The Tribulation: Why I Am Not Building a Compound

Armageddon ExplosionPower. Authority. Responsibility. All of these things are connected, and they are some of the first lessons we learn as children, though so many of us never realize just how clearly our lives will be constantly impacted by those lessons until the day we die.

I have met so many people in my life, from differing walks of life, with different priorities, values, hopes, and fears. Yet the one common thread we all share in our lives is we are ruled by our subconscious understanding of the power we either have or lack in our own lives, the amount other people in our lives wield over us, and what responsibilities this invisible force has saddled us and them with.

When power corrupts, as it inevitably does, the authority over us begins to benefit those with the power at our expense, and the responsibilities towards those under that authority begin to get lost, twisted, or forgotten.

Power always corrupts the person with it, and a wise person would avoid allowing too much of it into his or her own lives, and for only short amountscorruption in leadership of time. The very minute a man or woman believes this principle does not apply to them, they have already begun to decline under the taint of that power.

None of us are immune, because at each of our very core, we are motivated by selfishness, and when mixed with power, the decline is simply inevitable. Our fall from grace was universal save One, and that seed of self grows hardily when growing in the vicinity of power. The more absolute the power, the quicker that selfishness becomes involved in decisions, and eventually, with enough time, it takes over all motivations. Put simply, power makes more of what we want for ourselves available to us.

History is crammed full of egotistical, narcissistic leaders clearly uninterested in anything other than themselves, and those who suffered beneath them. Where there was a tyrant, there was always a rebel too.

Martin LutherAll throughout history, there were those people who chose to rebel, either by sword or by pen, but universally, these rebels were punished mercilessly for this resistance if caught. They were often tortured, imprisoned for life, or murdered, and sometimes even their families and friends suffered as well. Yet, a human being eventually always found that resistance, though probably futile, and most likely, fatal, was their only choice.

I am a rebel, though it has made me unpopular with numerous school authorities, A.B.L.E., a few supervisors of places I’ve worked, and our legal system as a whole. The same could be said about my daughter Rebekkah, and I have watched her take the hard line against rules she disagrees with many times over the years. It simply never occurs to her to do the easy thing by just giving them what they want. To her, with much power comes much responsibility, and she dares to question motives that are clearly self-serving.

This morning, I was thinking about the end times, the rapture, and those believers I know who are busy creating compounds, or collecting unaltered Habbakakseeds to plant, or stocking basements full of canned goods and weapons in preparation for the return of the Lord.

I was struck by how shocked some of these same prophecy-focused people get when I speak out against decisions made by our government, or point out the flagrant differences in what those in power can get away with and what those of us with no power can. I handled my daughter’s arrest like I always do…with some humor, a little anxiousness, and some amount of pride in having a child willing to stand up to authority that is being abused. She never wins, but she keeps trying. I can’t help but admire that.

hdwallpapersimage.com-silhouette-behind-the-glass-wide-hd-wallpaper-1920x1200Police officers are killing those they were supposedly hired to serve and protect alarmingly regularly these days. They are investigated by their own, dismissed by their own, and the arrogant way the rest of us are informed of their decisions shows a huge lack of respect that goes both ways. And yet, the voices of those who question the obviously retarded judicial system are met with many more who believe the fairy tale that all cops are above reproach and their lives must be guarded above those of us they are to govern. I’m shocked at how easily people are convinced that one human being’s life is more valuable than another’s by virtue of a job title.

Now, law enforcement is a must for any society, and I am not advocating anarchy. But there is something wrong when so many people are being killed by them, and when the stories that cameras are telling don’t match the stories coming from the shooters. In between these events, we are bombarded with news of police officers taking bribes, sexually abusing women and children, dealing drugs, running prostitution rings, lying on court records, stealing from people they are investigating, and no end to other crimes against their communities. The boldness in the types of crimes so commonly performed by law enforcement has a particular stench to it. The stench of power gone sour.

It’s us and them, and the tension is almost palatable. Police officers are jumpy and distrustful these days, and with good reason. So many of them have become desensitized by dealing with the criminal elements of mankind, and the gulf between those who serve and those they serve is very deep and very wide. And it’s getter even wider. Power has corrupted and the rebels have begun to object. It is the natural order of things, and I’m amazed at how so many people seem surprised by all of this.

In case after case of fatal police shootings, I hear a few of these apocalypse-preppers appalled at the reactions of frustrated people in these communities, parroting what journalists and critics are saying about people using this unfortunate event to steal stuff and play with fire. Really? I hear the formally accepted viewpoint spewing from people in lines at the stores, at restaurant tables, and in offices all across the country. A carefully prepared explanation for poor decisions made by people who shouldn’t be allowed to make these kinds of poor decisions and remain in authority. Only lies have to be crafted carefully.

