Prophecy

A Word for the Prophetic Movement

by Mark Sandford,

In mid-April I began to feel purposeless, as if I were going nowhere (in spite of the fact that the opposite is true). I felt heavy and dead, and could take little joy in ministry. I have encountered many prophetic people who have been feeling the same way. But when I tell them why, their heavy feeling lifts.

Have you been feeling this way? Here's what I'm sensing. A change is coming in the prophetic movement. The movement began with a vibrant vision: we would rediscover the prophetic gift and office, and bring them back into the life of the Church. Joy came to many as prophetic words were fulfilled, but immature zeal has had its way. The need for accountability has been eclipsed by a quest for the excitement of prophecies (especially personal ones). We want so much to hear from God that we often fail to test prophetic words, as Scripture commands (1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 1 John 4:1).

Although the Bible regards false prophecies as a very serious matter, too many Christians treat them as a non-issue. A prophetic leader may give false prophecy after false prophecy, and it doesn't even occur to followers to test his words. When even our watchmen are not held accountable for their actions, who is left to warn teachers who would stray into heresy or pastors who would fall into sin? Ample objections come from the internet attack dogs who spew their vitriolic fire hoses not only on fires, but on the very fire of the Holy Spirit. But not enough prophetic voices are speaking out with the balance of firmness and compassion needed to protect the precious gifts with which God has entrusted us.

I sense that in order to protect His children from themselves, at this point the Holy Spirit is applying loving discipline by sending thousands of prophetic Christians into what St. John of the Cross dubbed, "the dark night of the soul." . If you are feeling the heaviness I have described, you may be one of them.

Or, if you have already been through the dark night, such feelings may signal a call to pray for others who are entering into it. God often causes us to feel what others feel, to prepare us to pray from a stance of empathy rather than judgment. If this describes your situation, you are probably beginning to feel lighter even as you read this, for you are realizing that the emotions you have been feeling are not your own.

In the sixteenth century, in his book, "The Dark Night of the Soul," St. John noted that when Christians discover spiritual gifts and mystical experiences they too often fall into spiritual pride, either knowingly or unknowingly, desiring to use these to gain notoriety. Some, aware of this temptation, become overly scrupulous. They desperately attempt to scrub every imperfection from their souls, unaware of a hidden motive to find peace in their own perfection rather than in the arms of a gracious and forgiving God.

St. John saw both of these reactions as expressions of "spiritual gluttony." Through his own suffering he learned that whether we are ravenous for notoriety or perfection, God cures us by putting us on a "spiritual diet." The following are signs that this is happening:

-- You may no longer find pleasure in the things of God or life in general.

-- You may no longer easily feel God's presence, have mystical experiences or hear prophetic words.

-- You may find it difficult to pray, feeling little or no enjoyment in it.

-- You may feel spiritually dead.

-- Because of all this, you may feel like God has abandoned you.

-- You may feel like you are backsliding.

--You may feel like everyone has forsaken you, especially your friends.

You may take all this to mean that God has removed His presence. Quite the opposite is true; He has increased it! It only feels like He has removed it, for two reasons. First, during the dark night you may feel like you are walking from a dimly lit room into full sunlight. The brightness of His holy presence can seem blinding, so that you can't see the light of His presence until the eyes of your spirit slowly adjust. Second, Malachi 3:3 says that God refines us like gold and silver. His increased presence can heat up the metal of your heart, causing dross to surface more quickly. You can become so aware of your sins and the deadness of your soul, that at first you do not perceive that His presence has increased.

You may also think the dark night is punishment or reaping for wrongdoing. It is not; it is God's way of leading you to despair of relying on your own strengths, abilities or gifts. In the process, you may discover sins you were previously unaware of, but these did not cause the dark night; they were merely revealed by it. So don't blame yourself for the dark night; be thankful that God is using this experience to build humble character that reflects more of His likeness.

How long must the dark night last? St. John suggested that in order for it to be effective, it should last at least a few years, but that is not absolute; there are many exceptions. It will last however long it takes to get you to the point of despair of self and then beyond it, to where you can abide in Christ, resting in the knowledge that without Him you can do nothing (John 15:5). Only God knows how long that will take.

