God is nothing, they say Just imaginary games Yet morality, they claim Forgetting their context Ignoring histories flame Hanging by thin threads To ever-waning grace Blind to the inversion Holding conversions Creating diversions They know not their place Goodness without God Like moths to acrid flame Digging for diamond truths Yet never making gains Ignoring perversions Reality gone Almost without a trace Lost in oblivion No equilibrium Willful delirium From grace to disgrace Philosophy flipped aside Lost on the rising tide Grasping for hope inside But hope is not within It rides like winter wind From Heaven above Sometimes fire, sometimes rain Holy convocations Sacred invocations Life reawakened From death to God’s face
Heaven came down without a sound Into a lost world needing found Majestic angels gathered round Shepherds bowed low onto the ground Even as wise men sought the crown Emmanuel in a manger A single ray of light shown down The tyrant trembling at the news Assembled swords to slaughter Jews Hues of red innocent blood oozed The baby king is dead he mused Yet Christ lived on our sins to take Emmanuel in a manger A single ray of light shown down Heaven came down without a sound The miracle growing in a stable God in the flesh came to save us A lamb slain from the beginning Glory to God in the highest Emmanuel in a manger A single ray of light shown down
They twist and turn in the lamplights glow Whether friend or foe we do not know Tomorrow's ghosts above and below They are tellers of yesterday's truths The woven tales are not of their making The chains they clutch hellishly shaking With fingers pointed and backs aching They are tellers of yesterday's truths Consequences near or far removed Only delayed by time unreproved Their only intent is life improved They are tellers of yesterday's truths Can I deter my own convictions Interfere with mystic magicians Paving way for faulty suspicians For the tellers of yesterday's truths Holding onto hope like slippery pearls My tenderized heartache twists and twirls Fading memories chasing unkept trails From the tellers of yesterday's truths This transformation isn't complete Little changes building faith so sweet Ground thumping with irregular beats For the tellers of yesterday's truths May tomorrow's ghosts see helpless grace Arrogance gone like a broken vase Reckless demons falling out of place For the tellers of yesterday's truths
Those that run with swifter feet. Know not the grace of falling leaves. Nor the magic of treasures deep. For they move too fast and do not see. Those they love and things they need. They make their lists and miss the trees. The mystics mourn for living peace. Yet moments pass, and no one sees. Deeper wells of hidden gems. Forgetting depths of secret hymns. Humming unheard invocations. They won’t recall, and no one listens. Those that run with swifter feet. Might well find grace in slowing pace. For slow and steady wins the race. Avoiding dungeons, maintaining grace.
I’ll take you to the gates of Hell I’ll show you what’s there It’s a horrific, sadistic, gaudy affair With twisted metals and steep swirling stairs I’ll take you to the throne of Death I’ll show you the way It sits atop the fork of two great lakes One called disunion, the other disgrace I’ll take you to the bowels of Hades I’ll show you who’s there The liars, the lied-to, ordinary faces With haunted red eyes and bent bloody feet I’ll take you to the edge of Sorrow I’ll show you the pain The broken, intrepid, intricate traces Longing to find relief yet complacent I’ll take you to the verge of Salvation I’ll show you the plan The death, the water, the rush of language Choice determines the end destination
I’ve had to learn, Not every love comes with an expiration date, Not every heart comes filled with unrecognized rage, Not every kind word hides secrets full of hate, And fate does not control what God creates. If He is love then love is good regardless of the pain. Perhaps the good is better once the hurt has filled our veins. Maybe love is worth more than we can explain. God gave us hearts that break. And grace to put them back together again. I’m relearning love, and it’s better than it was Because love is more than fairy tales and pretty songs, beating hearts simple thoughts. It’s bigger than castles and kingdoms demons and dreamers roses and poems and old dusty speeches. It’s stronger than iron colder than frozen glass and burns like the summer sun. It’s laughter and tears, turmoil and fear. It’s incredibly happy and unbelievably sad. It’s anger and madness. It’s faithful and kind when things are bad. It’s tough in the struggle, a light in the dark. A whisper in the wind, a hand holding tight when the worst possible news steals your breath and holds it like a vice. Love forgets to remember and remembers to forgive when it does. That’s the paradox of love. It confronts and contends without controlling or pretending. It speaks up but never down. But most of all, it casts out fear. It just throws it out. It wrestles and fights and grabs it tight sometimes from morning to night until finally, perfect light. Suddenly, with flashes of godly light love shines so bright all traces of darkness vanish beneath its might. Finally, fear is forced back to Hell from whence it came.
