patiently waiting under my bed for me to fall asleep so they could come out and get me or do whatever spooks do in your room in the dead of night. Then suddenly I would hear a rustle and the sound of quick footsteps, the creak of the door, and the fearful scream of a little girl fading away down the hall.

It was my 3 year old sister, with whom I shared a room, getting up as she did nearly every night sometime after we were tucked in, to run crying to my mother’s room because she was scared or had had a bad dream. She would then crawl into bed with my mother leaving me all alone in my dark bedroom. I tried the same trick a time or two but was told I was too old; “Go back to bed.” Darkness

I would spend the next several years afraid of the dark. We would move several times and I would end up sharing a room with a stepbrother, but I would still imagine the spooks in the night patiently waiting for me to close my eyes. Thinking about now I see the truth; I had always made the correlation between my fear of the dark being caused by moving into the scary house next to the scarier house because I wasn’t afraid before that. But looking back now with the eyes of the Spirit illuminated  by the true light I think my fear of the dark had more to do with the spiritual darkness that crept into our family and taunted my young heart as my family was ripped apart by divorce and meshed with a family broken by suicide—darkness

 

Darkness is more hiding-1209131_960_720than just a lack of sunlight, it is a spiritual condition. Whether it was caused by an actual dark spirit or simply by the virtue of my Dad not being there to bring light into our home—by the darkness caused by the confusion of the situation, seeing and hearing my parents tear each other apart in a really nasty divorce, or by the new dad whom I was being forced to accept, I don’t know, most likely it was a combination of all those things.

 

Cover

Parents are supposed to be their children’s cover until they are old enough to receive the light on their own behalf. And if that is missing—that cover—God still has a hand of protection on those kid’s souls, but their world will be one of darkness.

 

I was only just understanding this as I was writing it and thinking of no one but my own family as I continue to try to understand the pain of my childhood, so don’t get all bent out of shape here thinking I was out to pick on anyone—just take it as an exhortation to do the best you can in whatever your family situation to keep your kids covered in prayer, to hold the darkness at bay, and do your best to live in the light yourselves.

 

Like I say over and over again and what I tried to stress in my last book, Hope for Families, ‘every decision you make, especially as a parent, affects so many more people than you think.’ And if you have kids it is no longer about you, if you are married it is no longer about you, and if you are a Christian, it never was about you. It is about Jesus—if he is first in all you do, he will take care of you, orchestrate your steps, illuminate your path and keep you in the light, so you don’t have to look out for you, that’s his job, that is why he invited you into his light.

Selfishness is darkness. The world does not want you to know that because it wants to keep you in the dark, keep you hungry so you will strive for and buy more of what it is selling; ‘You deserve this, you deserve that— you deserve to be happy, you deserve a new car, a new phone, a bigger house, time for yourself—a better looking, sweeter, harder working husband or wife who will make you happy. Go find yourself!’

You know what you find when you go find yourself? The enemy waiting for you with open arms saying ‘step into the dark and do what feels good.’

Well, Jesus had something to say about that.

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. John 3

You are so much more thaPowerful Bible.n that. You are a child of the living God, a child of the light, the light that shines in the darkness, the light that the darkness cannot overcome, does not understand and cannot stand against—there is absolutely no reason to fear him, to put up with him, no reason why you cannot tell him to take a hike—‘you do not scare me, in fact, you do not even bother me, you just let yourself out, don’y let the door hit you in the ass on the way out and by the way; don’t come back— in the name of Jesus; just be gone! And stay away from my kids as well.’

 

Mom Forever

 

“…eternity isMoments meme a moment that never goes away until we choose to let it.”

You may have noticed that God keeps his own clock, much different from ours. The church of Peter’s day, anxious for the return of the Lord, thought ten years was for—ev—er! Try 2000 years! Still just a couple of days to the Lord, I mean, I’m still trying to figure out how he created a 13 billion year old universe in just 6 days, we can’t explain it but we keep trying don’t we, it’s what we do. We just have to shove eternity into our calendars.

With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. 2 Pet 2:8,9

I think kids actually have a much better concept of eternity, they haven’t been bitten in the butt by time near so many times as we adults so they just live in the moment. I think maybe that’s what eternity is, a moment that never goes away until we choose to let it.

That is why the Lord can take care of so many complex issues, be with everyone at—what seems to us like—the same time, and still be in the past and the future as well. He can take what is just a moment to us and make it last just as long as he needs to, until he is fully satisfied that whatever he is doing, creating or fixing is completely finished.

I imagine heaven being a place where I can sit on the front porch of my mountain cabin and visit with someone I love or find interesting for hours, even days, and still have time to visit with the myriad others I would like to spend time with and never miss anyone or anything because I spent too much time with someone else—I know I’m getting into the weeds here, welcome to my brain…

Anyway, what I was trying to get at, is that kids still think eternally, they are eternal souls learning to find their way in a temporal world so they think they do have time to just enjoy whomever or whatever is before them for as long as they wish and still never miss anything important. If you have kids you probably had that fight this morning when trying to get them out the door for school or church—you didn’t know you were fighting against eternity did you.