Meanwhile, do not try ever harder to hear God or spend extra hours in fasting or Bible study in order to jump-start your stalled spiritual sensitivities (not that you should avoid these activities, but do avoid basing them on this motive). Rather, lean into God's embrace and cling to Him like a child in need. Jesus said, "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them" (Mark 10:15-16, NAS).

To live in Jesus' embrace is, quite simply, God's goal for the prophetic movement. For what is the ultimate purpose of any prophecy, whether it be a word of encouragement, a warning, or even an announcement of impending discipline? Simply to draw us closer to God. What, then, is most destructive to the prophetic movement? Focusing on prophecies instead of God.

For those of you who have been feeling the heaviness in brothers and sisters who are entering the dark night, pray that this will not be a time of torment for them. Torment will come if they strive to recover the thrills His gifts once gave them. Pray for the grace to let that go and to embrace the choice fruit which God designed this season to produce -- sweet contentment in the arms of a loving God. Imagine the babies Jesus took into His arms in Mark 10. Were they prideful? How could they be?

Babies have no gifts or achievements in which to take pride. Did they seek gifts instead of God? Babies know nothing of such things. All that matters to them is the rapturous heart-to-heart and spirit-to-spirit flow of the Father's love. "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." How we squirm in His arms! We would rather be down on the floor where we can play with our spiritual toys.

If you go through the dark night, spend a great deal of time in the quietness of God's embrace. Choose to soak in His presence, even if you cannot yet feel it. Eventually you will! The wait will cultivate patience and humility. Having endured a period without spiritual accomplishments, more than ever, you will know that you truly can do nothing in the power of your flesh. You will become more aware of your shortcomings and sins, yet be far less self-conscious and more self-accepting than before.

And when you finally begin to imbibe the deep satisfaction of the Father's love, it will make you "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3), for you will no longer feel the need to become rich in spiritual gifts. When gifts come, you will enjoy the God who gives them. When they are absent, you will enjoy God.

When the dark night has made you into a child who knows no reason for pride, it is then that God will increase the gifts, not only because you can be trusted with them, but because there will be less danger that you might use them to bring harm to yourself and others. And although you will be more able to feel God's presence and power, you will no longer see feelings as the measure of God's presence and power.

Lust for emotional highs will fade within the placid stillness of God's heavenly hug. And you will be able to invite others into that peace; you will be able to speak the truth -- even hard truth -- from no other motive than love.

Not everyone's "dark night" will look exactly like that outlined by St. John of the cross. Throughout Scripture we see saints who experienced elements of it, but each one's list of woes had its own configuration. What was common to all is that their time of suffering always led to the same blessed place.

David wrote, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1 NAS). But he also wrote many of the most joyful Psalms. Job complained, "I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me" (Job 30:20, NAS). But his life after his time of trial was twice as blessed as before (Job 42:12 NAS). In Lamentations 3:1-33, Jeremiah mentioned many of the elements of the dark night. He complained, "He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light (vs. 2, NIV). "Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer" (vs. 8, NAS). "My people...mock me in song all day long" (vs. 14, NIV). "I have been deprived of peace" (verse 17, NIV). "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord" (vs. 18, NIV).

Although Jeremiah's prophetic gift brought him nothing but rejection from his countrymen, he found his blessed place in God's embrace: "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (vss. 21-23).

In Lamentations 3:24 (NIV), Jeremiah said, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait on Him." This outlook was what got him through his trial, and the increase of this outlook was the end-result. What is your portion? The extent of your gifts? The "high" they make you feel? The admiration they inspire in others? Being right when others are wrong? Your mind might protest that this is not so, but only God knows your heart. He knows how long it will take you to learn to really live the words, "The Lord is my portion."

You may pray that the length of the dark night be shortened, but do not be dismayed if it is not. I sense that for many, it will last for the next three to four years. For you, it may last for any length of time within that time period. During that season, prophecies may be scarcer than before. Spiritual highs may be harder to come by. But afterward, you will find yourself in a place to be guided by a new vision -- one centered on the simple premise that it's all about the Father's love.