If you are blissfully unaware of the atrocities taking place in Ukraine at the hands of Russia’s totalitarian president, Vladimir Putin, it’s past time to start paying attention. Why? Well, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes would put it, “Something sinister is afoot.” Empires of evil are on the move. Or rather, they’ve always been on the move, but now they are out in the open. Even as I type these words, bombs are falling on innocent children, and bullets are raining down on civilians who once thought themselves insusceptible to such violence. As I watch and read news clips and have conversations with friends and acquaintances about the Russian invasion, something nags in the back of my mind like a repressed memory that won’t surface. I’ve pondered over it, but even still, the precise nature of my concern hasn’t fully formed. But if you’ll bear with me, I’ll attempt to articulate a universal problem this recent invasion exposes.
An Oddly Shocking Emotion
I think it’s the shock—the sheer unadulterated disbelief. It’s plastered on the face of every pundit, politician, and private citizen as they talk about the invasion of Ukraine. Isn’t history filled with more war than peace? Yes, it is. Furthermore, doesn’t the Bible emphatically teach that peace will not be a long-term reality in this fallen world? Why, yes, it does. Sorrow, disgust, anger, disappointment, frustration, and indignation are appropriate emotions for this situation. Maybe I’m just strange, but all the shock doesn’t seem reasonable to me. Regardless, it does make sense because we’ve been carefully lulled into a utopian mindset. And I include Christians in that number. We’ve grown to believe that civilized nations don’t want war. We’ve bought the hedonistic lie that wars will cease to exist if everyone can just watch enough Netflix and get the newest Apple gadget. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think we have a well-developed philosophy. Theoretically, Christians know that things like materialism, social justice, and the redistribution of wealth are ultimately futile. They certainly don’t fill the human soul with peace. Yet, perhaps the materialistic side of things has unwittingly swept us into a slumber of sorts. To be kind, maybe it’s just been a light nap. Either way, it’s time to wake up and remember that evil is real, and it’s always prowling about in the shadows waiting for the chance to pounce.
The Fall of the Wall
I think the nap began at the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. When the Cold War ended, I was only six years old, and the Evil Soviet Empire collapsed. “We beat those commies back,” I’d hear the old folks say enthusiastically. But it would have been more accurate to say we temporarily pushed it back into the shadows. Few would have believed back in 1989 that most millennials would prefer socialism over freedom in a matter of decades.
It’s Hard to Find the Bodies
“At least they’re not commies,” you might say. But as Marion Smith, the director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said, “Christians go to heaven, whereas socialists go to communism.”[i] Michael Knowles perspicaciously points out in the forward to the must-read book, The Devil and Karl Marx, “The problem with socialism isn’t the inefficiency; it’s the evil.”[ii] Paul Kengor refers to communism as a “killing machine.” He states, “Any ideology with a trail of rot like this is not of God but of the forces against God. It is not of God’s creation but a fallen angel’s anti-creation. It is not of the light but of the dark.”[iii] He’s referring to the bloody death toll communism has amassed, which is a number somewhere between 100 million and 166 million people killed by communist regimes in the name of progress. You might wonder why we don’t know the exact numbers. Well, it’s hard to find the bodies. We’ll probably never know how many die each day in the concentration camps of North Korea or the secret barracks of China. And remember, we’re not talking about distant history. No. These things occurred in the twentieth century, and they’re still happening right now.
