All posts by Paul Nowak

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

When the World Falls Apart

When your world is falling apart, what is it that is actually changing so drastically?

It cannot be anything that can affect your salvation. It may be a change in your role – or what you thought your role was – in the story of salvation. When Peter was called from his boat, when Paul was thrown from his horse, their old world ended. Up to that day they thought they knew what their life would be. And the next day it changed forever in response to a call.

A few lines in the Scriptures over simplifies the upheaval such decisions and such callings cause.

On that note, there will be more changes here at Eternal Revolution. The more I pray about things the more I realize a more radical course correction is needed to bring things in line with my calling.

I stated in The Eternal Revolution that we are not fighting as the army of God. An army follows orders in a clear battlefront. We are resistance fighters, and part of that is shifting and responding and changing quickly to adapt to shifting conditions or orders. This is the way we fight.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Dependence and Charity

The stated goal of many charities is to encourage independence of families or the individual. The entire operation, if properly aligned, is to help the person and those they support to no longer become dependent on some other entity – in most cases that means they organization specifically does not want the person to remain dependent on them.

For Christians, however, especially those aware of the Eternal Revolution and our daily battles with the world, we cannot say our charity work or acts of charity are geared towards the independence of those we serve. When we do what we can to meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of others we want them to find dependence on God, not on themselves. To be reliant on oneself is to act out of pride.

Charity, as a virtue, ought to always desire to love others as God loves them. We do not want others dependent on destructive influences like drugs, alcohol, or debt. But nor do we want them to see themselves as dependent on their own selves. This can be as simple as directing their expressions of thanks to God, and not to our organizations or our own efforts. It is good for any child of God to recognize His hand behind the hands that help them, and it ought to be their goal to always be dependent on His Charity.

It is not a bad thing that people need help from charities. Charities, especially Christian charities, ought to exist as organizations that do works of charity – that is love. And as Christians we desire that people put their trust, their hope, and their dependence on the love of God. To desire them to be independent of that would in fact be a terrible and uncharitable thing to wish upon another person.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

What are You Afraid of?

As we start another week, what is it that you are afraid of? What is keeping you from doing the miraculous, the amazing, the incredible for the Kingdom of God?

Peter could step out of the boat and take a few steps, until he became fearful – even when Our Lord was right there in his presence doing the impossible!

There are always scary stories on the news. There will always be uncertainty and plans gone awry, especially on Mondays. There are always waves, big and small.

But what you fear is what you worship. When you hesitate, catch yourself and ask, “Am I afraid of falling short of what Christ called me to do, or am I more afraid of _______?” If the answer is ever the latter, do everything you can to switch your focus to your King!

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

The Purpose of Suffering in the Eternal Revolution

There are times when we go through deserts of life – the times when we feel that we have been cast adrift with no divine wind in our sails. There are other times when we suffer acute pain: mental, physical, or emotional anguish of a particular kind or from a particular source. Both of these periods in our lives are suffering, and I firmly believe there is a purpose to suffering.

There is meaning in suffering, but that is not what I am concerned with in this post. The meaning of suffering is more metaphysical, which in many cases, and for most people, is not the type of thing you have the mental energy to do while enduring suffering. Purpose speaks to a practical reason or explanation of why this, why now. Recognizing a purpose to your suffering can get you through each day, and then in looking back on a period of suffering you may find the meaning.

We endure suffering in this life to bring us closer to God. Pain curbs the dangers of pride. Feeling alone and powerless turns us back to the Powerful One who said He would not leave us. Pain and suffering remind us that we are not at home in this world. They make us focus on the promise of a life free from the ordeals we experience here and now. Suffering should bring us to hope.

We are not always hopeful when we are called to endure. Long periods of crisis, or painful chronic disorders can bring us to despair and envy instead of leading us away from pride. This happens especially when we thing that someone or something has the answer to “solve” our problem. Worst of all, we might think that there is something we can do to fix our situation, our aliment, our pain. What vice is it that makes us think we can solve our own problems? Pride. The very thing that suffering can help us conquer can be used by the enemy to make our spiritual condition worse.

Pain and suffering are weapons, but they are not just weapons of the enemy. They can be used against us, crushing us into despair, or they can be powerful weapons in our hands, guided by God, to shape us into better practitioners of His will, not ours.

The purpose of suffering is to test and to purify us. It is not a punishment, though it can be a correction. We all suffer, each to a degree that God knows we can endure if we rely on Him. Certainly, some suffer so that they might be miraculously healed for His glory and as a witness of His power. But the majority, most of us, are being called to endure the trials and hurt so that we might be refined, formed, and directed to give glory to God.

Will you be beaten by the hardships in your life, or will you, with the strength of God,  wield them as one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal of faith?

 

 

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

We Don’t Teach Children Justice

Think about this for a moment:

Do we really teach children – with the exception of the mine phase – what justice is? I mean, do we have to teach them about fairness?

With my own children, and the children I encounter is schools and other community functions, I hear adults and myself having to say “life’s not fair.” You hear that a great deal more of that speech than you hear people teaching young people that life ought to be fair, things ought to be divided equally, or people’s needs ought to be met.