Jesus said, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24, NIV). In order to bear the fruit God intends, the current prophetic movement must die -- not die off, mind you, but die to its present form and state, to be resurrected into the balance that God intends for it.

"The Lord is my portion." When this season passes, for those who have allowed God to have His way, this may become the catch-phrase of the new vision for His prophetic movement.


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Prophecy

A Word for the Prophetic Movement

by Mark Sandford,

In mid-April I began to feel purposeless, as if I were going nowhere (in spite of the fact that the opposite is true). I felt heavy and dead, and could take little joy in ministry. I have encountered many prophetic people who have been feeling the same way. But when I tell them why, their heavy feeling lifts.

Have you been feeling this way? Here's what I'm sensing. A change is coming in the prophetic movement. The movement began with a vibrant vision: we would rediscover the prophetic gift and office, and bring them back into the life of the Church. Joy came to many as prophetic words were fulfilled, but immature zeal has had its way. The need for accountability has been eclipsed by a quest for the excitement of prophecies (especially personal ones). We want so much to hear from God that we often fail to test prophetic words, as Scripture commands (1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 1 John 4:1).

Although the Bible regards false prophecies as a very serious matter, too many Christians treat them as a non-issue. A prophetic leader may give false prophecy after false prophecy, and it doesn't even occur to followers to test his words. When even our watchmen are not held accountable for their actions, who is left to warn teachers who would stray into heresy or pastors who would fall into sin? Ample objections come from the internet attack dogs who spew their vitriolic fire hoses not only on fires, but on the very fire of the Holy Spirit. But not enough prophetic voices are speaking out with the balance of firmness and compassion needed to protect the precious gifts with which God has entrusted us.

I sense that in order to protect His children from themselves, at this point the Holy Spirit is applying loving discipline by sending thousands of prophetic Christians into what St. John of the Cross dubbed, "the dark night of the soul." . If you are feeling the heaviness I have described, you may be one of them.

Or, if you have already been through the dark night, such feelings may signal a call to pray for others who are entering into it. God often causes us to feel what others feel, to prepare us to pray from a stance of empathy rather than judgment. If this describes your situation, you are probably beginning to feel lighter even as you read this, for you are realizing that the emotions you have been feeling are not your own.

In the sixteenth century, in his book, "The Dark Night of the Soul," St. John noted that when Christians discover spiritual gifts and mystical experiences they too often fall into spiritual pride, either knowingly or unknowingly, desiring to use these to gain notoriety. Some, aware of this temptation, become overly scrupulous. They desperately attempt to scrub every imperfection from their souls, unaware of a hidden motive to find peace in their own perfection rather than in the arms of a gracious and forgiving God.

St. John saw both of these reactions as expressions of "spiritual gluttony." Through his own suffering he learned that whether we are ravenous for notoriety or perfection, God cures us by putting us on a "spiritual diet." The following are signs that this is happening:

-- You may no longer find pleasure in the things of God or life in general.

-- You may no longer easily feel God's presence, have mystical experiences or hear prophetic words.

-- You may find it difficult to pray, feeling little or no enjoyment in it.

-- You may feel spiritually dead.

-- Because of all this, you may feel like God has abandoned you.

-- You may feel like you are backsliding.

--You may feel like everyone has forsaken you, especially your friends.

You may take all this to mean that God has removed His presence. Quite the opposite is true; He has increased it! It only feels like He has removed it, for two reasons. First, during the dark night you may feel like you are walking from a dimly lit room into full sunlight. The brightness of His holy presence can seem blinding, so that you can't see the light of His presence until the eyes of your spirit slowly adjust. Second, Malachi 3:3 says that God refines us like gold and silver. His increased presence can heat up the metal of your heart, causing dross to surface more quickly. You can become so aware of your sins and the deadness of your soul, that at first you do not perceive that His presence has increased.

You may also think the dark night is punishment or reaping for wrongdoing. It is not; it is God's way of leading you to despair of relying on your own strengths, abilities or gifts. In the process, you may discover sins you were previously unaware of, but these did not cause the dark night; they were merely revealed by it. So don't blame yourself for the dark night; be thankful that God is using this experience to build humble character that reflects more of His likeness.

