Category Archives: Faith

Modern Prophets

Looking at the old testament of the Bible, it seems like there were a lot more prophets among the people than in modern times. Such an observation begs the question of whether God is withholding such gifts in our own times. If you consider that the events of the old testament played out over several thousand years, prophets were only present a small percentage of the time. Even then, however, can you recall a prophet from the past several generations? Perhaps we’re not paying close enough attention. In reading Joseph Pearce’s biography of G.K. Chesterton entitled Wisdom and Innocence there was a passage that brings to light this possibility. Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect and Minister of Armaments (also author of Inside the Third Reich) wrote in his diary after his imprisonment about some of the reading he had been doing:

April 7th, 1957. Have read a great deal recently. As early as 1904 Chesterton, in The Napoleon of Notting Hill, dealt with the frightening consequenses of a mass psychosis. In this store a pseudoking arbitrarily picked out of the London city directory succeeds in playing on the emotions of a whole people – as Hitler was to do – bringing about the the most absurd actions and reactions. Such books are only read after the fact… I wonder how Chesterton was read in his time, as a kind of prophesy or as an entertaining fantasy? After half a century, at any rate, it is clear that, with the nervous attunement of a great artist, he sensed what the future would be.

All prophesy relies on an understanding of human behavior. Such understanding, if whispered in one’s ear, delivered in one’s dreams, or inspired in an artist comes from a common Source – the only One who can give the gift, or even a talent or knack for predicting human behavior. God has not been silent – we have been deaf and stubborn. Generations from now, historians will look back and be able to pick out those of us who saw foreshadowings accurately and will ponder how their peers received them. Yet I wonder how many prophets among us even recognize their own gifts?

This article previously appeared on an old Eternal Revolution blog. I was hoping to have some big news today, so I delayed the post, but the news has to be delayed a bit longer. 

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.

Christians as the Soul of the World

Sometime in the second century after Christ, a letter to Diognetus was written explaining Christianity. The author is unknown, and it is not known if the Diognetus that it was addressed to was the Diognetus that tutored Marcus Aurelius – but those details are unrelated to the importance of the letter, now known as the Epistle to Diognetus.

It begins thus:

To His Excellency, Diognetus:

I understand, sir, that you are really interested in learning about the religion of the Christians, and that you are making an accurate and careful investigation of the subject. You want to know, for instance, what God they believe in and how they worship him, while at the same time they disregard the world and look down on death, and how it is that they do not treat the divinities of the Greeks as gods at all, although on the other hand they do not follow the superstition of the Jews. You would also like to know the source of the loving affection that they have for each other.

After some discussion of idolatry and the faith and practices of the Jews, the letter turns to describe Christians:

For Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech; they do not follow an eccentric manner of life. This doctrine of theirs has not been discovered by the ingenuity or deep thought of inquisitive men, nor do they put forward a merely human teaching, as some people do. Yet, although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other matters of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their own commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land. They marry, like everyone else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring. They share their board with each other, but not their marriage bed. It is true that they are “in the flesh,” but they do not live “according to the flesh.” They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require. They love all men, and by all men are persecuted. They are unknown, and still they are condemned; they are put to death, and yet they are brought to life. They are poor, and yet they make many rich; they are completely destitute, and yet they enjoy complete abundance. They are dishonored, and in their very dishonor are glorified; they are defamed, and are vindicated. They are reviled, and yet they bless; when they are affronted, they still pay due respect. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; undergoing punishment, they rejoice because they are brought to life. They are treated by the Jews as foreigners and enemies, and are hunted down by the Greeks; and all the time those who hate them find it impossible to justify their enmity.

To put it simply: What the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but does not belong to the body, and Christians dwell in the world, but do not belong to the world. The soul, which is invisible, is kept under guard in the visible body; in the same way, Christians are recognised when they are in the world, but their religion remains unseen. The flesh hates the soul and treats it as an enemy, even though it has suffered no wrong, because it is prevented from enjoying its pleasures; so too the world hates Christians, even though it suffers no wrong at their hands, because they range themselves against its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and its members; in the same way, Christians love those who hate them. The soul is shut up in the body, and yet itself holds the body together; while Christians are restrained in the world as in a prison, and yet themselves hold the world together. The soul, which is immortal, is housed in a mortal dwelling; while Christians are settled among corruptible things, to wait for the incorruptibility that will be theirs in heaven. The soul, when faring badly as to food and drink, grows better; so too Christians, when punished, day by day increase more and more. It is to no less a post than this that God has ordered them, and they must not try to evade it.