We don’t teach youth justice, we teach them to endure injustice and inequality in and unfair world. Sometimes, without intending to, we teach them injustice, prejudice, and bigotry.

But the ideal of justice is apparent to us from a young age. The ideal exists in the human mind, even as our experiences as we grow older compound more and more reasons why it doesn’t, won’t, and can’t exist in our world.

That seems to reinforce the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is a place where this ideal of justice must be realized. It also sheds some light on the fact that Jesus said we cannot enter the Kingdom unless we become like a little child.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

We Don’t Need Another Manifesto

As Christians, we know what we believe. It is expressed concisely in the Apostle’s Creed or more completely in the Bible itself.

We have a vision. It is that of the Kingdom of Heaven, of Eden and existence beyond the Judgement, where the ideals we desire, justice, truth, and charity are perfectly expressed.

We have a mission. The great commission at the end of the book of Matthew still applies: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

With all these things, why do we falter? Why do Christians everywhere seem lukewarm, compromising, and complacent?

We are not wanting of something to believe in, a vision, or a mission. We lack the courage to do what we must. We need to be reminded of what it is we are to do today for the glory of God. We need particular tasks to do.

In his private notebook, G.K. Chesterton wrote that a soldier, a knight, a warrior does not want to be reassured that his commander has a plan. After all, Our Lord has an inevitable plan laid out for us and the world, repeatedly laid out in the Scriptures. What a fighter wants, remarked Chesterton, is a sword. A weapon or tool with which to strike, to struggle with, and with which he can make a difference for his cause.

We have such weapons, but too often we think they are irrelevant in our time, or too simple. They are found throughout the Scriptures too.  Pray. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless. Those are the acts of a soldier of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We do not need another statement of belief. We need to do.

 

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Why Chesterton and Revolution?

Someone asked me a question yesterday via the GKChestertonQuote.com site: If “revolution” is so often used as a leftist and communist idea, why would a Christian author like G.K. Chesterton issue a call to revolution like “Pray for Revolution?

To paraphrase Chesterton in Manalive, a revolution is always a  return. A revolution is a radical change, a re-turning to some ideal that was lost. As Christians, the idea is that what we have lost was Eden, what we hope for is the Kingdom of God. In our fallen world, to realize these ideals in the now, we must radically change ourselves in order for that to happen.

“To the orthodox there must always be a case for revolution; for in the hearts of men God has been put under the feet of Satan. In the upper world hell once rebelled against heaven. But in this world heaven is rebelling against hell. For the orthodox there can always be a revolution; for a revolution is a restoration. At any instant you may strike a blow for the perfection which no man has seen since Adam.” Orthodoxy

Revolution is not the sole property of any particular political ideal. Perhaps it is ultimately alien even for political ideals.

Near the end of Manalive, Innocent Smith has a conversation with a Russian revolutionist:

[Smith:] “I am a revolutionist. But don’t you see that all these real leaps and destructions and escapes are only attempts to get back to Eden– to something we have had, to something we at least have heard of? Don’t you see one only breaks the fence or shoots the moon in order to get HOME?”

“No,” I answered after due reflection, “I don’t think I should accept that.”

“Ah,” he said with a sort of a sigh, “then you have explained a second thing to me.”

“What do you mean?’ I asked; “what thing?”

“Why your revolution has failed.”

The more I read of Chesterton the more I see a revolutionary philosophy running through it; not a philosophy that is new and revolutionary, like independence in the American colonies or communism in the formerly imperial Russia, but a philosophy that is based on revolution itself as a fundamental truth of human history and philosophy. We cannot create an ideal heaven on Earth, so we must always be seeking to improve what we have.

To get started reading the revolutionary works of Chesterton I would suggest the essay “The Wind in the Trees” (From Tremendous Trifles), Orthodoxy (of which the seventh chapter is called “The Eternal Revolution,”) and Manalive.

There are hundreds more insights into Chesterton’s idea of revolution, but they are scattered throughout his works. Perhaps someday I’ll have a book actually on Chesterton on revolution, not just a book inspired by Chesterton’s idea of revolution.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Why I Write Short Books (and Blog Posts)

The Eternal Revolution can now be ordered from Amazon, and I am still awaiting my first shipment from the printer. As this latest books finds its way into people’s hands, one of the first things you will notice is that it is relatively short for a book.

At just over 6,000 words and 40 pages in print, it is short for what we have come to expect from a book. As someone commented a few months ago, my blog posts tend to be short too.

This is intentional. How many books of 200-300 pages do you read in a year? How many are published? How many 1,800 word articles posted on blogs can you read in a day, and how many are produced daily? We just don’t have the time to consume all the content – even all the free content – that is made available. Also, the early Church fathers and monastic rules constantly warned about talking too much, not too little.