How long must the dark night last? St. John suggested that in order for it to be effective, it should last at least a few years, but that is not absolute; there are many exceptions. It will last however long it takes to get you to the point of despair of self and then beyond it, to where you can abide in Christ, resting in the knowledge that without Him you can do nothing (John 15:5). Only God knows how long that will take.

Meanwhile, do not try ever harder to hear God or spend extra hours in fasting or Bible study in order to jump-start your stalled spiritual sensitivities (not that you should avoid these activities, but do avoid basing them on this motive). Rather, lean into God's embrace and cling to Him like a child in need. Jesus said, "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them" (Mark 10:15-16, NAS).

To live in Jesus' embrace is, quite simply, God's goal for the prophetic movement. For what is the ultimate purpose of any prophecy, whether it be a word of encouragement, a warning, or even an announcement of impending discipline? Simply to draw us closer to God. What, then, is most destructive to the prophetic movement? Focusing on prophecies instead of God.

For those of you who have been feeling the heaviness in brothers and sisters who are entering the dark night, pray that this will not be a time of torment for them. Torment will come if they strive to recover the thrills His gifts once gave them. Pray for the grace to let that go and to embrace the choice fruit which God designed this season to produce -- sweet contentment in the arms of a loving God. Imagine the babies Jesus took into His arms in Mark 10. Were they prideful? How could they be?

Babies have no gifts or achievements in which to take pride. Did they seek gifts instead of God? Babies know nothing of such things. All that matters to them is the rapturous heart-to-heart and spirit-to-spirit flow of the Father's love. "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." How we squirm in His arms! We would rather be down on the floor where we can play with our spiritual toys.

If you go through the dark night, spend a great deal of time in the quietness of God's embrace. Choose to soak in His presence, even if you cannot yet feel it. Eventually you will! The wait will cultivate patience and humility. Having endured a period without spiritual accomplishments, more than ever, you will know that you truly can do nothing in the power of your flesh. You will become more aware of your shortcomings and sins, yet be far less self-conscious and more self-accepting than before.

And when you finally begin to imbibe the deep satisfaction of the Father's love, it will make you "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3), for you will no longer feel the need to become rich in spiritual gifts. When gifts come, you will enjoy the God who gives them. When they are absent, you will enjoy God.

When the dark night has made you into a child who knows no reason for pride, it is then that God will increase the gifts, not only because you can be trusted with them, but because there will be less danger that you might use them to bring harm to yourself and others. And although you will be more able to feel God's presence and power, you will no longer see feelings as the measure of God's presence and power.

Lust for emotional highs will fade within the placid stillness of God's heavenly hug. And you will be able to invite others into that peace; you will be able to speak the truth -- even hard truth -- from no other motive than love.

Not everyone's "dark night" will look exactly like that outlined by St. John of the cross. Throughout Scripture we see saints who experienced elements of it, but each one's list of woes had its own configuration. What was common to all is that their time of suffering always led to the same blessed place.

David wrote, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1 NAS). But he also wrote many of the most joyful Psalms. Job complained, "I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me" (Job 30:20, NAS). But his life after his time of trial was twice as blessed as before (Job 42:12 NAS). In Lamentations 3:1-33, Jeremiah mentioned many of the elements of the dark night. He complained, "He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light (vs. 2, NIV). "Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer" (vs. 8, NAS). "My people...mock me in song all day long" (vs. 14, NIV). "I have been deprived of peace" (verse 17, NIV). "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord" (vs. 18, NIV).

Although Jeremiah's prophetic gift brought him nothing but rejection from his countrymen, he found his blessed place in God's embrace: "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (vss. 21-23).

In Lamentations 3:24 (NIV), Jeremiah said, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait on Him." This outlook was what got him through his trial, and the increase of this outlook was the end-result. What is your portion? The extent of your gifts? The "high" they make you feel? The admiration they inspire in others? Being right when others are wrong? Your mind might protest that this is not so, but only God knows your heart. He knows how long it will take you to learn to really live the words, "The Lord is my portion."