Kids see life through the “a day is like a thousand years” part of the eternity equation that Peter lays out here. When we are kids a day is like a thousand years; that last week of school just before vacation took forever, ‘I can’t wait!’ And then school is out and it seems like we were able to do such much just in one day, (maybe because when you are a kid your energy level puts you into hyper speed mode and you really can do much more in a day.)

Then we get older and the other side of that equation becomes our reality, ‘I only have one week to get this done, oh my gosh, it’s Thursday already, AHH!’ Our busy weeks go screaming by and then the weekend’s here and what really sounds good is a nap. We are now living in the one thousand years is like a day mode. I can see us all saying that at the end of the millennial reign of Christ; ‘Wow, that thousand years went by quick!’ (I’m already stressing about the end of the millennium and it hasn’t even started yet.)

Maybe that’s the difference, kids don’t stress about the end, the future, they enjoy the present.

Time to Mother?

But, I suppose we ought to get to the subject of mothers, which is really where I am going with all of this, while you are busy trying to get something productive accomplished, like wash your hair or do the laundry, when you really would rather take a nap, your kids are bouncing around in hyper speed, (maybe the theory of relativity comes into play here, they are moving so fast that they really are slowing down time), anyway, they just want to do stuff—“Mom, can we do this, why can’t we do that? Let’s go there, help me build this, take me to the pool, can I have a sleepover, “I’m bored!” this is the worst day ever, this is the best day ever, and all this just in a couple of hours.

And you are exasperated, all your dreams of being the perfect mom, having happy well balanced kids who never argue with each other, or you, who sit politely at the table waiting for you to flit in with your apron on, your hair and makeup done, and a tray full of fresh oatmeal cookies made from organic oats that you grew and rolled yourself, while their father is packing the minivan for a dream trip to Disney land—all those dreams now seem so far away; “Just give me the strength to make it till the end of the day without losing it and emotionally scarring my little monsters—I mean darlings— for life!”

Again, that’s your perspective. Maybe you thought you had the idyllic childhood and your mom made your life so wonderful, or maybe it was the mother of one of your friends, or a TV fantasy mom like June Cleaver or Mrs. Brady who made it all seem so easy and wonderful, but in reality, at least for the real life moms, they were also going through their days thinking; “Lord, give me the strength to not kill one of these kids before I can deposit them in their beds tonight.”Rockwell Mother

You thought it was all wonderful and perfect when you were a kid because that is the part you remember, you remember because you lived fully in the moment, you weren’t worrying about the future and your weren’t pining for, or trying to live up to, a past that can never be recreated, a past that now lives only in your mind.

Or maybe your childhood was full of turmoil and drama and you have vowed that things would never be that way for your own kids, but here you are, fighting off drama using your crabby Mom powers leaving you to beat yourself up at the end of the day, thinking you are failing miserably, letting the regrets of the day or even the regrets of a decade ago, keep you awake at night.

There are no regrets in eternity, only the moment.

Eternity begins today, eternity begins right now. So learn how to live in, make the most of, and treasure the moment.

I heard an interesting and kind of disturbing bit of trivia a while ago. Norman Rockwell, the famous artist who illustrated the cover of The Saturday Evening Post for many years, with what everyone thought of as classic Americana, once told a reporter that he discovered early in his career that he couldn’t sell reality near as well as he could sell the reality people longed for.

People look at Rockwell’s version of a perfect world and believe that somewhere, at some time, this was the way things really were. We all want to live in Mayberry.

I believe, because I have experienced them, that those moments do exist, they are just not as constant or as perfect as we dream of, but they are there, moments worth treasuring, we need to learn to recognize and appreciate them more, they make the rest of this crazy life much more palatable. And the more we grab a hold of and ponder those moments, the more there will be, not because they will magically happen but because we just learn to appreciate things more—less stress, more gratitude for today.

The most famous mother of all had this figured out:

 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Relax and treasure the moments that matter, take mental snapshots and ponder them later—the moment your child gives you that smile that just melts your heart. The moment your child spontaneously says: “I love you Mom.” The moment your little girl hands you a bouquet of wildflowers she just picked with her pudgy little hands, when your child falls asleep snuggled into your lap like it is the safest place the world.

These are the moments to treasure, these are the moments that matter, moments you actively helped create, even if they didn’t go exactly, or even close to, the way you planned, and the moments you create by just being in the right place at the right time.

Every moment spent being a mom, being a parent to your child, is  a moment spent in the right place at the right time. You are building eternity, moment by moment —and that is what makes you the world’s greatest Mom.