Book publishing has change drastically in the last few years. I believe it is the biggest change since Gutenberg’s printing press. Since the invention of the press, duplication of printed matter has become easier, but it has not necessarily become open to everyone. Hiring a printer to set type required a return on investment for the time, and producing a modern book for publication required hours of labor, not only from the author, illustrator, editors, marketing team, advertising, printer, truck driver, and so on. A new hardcover book required a $30 price point and a print run in the tens of thousands to make enough to pay everyone a rate worthy of their time and effort. Which means that an idea that could be expressed in 50 pages has to, instead, be padded to make the book thick enough to be worth $30. As a result, non-fiction books especially can feel dragged out, over-fluffed, and appear difficult to read. Like Christianity (according to Chesterton) they are perceived difficult and left untried. The price-setting, page-padding practice is becoming outdated when small books can be printed just as easily as bigger books, and word of mouth can drive sales better than conventional advertising.

Hence short books. Something that you can look at and think “I can read this in an afternoon or evening.” And if you read it, it will actually have a chance to change your life, unlike that list of best-selling titles you just haven’t gotten around to reading.

For the same $30 cover price as the traditional hardcover, I’ll be able to sell 10 copies of a book to someone who will share my perspective and encouragement with 9 other people. Being short, the book is more likely to be read. That’s a lot more impact for the same price.

My blog posts are likewise short. You have other things to do than sit on the Internet and read other people’s opinions on things. Your time is precious, I just need enough words to present an idea, a concept, or a new perspective at let you think and pray about it means in your life, what God might want you to hear in it, and how, if at all, it will affect your life.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Learning to Hope Like a Bartledan

In Mostly Harmless, the final book in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, an alien race known as the Bartledans. They are described as being almost exactly like humans, except that they do not hope, wish, or dream.

Wishing a Bartledan a good evening is cause for confusion. They play games and sports, but never with a desire to win – the team or player that wins, has in fact won. Their literature is completely non-fiction, and always exactly 100,000 words. If the plot is too short, self help text is added. If the story is too long, it simply drops off completely, mid-sentence.

The Bartledanians’ brief place in the story, which is a whirlwind satire of our world conducted by dealing almost not at all with Earth itself, seems to highlight how we take for granted the fact that we spend so much time wishing and hoping for things.

Hope is a deeply ingrained part of human life. It is also one of the greatest three virtues, specifically when it is oriented to our hope in God’s promises of love, salvation, and eternal life. It’s not a virtue to hope for evil, of course.

However, we hope, and wish, and dream about a lot of things that are not God’s love, our salvation, or eternal happiness. We hope for worldly things, even good things, like financial security or better jobs, or great things for our children, friends, and family. These things are in the future, and largely, if not completely, beyond our control. We even dare to wish things were different in the past, or that certain decisions were made differently. This can be wistful or bitter, or somewhere in between.

As Christians, our hope should be oriented to God and his promises. One definition of the virtue is “the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it.” When we are hoping for something that is not guaranteed, and that is not in our control, and not promised us by our Creator, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. 

In worldly matters, perhaps we have something to learn from the Bartledanians. Will I get that promotion? Will the harvest be good next year? Will my son be a doctor? Those things will be what they will be, and no worrying or hoping (or vibrating or tapping or rain dancing) will change it. You cannot even will control over your hair, much less your life or those of others (Matthew 5:36). Hoping for worldly things and goals leads to worry, fear, and despair. Seek the Kingdom first!

Live with true hope in the promises that have been made by God, that you believe will be true. In everything else, take it one day at a time, living more and more each day as Christ taught.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Pigs, America, and Property in Revolution

This past weekend, we marked the anniversary of American independence, with much fanfare and perhaps some somber remembrance.  One of the items that tends to circulate is a list of the sacrifices faced by the signatories of the Declaration.

While some of the extreme losses are exaggerated, as Snopes.com points out, some of the more trivial sacrifices were left out. Serving on the Continental Congress was not a profitable measure by any means; the business and family life of the Founding Fathers suffered in their absence, while they directed their energy and attention to something they thought was more precious.

In our family, it is a tradition to watch the musical 1776 around this time, which attempts to portray the mental anguish of John Adams, among others, during the few fateful months in the summer of ’76.

In the remarkable timing that is God’s, I heard a challenging sermon on the driving out of the demons and casting of them into swine in Matthew 8. In the biblical account, Jesus cast out demons from two men that were terrorizing a region. So fierce were they, that passage on that road was impossible. Jesus allowed the demons to take possession of a heard of swine, which were destroyed. At this, the people of the area pleaded with Jesus to leave them.

The core of the sermon on this story was that the people feared the loss of their possessions more than what Jesus had to offer them. He delivered two of their neighbors from demons, liberated the area from the violent actions of the men which restricted travel, and who knows what else He could have brought them in the way of salvation. Instead, the people were afraid of what else they might lose, besides their herds of swine.

Are we afraid of the loss of our possessions, our welfare, and our material security as we try to follow Jesus? If we are, we risk pushing Him away. Like the American Founding Fathers, we must be willing to risk everything that we might give our all to following the greatest of causes – the pursuit of the Kingdom of God. The revolution to seek the Kingdom will cost us dearly, are we really ready to make those sacrifices?

 

Photo Courtesy Timothy J on Flickr

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.