You may pray that the length of the dark night be shortened, but do not be dismayed if it is not. I sense that for many, it will last for the next three to four years. For you, it may last for any length of time within that time period. During that season, prophecies may be scarcer than before. Spiritual highs may be harder to come by. But afterward, you will find yourself in a place to be guided by a new vision -- one centered on the simple premise that it's all about the Father's love.

Jesus said, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24, NIV). In order to bear the fruit God intends, the current prophetic movement must die -- not die off, mind you, but die to its present form and state, to be resurrected into the balance that God intends for it.

"The Lord is my portion." When this season passes, for those who have allowed God to have His way, this may become the catch-phrase of the new vision for His prophetic movement.


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Columns

What to Do

Half of society has decided that they don’t want to be told what to do.

It’s not that they don’t want to be bossed or controlled. It’s not that they want freedom. Though, they tell themselves such. Actually, they just want everything to be their own idea.

They don’t ask whether their actions will succeed or fail. They don’t ask if something is good or bad, desirable, healthy, painful, useful, wise, or quite the opposite of all these. They only ask whether someone is “telling them”.

If you tell such people, “Go, thrive, and succeed,” they will fail on purpose.  · · · →

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 24, 2017

All eyes on Korea means all eyes on China, which means all eyes on Trump. What’s at stake?—not nuclear war, not regional war, not freedom for northern Koreans, but a trade deal with China. At least, that’s the story if you ask the money channels.

China is a “gold mine for innovation”, the hope for breakthrough in the car crisis—in case you didn’t know there was a car crisis. Australia is partnering with—of all countries—China to address cyber theft. China is such a booming, excellent, most-happening place that Chinese investors have actually decided it’s a good idea to finally start reinvesting in their own country.

But, most importantly, Trump needs to be very, very careful in dealing with northern Korea. China even said so. They even made a phone call to say it.

continue reading

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, April 24, 2017

Most of the news about Bill O’Reilly examines the history of advertising, accusations, money, and news ratings. The main topic of headlines from big news outlets are about Fox News—not what Bill O’Reilly’s future is, but what Bill O’Reilly’s future is at Fox, the competitor of reporting news companies.

It was all political. Yes, there are and have been for quite some time bolstered allegations that O’Reilly has too much playtime. The allegations against him pale in comparison to Clinton—either Clinton. But, it only mattered before because Bill was Big. It only bit this time because Roger Ailes wasn’t there to circle the wagons and he was targeted by special groups, such as Color of Change, that go after a media personality’s advertisers. That tried and failed against Rush Limbaugh, but not against Glenn Beck, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, and now Bill O’Reilly.

Again, Sarah Palin called Republicans a “party of cannibals”. They are. Everyone has problems. Only venues that cater to Republican-voting audiences exploit each other’s problems like chickens in a pecking order. Were O’Reilly’s audience made mostly of Democrats, he might have been praised. Only Roger Ailes would not capitulate over the accusations against O’Reilly over a decade ago, but the Murdoch’s would capitulate over Ailes and they did last year. Now, Fox capitulated again. It won’t stop. Fox News is beginning a trend of giving in to every weak-kneed demand like General Motor’s executives caving-in to most every whim of the unions.

It’s over for Fox. It’s over and dead.

No industry leader allows its most-viewed show’s most-viewed host to leave—and continues to be the industry leader. Right or wrong, dishonest or ethical, when Fox News fired Bill O’Reilly Fox News fired itself. It’s all about money. Under the pioneer of Fox News, Ailes, it was about long-term money. Now, governed by some “great successor”, it’s about short-term money. It’s always been about money. Now that it’s become about the short-term, so short is the term Fox News has left.

Everything will shift to alternative media. O’Reilly is resuming his work at billoreilly.com as of Monday, April 24th. And, Milo Yiannopoulos announced this week that he is returning to the public eye in a “comeback tour”.

Big news venues have attempted to take out Donald Trump, bolster the Democratic candidate in Georgia’s special election—who still didn’t win the necessary 50% of the vote to keep his seat past June. And, Republicans continue to play a losing game—eleven Republican candidates in the same Georgia district!?