There is more to the letter, but just these two paragraphs give plenty of food for thought. Hopefully the recipient saw the things that the author described.

Today, though, if such a letter was written to describe Christianity, would the response be positive, or would the recipient respond as Gandhi did: “I have a great respect for Christianity. I often read the Sermon on the Mount and have gained much from it. I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity, but the trouble is with you Christians. You do not begin to live up to your own teachings.”

If you live as Christ taught, the first paragraph is a testament to Christianity; if you do not, the first paragraph is a condemnation.

The full weight of this injustice we do to the world by our hypocrisy is spelled out in the second paragraph. We Christians are to the world as the soul is to the body. If the soul is corrupt, hypocritical, fearful of poverty, hunger, loneliness and death – then the sickness of the world is made worse by our failure.

 

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.

How to Defeat Fear

 

We are called as Christians to be fearless, and to not fear men, the world, or evil.

And yet we are still afraid of many things.

How do we conquer our fears? That’s probably the wrong question.

How do you work through the fear, persevere through the fear, resist letting the fear paralyze you.

The surest way is to hurry up and succumb to it. To face the fear regularly, instead of avoiding it.

Otherwise, you could simply stop doing anything, which is most certainly not an option for a follower of Christ.

 

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 Lightness of Evil

A colleague of mine recently wrote me and told me he appreciated the good vs evil theme of my work. Which got me thinking.

I never could get into the horror of H.P. Lovecraft.

The idea of a great and terrible ancient god, with a mighty tentacled head, rising out of the sea, worshiped by thousands of deranged cultists driven insane… It all strikes me as terribly amateurish. Not on Lovecraft’s part, but on Cthulhu’s, Yog-Sothoth’s, and the rest of the elder gods. They completely lack subtlety.

How I wish evil were so apparent, so obvious, so grossly disfigured and so hauntingly wrong. But it isn’t.

It presents itself as dazzlingly beautiful and familiar. Easy. Simple. Peaceful.

The history of Eternal Revolution – that is, this tiny effort of mine, is full of starts and stops, radical changes. I wish it wasn’t, I wish it was more consistent. I’ve merely explained it in the past as personal issues, a common euphemism.

But my erratic publishing schedule reflects the real Eternal Revolution well – a constant struggle against the crushing pressure of real evil. The kind that smiles at you as it throttles you. The kind that in the name of peace slowly destroys you. The evil that uses misdirection to point out that the world has gone wrong, that evil things are happening ‘out there’ while it lurks in your own home. In your family.

I don’t know why exactly, but my Facebook feed keeps bringing up Lovecraft and Thomas Kincade. Some articles keep getting cited about the freakishness of his peaceful paintings, and that something evil may have lurked there. There was seemingly something going on in his personal life as well. The theme is this: they look nice, they portray peace, but something is not natural, not right about them. After all, Satan appeared as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) .

You can’t keep a peace that does not exist. To keep a false peace is to insulate and protect evil. My family has kept horrors – true horrors – secret from the world for at least 5 generations. To break the silence has resulted in division of the family of biblical proportions. I’ve been disavowed, disinherited, broken and slandered by my own flesh and kin. It’s the evil that pelts you daily with toxic guilt, toxic shame, and misdirected anger. The wages of which are passed on to each generation until someone throws everything away to fight it, to resist, at all costs. That is the nature of evil. Invisible as long as you go along with it.

So let Cthulhu rise from the sea, or Congress, with all the strategy of a game of peek-a-boo. Such commanding display are pawns to distract us from the real terror, the true horror, that lies within. Look, there it is; don’t bother with your own knowledge of evil. Others are worse, behold them on the television!

Just because there is no camera on you, doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of ruining lives and souls – actively or passively.

I can tell you from experience – experience many of you share, but that we seldom if ever talk about – you don’t know just how much faith is a gift, or what courage you have, until faced with the true horror in your own life. That evil, that calling to keep a deceptive peace and to remain quiet, is what you have been called to fight first and foremost. For such a time as this were you born.

Pray for Revolution.

This post originally appeared on an earlier incarnation of the Eternal Revolution Blog. Cthulhu painting by CPOKashew on DeviantArt. 

 

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.

Disturb us, Lord: How to Pray Like a Pirate

 

Don’t be forgettin’ to talk to ye Cap’n. Have ye been gettin’ too soft on the shores? Git out there an’ Pray Like a Pirate!