Mark of the BeastMore than once, I’ve heard American citizens express the opinion that our own military be brought in to crush riots and rebellion. I find that a dangerous opinion and one probably not well thought out. These people are the good citizens, who live by the rules, and more importantly, have the money to remain within those rules. The occasions to interact with a police officer are few and far between, and the idea that people can and are being mistreated by them just doesn’t seem plausible. It is easier to believe that if the police shot and killed someone, that guy did something to deserve it. This, to me, is just plain dangerous thinking. That thinking benefits those in power only, and that should be a warning sign that we are being lulled to sleep.

Thankfully, on the other side of the spectrum, there are those who question everything. They are the necessary voice of rebellion, questioning motives, decisions, and pointing attention to consequences that people have been conditioned into ignoring. They protest everything from the ridiculous fee we are charged so our kids can set up a freaking lemonade stand in a quiet neighborhood, to the obvious fleecing of our most impoverished citizens.

Let’s really look at the motivations going on around Tulsa, Oklahoma these days.police arrest protester

Cops rarely pull over expensive cars, or routinely patrol nicer areas of Tulsa. They congregate where those drivers who can barely afford gasoline, much less a lawyer, commute.

Why?

Because the odds a citizen with no money, evidenced by the junked out car he’s driving out of the Northside ghetto neighborhood, will fight a ticket are really, really low, while the chances of catching an expired sticker … an instant $300, baby!!…are much higher. And if he doesn’t have insurance, then you’ve just doubled that amount. It isn’t about dark_army-770295 (1)making any of us safer. It is about money. Money, money, money, baby! I’ve been in the position where I had to choose between auto insurance and food. Which do you really feel you would choose if you were hungry? Are we safer if I have auto insurance or if I have food?

These drivers are the people who don’t run in the same circles as the judges, senators, or town leaders, and a golf game isn’t going to get them out of paying fines, fees, and interest. Each one of them pulled over these days, will find themselves embroiled in a shocking web of financial shit no one but the poor would endure. Amounts will change, grow, and explanations will not be forthcoming. And for those who simply aren’t able to pay, a jail cell awaits until they figure out a way to cough it up. It is a modern day debtor’s prison, completely unconstitutional, and yet glaringly ignored by those with the power to change it.

If the ability of the greater to see through the eyes of the weaker is truly the measure of greatness, then I’m not finding much greatness in Tulsa these days.

cs lewisI say all of this only to point out, be careful about being lulled into a kind of sleep when it comes to judging the actions of those in authority over you. Don’t allow yourself to be conditioned into reacting the way those in power at this moment in time would have you react instead of seeing the truth and pointing it out to others. And for the Christians anxiously preparing for the end times, I would ask you one question. What good is all of the water, oil, guns, and compound walls when you have already been conditioned by the enemy to see your enemy as your brother and your brother as the enemy?

I have a feeling if we have problems speaking up when a sheriff lies about the reason he pulled us over, or sit silently while a judge publicly derides a citizen in her court over the right to request a lawyer to represent her interests, we aren’t going to handle guillotines cutting off our heads and marks of the beast much better.  Guarding your mind and your heart are infinitely more important than guarding your food and water supplies in the last days.

I think it was no accident that Jesus used the parable of the servants keeping their lamps trimmed with oil for when the Brides-groom should return.lamp Lamps only shed light for those of us who are not blind. It is worth a few minutes to make sure your eyes are able to see all that is going on around you, and prepare yourself for more than physical hardships that will accompany His Return.

I don’t worry too much about stockpiling food and weapons, or building a compound to ride out the tribulation in. People like Rebekkah and me will be struck down early in this struggle, because we are unable to rest easy under the yoke of this world, and our willingness to voice our concerns despite the repercussions has now been well documented.

And frankly, that’s fine by me. 🙂 I want to have died with my boots on.

~ Bird

How’s Your Fruit Hanging These Days?

fruit-of-the-spirit-sampleI had some problems crop up this week that really challenged my desire to walk an authentic Christian life. I don’t want to be a Sunday Christian… I am always a Christian. Just, sometimes, I’m also a pathetically weak one.

Normally, when I am faced with problems that aren’t specifically coming from a person, I find it easy to trust the Lord and remain calm and optimistic. But when another person seems to intentionally cause me undue stress or hardships, that is so much harder for me to deal with. In situations like these, there is an actual perceived enemy to attack, and my natural inclination is to always annihilate anything or anyone I take as a threat. What can I say? I’m a warrior.

Since the parting of ways with my ex-husband, it is no secret that I have been struggling financially. Everything these days is expensive, but jobs are paying less than they once did. I feel strongly about Rebekkah earning her degree, and so barring anything miraculous, I am probably going to have this problem for another three years at least.