“Big News” is a dying industry cannibalizing itself.  Were it not for the desperate scramble for what remains of industry-wide dwindling ratings, Bill O’Reilly’s problems, whatever they may be, wouldn’t have mattered.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 17, 2017

It’s over. North Korea has been defrocked form among Communist nations. Russia and China aren’t trying to send any kind of message to the US by sending intel-gathering vessels to monitor the Vinson. Spectating usually indicates some kind of support. The “Ruskies” and “Chi-Coms”, as some affectionately call them, kicking back with coke and popcorn in hand isn’t exactly opposition. They are trying to send a message to Communists worldwide, including their own people: Act unruly and you’ll end up like North Korea.

The US can’t do an operation in their back yards without the neighbors keeping a close watch—and Northern Korea is in both Russian and Chinese back yards. If the Chinese and Russians wanted to send a message to Washington, they’d send attack vessels like Putin sent late to Syria—at least, he pretended to send a message.

Countries must appear strong. There is a lot of chest puffing and thumping, even with the soon-to-be-deposed occupation of Northern Korea. The Russians and Chinese will be glad to have the dictator child off of their table of concerns. And, in the process, they want their own people to know whose still boss.

So, it’s over. Soon, we’ll find out just how many Northern Koreans cried for the death of their late “Dear Leader” because they missed him or because they feared what the child dictator would do them if they didn’t. Korea is about to become one country, finally. Kim Jong-Un decided that over the weekend when he threw the temper tantrum that broke every camel’s back in the caravan. Now, the caravan is coming for him.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, April 17, 2017

America is seeing a lot of in-fighting, so we are led to believe. Some of it is purifying while some of it is foolish. Some is real while some is over-reported.

Reporting would have us believe that Trump’s administration is divided. Little be it known that Lincoln packed his own cabinet with opponents in the Republican primaries. Some competition isn’t exactly bad. But, we still won’t know the whole story for at least two years.

Bill O’Reilly’s career is all but over. The big question is about timing. Roger Ailes resigned about nine months ago amid accusations because he didn’t want to be a “distraction” at the network. Now, accusations against O’Reilly have been long floating like feathers of a pillow emptied in the streets. But, only now are they surfacing. Why? Being the “network for Conservatives”, Sarah Palin is right. Republicans are a “party of cannibals” and, now, that same in-fighting narrative is being reported in the White House.

While the Conservative voters don’t want anything to do with a “party of cannibals”, the establishments that depend on them—Fox News and the RNC being at the front—don’t seem to get that message. O’Reilly is Catholic. Conservatives are often Christian in some form or another. Forgiveness is part of their model. Fox News and the Republican party would both be wise to denounce their tradition of socially cannibalizing. Fox News doesn’t answer to CNN and NBC audiences, it answers to its the Fox News audience. If O’Reilly resigns, it’s the beginning of the end for the Fox News Channel. If Bannon resigns, it’s the end of the Republican party.

But, that’s okay. Another news network and another political party can always take their place. Maybe that would be best anyway.

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Columns

Two Types of Futurism

There are two types of reasons people predict the future.

The first type is common to everyone—we try to predict the future to see how well we know the past to guide us to accurately anticipate what will happen next.

The second reason is more of the psychopathic reason, and unfortunately is the hidden reason for many of us; the second reason for predicting the future is because we prefer our prediction to become the future. Sometimes, this is called “wishful thinking”.

Believing something will happen and agreeing that something should happen are two different things. Don’t be confused.  · · · →

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Letters

A Rookie Believer

Some years ago, a friend of mine died.

She was a baby Christian, very young in her faith, and frankly, pretty immature, but she was growing.

She was 94, a 94-year-old baby Christian.

So she had a most unusual combination of character traits: some aspects of the wisdom that comes from nearly a century’s experience with life; some aspects that were wet-behind-the-ears fresh and immature. What an interesting person!

Donald Trump reminds me of her. He’s by no means a young or immature man. But he displays signs of what appears to be both sincere faith, and immature faith. I won’t get into what signs I see; you can see them for yourself if you look for them.


If it’s true that Mr Trump is an immature believer (keep in mind that maturity is a condition of the heart, not of the calendar), then we should expect to see some signs of immature faith moving forward.