Too often we be too comfortable with the crosses we bear e’ry day. We git too lilly-livered and cowardly, stayin in waters we know to be safe.

But yer Capt’n, the Christ Jesus, told ye to go out to all the world and preach ‘is good news. To serve the poor. To trust ‘im on the stormy seas of life.

So muster up yer courage and  ask yer Capt’n to push ye out to the depths, where thar be monsters, storms, and big beasties of life that ye need to trust ‘im, and not yer own strength.

In the words of the cur Francis Drake – counted as a scoundrel by all but the English, who went and knighted ‘im for plundering under their colors:

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

An’ fly the colors on yer gut with the Christian Pirate Shirt from Eternal Revolution.

(Originally posted on Talk Like A Pirate Day, September 19, on another incarnation of this blog. Hence the pirate-y composition.)

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.

Being Christian is More than Being Moral

 

About three years ago, Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales, gave an interview about Big Idea’s bankruptcy and what he learned from the company’s failure and his ambitions.

The things he said still ring true, perhaps even more. So it’s worth repeating here:

After the bankruptcy I had kind of a forced sabbatical of three or four months of spending time with God and listening to Him. I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality…

So I was acting like a big barracuda when in reality I’m a brainless, spineless bag of goo. And I only get my form when I stay in the current of God’s will and allow Him to carry me where He wants me to be. And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god. So I had to peel that apart. I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have…

If you are involved in a ministry, you really ought to read Phil’s epiphany here. But the above paragraphs have meaning to all of us.

Being Christian does not merely mean we are moral people. The 10 Commandments are a starting point, not the sum of the rules of life. Sure, none of us have a 100% success rate at keeping the commandments, but if you’ve been rather successful lately you can hardly consider that “Christian living.”

About the same time I read something that cited Phil’s article, I came across a quote from G.K. Chesterton on morals as goals. In his biography of George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton went on a tangent (as he does) about Nietzsche  and the superman.

“If he [the superman] is simply to be more just, more brave, or more merciful, then Zarathustra sinks into a Sunday-school teacher; the only way we can work for it is to be more just, more brave, and more merciful — sensible advice, but hardly startling.”

Phil realized that Bob and Larry were teaching mere moral virtues – in essence, nothing more than Zarathustra, Nietzsche’s prophet taught. No different, really, in the principles that any philosophy teaches, except from where we claim the authority came. So long as you follow the rules we have in common, what does it matter who gets the credit for authorship?

We are called to do more than just live moral, righteous lives. We’re called to love, trust God, and believe his promises. Charity, faith, and hope, in other words.

Jesus said to love our enemies, not just our friends. Not tolerate them, not endure them, not to “not hate” them, but to love them. We are told not to worry about tomorrow, or ask after what we shall eat, or wear beyond today – ask only for our daily bread. We are to hope in impossible things; those Israelites that walked across the Red Sea, with a pillar of fire in their midst, spent 40 years in the desert because when they got to Caanan they thought it would be “impossible” for God to keep his promise.

Instead, we Christians have given enough cause for governments to consider us a hate group, since our condemnation of others is more visible than our love of the unlovable. We have 401(k) plans, storing up our riches for rainy days or restful retirements. We don’t really act like we believe the promises God made to us, even when we profess that we do. We mix prudence with worldly financial advice and pass it off as ‘Christian’ even when it contradicts Christ’s instructions (Luke 12:13-21).

Be careful that you’re not drinking the American (or Western) cult cocktail of worldly Christianity. Keep striving to follow Jesus’ instructions – especially the ones that seem ridiculous and hard. Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect, not just good enough that others think you’re a good person.

Photo courtesy George Bannister 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.

Pray for Revolution

 

If you’ve ever received an email from me, I use a non-standard closing: “Pray for Revolution.” It’s a phrase that appears throughout the site here at Eternal Revolution and there is even a shirt design using the phrase. I realized I never explained the source anywhere on this site.

I admit, it is an unusual prayer request. It comes from Chesterton’s essay The Wind in the Trees, collected in Tremendous Trifles.

The wind is up above the world before a twig on the tree has moved. So there must always be a battle in the sky before there is a battle on the earth. Since it is lawful to pray for the coming of the kingdom, it is lawful also to pray for the coming of the revolution that shall restore the kingdom. It is lawful to hope to hear the wind of Heaven in the trees. It is lawful to pray “Thine anger come on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Chesterton’s point in the essay is that just just as the invisible force of the wind moves the trees, so too does the invisible forces of spirit come before the violence and madness of human revolt. “No man has ever seen a revolution,” G.K.C. summarizes.