Michael Knowles perspicaciously points out in the forward to the must-read book, The Devil and Karl Marx, “The problem with socialism isn’t the inefficiency; it’s the evil.”Tweet
The Prince of Darkness Sold It to Me
I know it’s hard to look evil square in the face and acknowledge it’s real. We like to think of evil as something confined in history books or tucked away in some remote place far from us. Interestingly, most people equate the name Hitler with the deadliest form of evil. But even Hitler’s murderous reign of terror doesn’t come close to communism’s body count. Paul Kengor puts it this way:
In fact, neither did the two deadliest wars in history, World Wars I and II, which need to be combined and doubled to get near communism’s butcher’s bill. The highest estimates of death produced during the entirety of the Spanish Inquisition (a period of some sixty years) come nowhere near the level of death in Stalin’s military purge or even Lenin’s first year in power.[iv]
Interestingly, most people equate the name Hitler with the deadliest form of evil. But even Hitler’s murderous reign of terror doesn’t come close to communism’s body count.Tweet
As more history comes to light, it’s increasingly clear that communism’s titular founder, Karl Marx, was demon-possessed. His own family and friends referred to him as “governed by a demon,” “possessed,” and as “a monster of ten thousand devils.” And he was oddly fond of writing darkly religious poetry for someone supposedly guided by sheer atheism. Consider this poem by Marx called The Player:
“Look now, my blood-dark sword shall stab Unerringly within thy soul… The hellish vapors rise and fill the brain, Till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed. See the sword – the Prince of Darkness sold it to me. For he beats the time and gives the signs. Ever more boldly I play the dance of death."[v]
As more history comes to light, it’s increasingly clear that communism’s titular founder, Karl Marx, was demon-possessed. His own family and friends referred to him as “governed by a demon,” “possessed,” and as “a monster of ten thousand devils.”Tweet
The Courage to Confront
Michael Knowles, albeit unknowingly, prophetically summarized the current crises best:
The Evil Empire collapsed, but evil spirits continue to prowl about the earth seeking the ruin of souls because we contend in the end not against flesh and blood but against the spirits of wickedness in the high places, which will endure until the end of the world.[vi]
My point is not merely to decry the evils of communism, although I’d happily do that for hours on end; more importantly, I’m attempting to call us away from the self-inflicted ignorance of evil. Whether it’s a result of complacency, distraction, denial, simplistic naivety, or an “it’s not my problem” mentality. The thing about the “it’s not my problem” philosophy is that it’s not your problem yet. In his most famous Cold War speech Ronald Reagan quoting the infamous Sir Winston Churchill, said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits, not animals.” There’s a special kind of spiritual transcendence or religious awakening that can only be obtained by confronting the forces of malevolence head-on. And that process begins by mustering the courage to acknowledge the stark reality of evil and having the maturity to reckon with the fact that the problem of evil isn’t everybody else’s concern.
The thing about the “it’s not my problem” philosophy is that it’s not your problem yet.Tweet
There’s a special kind of spiritual transcendence that can only be obtained by confronting the forces of malevolence head-on. That begins by having the maturity to reckon with the fact that the problem of evil isn’t everybody else’s concern.Tweet
Sober & Vigilant
I’m not a war hawk. This isn’t meant to be a call to physical arms. I pray we’re not on the verge of World War III. I understand the United States shouldn’t be eager to fight even wars that would be morally good to fight. However, this is a call to spiritual arms. I’m sounding the alarm! We cannot be ignorant of the signs or the seasons. There’s more happening here than meets the eye. Prophecy is unfolding at the speed of light. I’m pleading with my brothers and sisters to be sober and vigilant. Put on the whole armor of God. Petty problems and silly past distractions must be discarded in the face of genuine evil.
“Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:6-9).”