We should expect to see a whole lot of zeal for the work he’s been given, with maybe a little more optimism than the real world allows for.

We should expect him to see inconsistency in the maturity of his moral and ethical choices. Note that he may or may not be immature of faith but he certainly is immature in politics, and he is not at all immature in business.

We might expect to see mistakes that he needs help cleaning up.


But it would be completely foolish to expect to see him follow the model laid down by your pastor, or by a famous religious leader. He ain’t never been a religious leader, and doesn’t aspire to be. 
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Letters

A Rookie Believer

Some years ago, a friend of mine died.

She was a baby Christian, very young in her faith, and frankly, pretty immature, but she was growing.

She was 94, a 94-year-old baby Christian.

So she had a most unusual combination of character traits: some aspects of the wisdom that comes from nearly a century’s experience with life; some aspects that were wet-behind-the-ears fresh and immature. What an interesting person!

Donald Trump reminds me of her. He’s by no means a young or immature man. But he displays signs of what appears to be both sincere faith, and immature faith. I won’t get into what signs I see; you can see them for yourself if you look for them.


If it’s true that Mr Trump is an immature believer (keep in mind that maturity is a condition of the heart, not of the calendar), then we should expect to see some signs of immature faith moving forward.

We should expect to see a whole lot of zeal for the work he’s been given, with maybe a little more optimism than the real world allows for.

We should expect him to see inconsistency in the maturity of his moral and ethical choices. Note that he may or may not be immature of faith but he certainly is immature in politics, and he is not at all immature in business.

We might expect to see mistakes that he needs help cleaning up.


But it would be completely foolish to expect to see him follow the model laid down by your pastor, or by a famous religious leader. He ain’t never been a religious leader, and doesn’t aspire to be. 
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Symphony

Drafting Peace in the Pacific: Asia, April 13, 2017

We no longer live in a world without alliances. Yes, individual nations retain sovereignty within their borders. However, the days are over when a single nation will boss and police an entire region alone. One nation can no longer take out an “enemy” in another nation as the “lone ranger”. Any nation that tries will face scorn from others. If a government goes rogue, a plurality of other nations must intervene. This is international political gravity today.

We live in a world of growing alliances between sovereign nations.

China has been seeking respect and peace in its part of the world. The US has been seeking to cut off enemies before they have an opportunity to grow. In the Far East, the US’ solution has been to patrol freely in Asian waters. China’s solution has been to fly its national flag on more soil. Neither process will continue to work. And, if both processes continue, they will lead to unimaginable fallout, what some might think as WWIII, though still not that grand.  · · · →

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, April 10, 2017

Xi Jinping’s poker face waned. He’s not happy, though the reasons elude most Western readers. Though not democratic, Xi is a politician. He must balance wisdom with pleasing the veiled powers that overshadow the goings on of China. Those powers won’t hesitate to give the ax to any leader who fails to deliver on their expansionist ambitions. Xi has fought corruption and sought infrastructure. Xi was gaining momentum. Now, the US and Russia are rumbling in both of China’s back yards weeks after Xi announced that, where military tech is concerned, China needs to play “catch-up” or become “ketchup”. This can’t be good for Xi’s inside politics with Chinese elections approaching.

Trump certainly isn’t pulling any punches. Striking Syria while dining with China’s Chairman wasn’t unintentional. Remember, Trump has dealt with the Chinese on many occasion. Xi is difficult to read, except to say his rehearsed Asian smile is waning. A micron might as well be a mile in an Asian smile. In the weeks ahead, remember that Xi is half himself and half the hidden hand that controls all that goes on in China. That’s true of every Chinese president. In all this, Xi met with Trump and all went well. No matter when or how Xi’s career closes, no matter what his true ambitions were, China will go on and history will remember Chinese President Xi as the builder of bridges, inroads, aircraft carriers, and islands.

Xi wanted to remind the US of its Capitalist values: Don’t blame others for your problems. Yet, China clearly doesn’t share those values. Neither does North Korea, the stray dog that has adopted the doorstep at China’s northern back yard.