It is certainly not the popular interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer. Yet as with most Chesterton quotes, once he points out the odd interpretation in makes a great deal of sense. We pray for the coming of the kingdom. We pray for His will to be done on earth. And what He said he came to bring was a fire that would consume the earth.

Does that fire consume the earth now? Does it even consume you? Is there a zeal, a passion, burning in your soul like the bush that spoke to Moses, or that pillar of fire that led the people of Israel through the desert?

If not, then pray for the revolution. Pray for the turning (volution) again (re) of your heart and mind back to the things of God. Turn away, again and again, from the things of this world.

All we can directly effect with our own will is our own person. The eternal revolution for which we pray every time we say the Our Father is therefore first and foremost an internal revolution. When properly burning within us, it will catch on to the world around us.

Nurture the flame of the spirit within yourself. Discipline your self, your mind, and your heart to follow the Lord’s will more and more closely every day.

And pray for 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.

10 Things Christians Fear That They Should Not

 

It is human to be afraid. Everyone is afraid of something (or somethings). Several fears are in fact common to a lot of people. 

Fear motivates us to change. Whether it is some learned trait for survival or a psychological reflex to avoid danger, when we act on our fears we make a choice to change our behavior, our circumstances, and even our lives.

In other words, what you fear, determines what you worship.

If you are afraid of being poor, you tend to idealize financial security. You worry about not having enough. You stress over unexpected costs. You feel more comfortable, more secure, with a certain dollar amount in your bank account. Your mood is a function of how much money you have and how much you feel you need at any given time. This is what the idolization of money looks like – you need not be wealthy to be a miser.

As Christians, we are told over and over in the Bible to not have fear. To put it more positively, we are told to have “fear of the Lord.” Not necessarily or solely fear of punishment from God, but a respectful fear that drowns out all other worldly fears. A fear of separation from He who is your security, and your foundation.

Here are just a few common fears that we Christians need to eliminate in ourselves, for they are symptoms of putting some other worldly good above our faith in God. There is a single verse I have associated with each one, but of course there are many more that could fit each, and some verses address more than one type of fear.

Financial Loss

Poverty. Job loss. Financial hardship. Not having enough money for college for your kids. Not having enough money for retirement. Not having enough for any reason. 

The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 1 Samuel 2:7

Pain

Suffering. Loss of Comfort.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Illness

Sickness. Fatigue. Poor health. Cancer. Obesity. Disease. Germs.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33

Death

Dying. Death of yourself. Death of a loved one. The dead.

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Hebrews 2:14-15

The Future

What will be or will not be. Being prepared. Change.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

The Past

Mistakes catching up with you. Family shame being exposed. Loss of time.

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:16

Judgement
Of others. Of God.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Separation
Loss of friends. Loss of family. Loneliness.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Evil

Bad things. People that mean you harm. Injustice. Evil spirits.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

The Devil

And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” Luke 10:18-19

 

Why then do you continue to be afraid? Seek to root out your fears, lest they drive you away from your relationship with God and weaken your 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.

Why Are You Here?

What makes less ‘sense’: 

Christian Pirate 

Christian Samurai 

or a Christian Financial Planner?

G.K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy: “Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world.” 

Obviously that isn’t true of Anne Rice’s ‘Christianity,’ but is it even true of Dave Ramsey’s, Rick Warren’s? What about your own ‘Christianity’? 

We are not here to earn a living. We are not here to save for a comfy retirement. We are not here to be comfortable, period. We are not here to be patriotic, to serve the state, or champion a political party or philosophy. 

Our heroes are those who smashed idols, were unpopular, were traitors, rebels and enemies of the State, were exiled, and were brutally killed. 

We are here to change the world, to set it on fire. To allow the kingdom of God to come upon the earth through us. Don’t lose sight of that.

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.

Called to be Faithful, not Successful

Although legendary and oft repeated quotes on the internet are sometimes inaccurate, and I have not been able to verify this one, the statement itself is very true:

 

God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.

-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

 

As you carry Christ’s message to the world, do not despair if no one hears you in the present. If you never seem to get ahead, if you barely keep your head above water – it doesn’t matter in the end. We are called to be faithful to a divine will, something not of this world. Material success is measured in worldly terms, and is worth nothing in the end.

So remember what it is you are called to be working towards. Let all that does not matter truly slide.

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.