[i] Kengor, Paul, and Michael J. Knowles. 2020. The devil and Karl Marx: communism’s long march of death, deception, and infiltration. 7.
[ii] Ibid., x.
[iii] Ibid., xv.
[iv] Ibid., xix.
[v] Ibid., 39.
[vi] Ibid., xi
The slumbering snore baffled the sages. Long tattered rags masked the seismic rage. For eons, scribes waited with bated breath. Ominous groans bolted prophets out of sleep. Fickle throngs belabored on with stopped-up ears. Battle drums beat somewhere in time's vast space, Faintly thumping as if Hell were marching in place. The Great Bear rose, and the Red Dragon groaned, The Eagle fluttered while the Rose tilted and swayed. Have you not seen, have you not heard? The time is at hand; the end is beginning. Faintly a horn blasts in the distance dreamily. A weary few were watching and listening easily. Others barely noticed until their screens glistened. Where did they go? The anchors droned on and on. An old tape squawked, I Wish We’d All Been Ready, the irony of something ignored so warily ignited feelings of agony until now left unexcited. How soon before vials break and wrath explodes? A trumpet blasts from heavenly places like a war cry. Have you not seen, have you not heard? The time is at hand; the end is beginning. Two fire-breathing preachers wandered outside, Speaking truths the world long shouted down. The beginning of sorrows and woe is trickling now. They shout in the streets like wild men of old. Beastly fury stamps them out they lie there cold. Moses? Elijah? Peter? James? John? No one knows. Fear, hunger, pain, madness, confusion, delusion crouch in the shadows. What does this mean? Every human lip screams. Have you not seen, have you not heard? The time is at hand; the end is beginning.
God knew that Adam couldn’t do it alone
So He created woman, bone of his bone
Once depleted, man now completed by Eve
Complementing, persuasive, persistent is she
Her powers unique, and different than his
In man’s weakness, she enhances his strengths
Disparate, distinct in every way, yet linked
Independent, yet dependent, fulfilling needs
Joined as one flesh, the two becoming as one
Now they are joined, under God’s holy Son
This poem was written for my lovely wife, Taylor, whom I affectionately call JJ.
Ep. 52 | Unusual Thanks, Completed (New Poem) & Gross-Good-Great (Special Thanksgiving Family Edition) – Apostolic Voice with Ryan French
A Brief Introduction
Daemonium Avi is a narrative poem based on an actual event that took place in the parking lot of my church. Daemonium is the Latin word for demonic, and avi is the Latin word for bird. I believe the title accurately describes the subject of the poem. Demonic Bird seemed to carry more gravitas in Latin. Plus, what is poetry without a little dramatic flair? However, the contents of this poem are true, and no dramatization could adequately capture the intensity of the spiritual encounter. Hopefully, poetically sharing this moment will remind others that the supernatural invades the natural more often than we realize. And that a person filled with the Holy Ghost has authority over satanic fear tactics. Resistance in the name of Jesus will cause the enemy to flee (James 4:7).
The car door thudded a final thump Keys rattled and clanked against A coffee cup of metal and steam It wafted tantalizingly in the sun Arms and elbows full of daily chores I fumbled around opening the door When a blackbird perched nearby Lifted a guttural unearthly cry Startled, I turned to see this beast Could this blackbird really speak Yes, it stared angrily towards me You’ll never win it screamed and shrieked God doesn’t care, and your faith is too weak I swallowed a lump lodged in my throat How did this brute steal my hope This blackbird wasn’t a bird at all Something sinister was truly involved Suddenly I noticed it’s crooked wing Hanging as if lodged by a string The bird spoke again, but this time it sneaked One step, then two, nearer it creeped Blurred vision, my head spinning ‘round My voice thickened to master a sound I knew this fowl was not Heaven sent A single prick of light suddenly hit The warmth of courage filled me up From head to toe, I shivered and shook Words tumbled out from somewhere below In Jesus’ name, be gone, thou devilish crow