From China’s vantage point, North Korea is a nuisance and an excuse for an unwelcome US presence. Kim Dynasty narcissism has over-played and pushed the envelope with Beijing. Watch for Chinese heads of State to bark, then look the other way, much how the US does when Israel responds to Palestine.

So, why is the media announcing and discussing the possibilities of dealing with North Korea? True military tactics never make it on television—unless the reporter finds himself accused of a frivolous-like sexual crime and holes-up in an Ecuadoran Embassy to avoid extradition for espionage. It’s discussion on US military options like we saw over North Korea this week that makes it difficult for a US prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian “Espionage” Assange to seem believable from any angle. “Assassination, nuke-up, or surgical strike” are only media talking points to make the greater point: Knock it off or else.

Assassinations are illegal for the US according to the US’ own law, viz Executive Order 12333. It is doubtful, even in Trump’s stock-up on signing pens, that he plans to wipe out that order for North Korea alone—if he does, Assad is his next target and Kim was just an excuse. The US hopes to finish this situation in Korea before a nuclear buildup has time to grow moss. So does China. A “nuke-up” wouldn’t be grand strategy. An internal strike inside North Korea would illicit an avalanche. Anti-Iraq II Donald J. Trump won’t want to create another “vacuum”. A surgical strike would be an assist for something else. What’s really going on? Don’t think for one second that the media does know or that CIA doesn’t.

There’s joker in the North Korean deck and it is stacked to favor the West. We’ll just have to keep watching.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, April 10, 2017

Senate Democrats are now making noises about 60-vote cloture being removed for legislation. The cloture rule was removed 55-45 for Supreme Court nominees. Why Democrats have brought up the discussion for removing the cloture rule altogether remains a mystery, unless they expect to use fear as a preventative tactic in 2018. However, once an idea is introduced, even if by fear, the idea is up for valid discussion. Had Democrats hoped to retain cloture for legislation, they should have allowed Republicans to bring it up first. Now, elimination of the cloture rule altogether is inevitable.

The White House is in somewhat of a shakeup. Chief “Strategerist” Steve Bannon is getting shuffled, but no reasons seem to be valid. We may not find out the real reasons for at least two years, once the presses cool off, the stakes aren’t as high, and people aren’t so tight-lipped about inside baseball.

Trump ordered a 59-Tomahawk cruise missile strike on Syria after 80 were killed with nerve gas. The missiles targeted what was thought to be the base for the gas attack. Russia is also on the scene. The nerve gas was banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Putin responded with his usual worldview of nationalist, socialist victimhood. Whatever he and his crew resort to is necessary because of what the West took from them in the zero sum game. Putin is a true Hitler—gentle and endearing as a teddy bear who never raises his voice before his audience, compassionate, polite, never rude, never tough to critique directly, only strong to march behind, and everything he does is excused by what “they did to us”.

Syria’s use of banned chemical weapons could have been a ploy all along, by the Russians and their allies, to draw Trump’s action to justify escalation. Though it may have been bait from the Russian’s view, it might have been brilliant for Trump to tell the world that the US isn’t pantie-whipped anymore and to draw Russia’s attention to the Middle East while the USS Carl Vinson carrier group goes to North Korea.

Nearly 100k jobs were created in March alone, over 200k in February. An accurate presidential poll—Investor’s Business Daily—ranked Trump at 34% approval. Since Trump took office, Americans have only seen two results: a boom in jobs and an onslaught from the news industry. The people haven’t heard much from Trump directly because he is too busy keeping promises, no matter how politically controversial those promises are.

With good and bad news, people’s political opinions haven’t changed; they have only strengthened. And, that strengthening is just now getting started.

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Columns

Two Views of Strength

Whether brain or brawn—there are two worldviews about where strength comes from.

Some believe strength is arbitrarily bestowed from above. We are on the earth are mere objects of favor and misfortune. Those with more stole it from others in this grand, zero sum game called Life. Only the poor understand wealth.

Others believe strength comes from hard work and choosing battles wisely. Working people are strong in mind or body or both. Peaceful people don’t deplete themselves of their energies and are fierce when roused to arms.

Both have unfair advantages to exploit and hard choices to make.  · · · →

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