I’ve learned to trust the Lord with my very physical existence, be it food, water, shelter, and even clothes, and that of my daughter’s and the animal’s. Hey, we haven’t starved yet! But with large, unforeseen expenses, the stress is doubled because I rarely get large chunks of money at one time, and almost every dime we bring into the house goes to utilities, rent, or food. There simply is no extra to save for a rainy day. This rainy day was the fuel pump going out on my truck.

Without going into a lot of detail, I paid someone a considerable amount of money to fix this problem, and they didn’t, or 562621b2a11da903a2eb77d0cefe8084couldn’t, as it were. Plus, they don’t feel they should have to give me any of it back because they at least tried to fix it. For two weeks, I had been told that it would be back to me the next day. And then each day, I would be told something had come up and it would be the next day again. Finally, I told them to just tow it to a mechanic in town, and for days again, I kept getting promises to do just that, only to have excuses why it wasn’t done, over and over again.

Now, if I want them to bring it back, they want another $50 for gas and the use of their trailer. What a freaking nightmare.The worse part is, I work with one of these people, and she got me in some trouble with my boss with what I feel was a very misleading story designed to cover her getting trouble at work. She used something I consider to be part of my personal life as an excuse for being late to work. It would be understandable if that were true, but it simply was not. Text messages and times of phone calls easily disproved I had anything to do with her tardiness. And her lie painted both Rebekkah and I as the trashiest kinds of people. We were both greatly offended.

By the time I was able to piece together what she had said and why, I was beyond furious at her, and the people who believed her, and my manager for not even asking what my take on this lie was. Now, the problem was addressed, the truth was discovered, and all is fine now at work. But let me tell you, it was not pleasant, and I found myself distancing myself from people who had acted in a typical, flawed-but-human way.

Now, this is absolutely not a tattle-tale post. I don’t know where these people are spiritually, and I do know they struggle with their own financial difficulties, just like Rebekkah and I do. This post is about me, and about how I am going to react.

impossibleI can’t even begin to describe how often I run into people who claim to be Christians, and yet act in no different manners than people who aren’t saved act. I’ve seen people pray over meetings, sitting next to women they were cheating on their wives with. I’ve seen Christians do evil on every spectrum, and sadly, I include myself in this. The flesh is always in constant struggle with God, and always will be until we are freed from it’s deathly taint.

I know it comes as no surprise that I have a temper. I had much better control of it when Chef and I were together, but for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I have a shorter fuse than before. Maybe it is because life just seems so much heavier now that all the responsibility of it lies solely on my shoulders. Whatever the reason, 90% of my failings these days can be laid squarely at the feet of me losing my cool.

Up until this week, I couldn’t complain about my job or most of the people I worked with. But when all of this happened, I felt betrayed again, though on a much smaller scale than when Chef had done it. I wanted to use my sharp mouth to attack any perceived accuser. Fortunately, I didn’t. I can’t say I was sweating blood in the struggle to maintain, but it was close.

Throughout that whole miserable day, though, the Lord kept reminding me of Galatians 5, and how people who have Him working through them will show good fruit to any one watching. Here’s the verse.

 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire426532263_640-640x360 against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

      25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:16-26

I don’t want to be the kind of person who talks a good talk, then blows my witness spectacularly having a temper tantrum. I don’t want to cause division and derision between people. I don’t want to be a big, fat hypocrite. I want every minute of my life to showcase God’s mercy, and His kindness, and His grace. I want this with every fiber of my being, even though I will often fail despite my desire.

downloadMy lesson from all of this is this: the real tribulation we should all prepare for are the tribulations we face daily in our lives as we interact with others who are also hopelessly bound to their flesh, same as us. It is infinitely easier to believe that we will choose death over receiving the mark of the beast in some hazy future scenario than it is to forgive the little, short-term injustices we experience at the hands of others all the time. If you want to be trusted with the big things, you first have to prove you can be successful with the smaller ones.

I almost never get through a time of testing without some failure on my part to confess, but this time, I think I have to thank the Lord for being so present in all of this, and for showing me what all of this was about without also having to go behind me and clean up yet another mess I’d made with my big mouth. Thanks, Lord!

As the saying goes, if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backwards. As time goes by, all truly saved Christians are expected to show the fruit of having the Holy Spirit teaching them. These should be love for other people, joy in not only your triumphs, but joy in the good things that happen to other people. You should be finding peace in situations that once were so hard for you to deal with. You should be getting more patient, kind, and good. You should struggle more against sin, and your faith shouldn’t be flickering. Your actions towards others should be becoming gentler, and you most definitely should be gaining some control over your own actions. 

I’ve got a long, long way to go before I can honestly say I’ve gotten the victory over my flesh. But after this whole experience, I can say that I’m humbled that the Lord continues to work in me, and on me, and through me. You honor me, Lord, with your love and your mercy. 🙂

~ Bird