Ambition and the Kingdom

Perhaps I am at a unique juncture in my life that many do not attain to, but I feel like I have done every natural thing I’ve ever really wanted to do (outside of write and publish a book). To elaborate, becoming a Marine was my superhero dream as a child – I greatly admired my grandfather who had retired as a LtCol (and I would later come to find out survived some of the bloodiest battles in USMC history) and watching documentaries about Marines made them seem like super humans. As I grew into a young boy and young “adult,” I never acquired much physique and moving into high school I dropped sports and focused purely on academics and the debate team.

When I moved to Utah at the age of 17 to escape a negative living environment, I only became more and more sedentary. I found success at both of the jobs that ended up hiring me, eventually focusing on one and becoming promoted to Assistant Manager at the number 1 store for a national watch retailer and repair shop. One of the VPs (the son of the man who started the company when it had been family owned) wanted to adopt me into the family, and it wasn’t just a joke. But this was back in 2007, with the economic downturn, and I didn’t like the way corporate had phrased some of their emails about why numbers weren’t as high as expected, so I decided to jump that sinking ship and consider a career in the Marine Corps.

There were many conflicting reasons about why I enlisted (especially during a bad time in the war) but the fact remains that I did it and I earned the title. Later in my career I attained all the glory I could ever hope for as a Lance Corporal when Marines I served with considered me their hero for going through a difficult Request Mast (a risky whistle-blowing maneuver). My ambition was to carry on in the Marine Corps and go as high as I could go – even after the office of the Commandant if I could.

It was very shortly after I had received all this glory and praise that the Holy Spirit came upon me for the first time in a decade or longer. However, because I wasn’t grounded in the scriptures and didn’t have a man of God in my life at the time, the simple message the Spirit was trying to give me (about divine governmental order) was twisted and corrupted by my own pride and by the whisperings of the devil. I thought that I could profit from this seemingly random epiphany and attain great rewards from the Marine Corps because of it. The Bible instructs us to buy truth but never sell it and because we have been given much we should also therefore freely give.

It’s taken five years to fully process that simple message the Spirit gave me and now I can say that I no longer have any earthly ambition that is driving me. My ambition is for the advancement of the Kingdom of Heaven; my heart is truly to see the Kingdom advance as quickly and efficiently as possible and to play whatever role I am to play in doing that. One of the gifts that I have been given by our creator is a proficiency with the English language (both spoken and written) and so if I can help do His will through His gifts, I will. Moreover scripture tells us that the Father will give us the desires of our heart when we walk with him, so I very well could end up writing a book and then I would well and truly have no earthly ambition left. (I’ve sometimes thought I might want to be the father of a family but it’s never been something I’ve fully committed to wanting – but that is another way that I could be blessed should I continue in the discipline of His will and not mine.)

So my question to anyone who reads this blog is – where are your ambitions? Are you still striving for rewards in the natural or have you realized that the only thing we’re taking out of this life is our relationships with other people? This doesn’t mean that a life of poverty is for everyone, nor does it mean that everyone will have a life of great financial abundance. But everyone is guaranteed a life of great spiritual abundance by obeying the King and living according to the laws of the Kingdom, such that, like Paul, we know how to live in abundance and live in abasement.

We’re to judge ourselves before we judge anyone else. I consider myself nothing but a private in YHWH Tzabaoth’s Army, having been little more than a “super private” (E3, Lance Corporal) in the United States Marine Corps. YHWH Tzabaoth’s Army has a better benefits package and if the USMC can be considered one of the most elite fighting forces that has ever been on this natural Earth then almost certainly His Army would be that much more excellent. Similarly, if the USMC’s boot camp and enlistment requirements are stringent, so much more would His Army’s requirements and disciplines be.

We may take some measure of pride and comfort in thinking that we are all soldiers in His Army but I would have to ask the tough question of what are your fruits in the role and capacity of a soldier for Elohim? What battles have you been winning when it comes to spiritual warfare for yourself and more importantly for other people? What formations are you marching in? Do you know how to wear the uniform of the day, and do you know what uniform goes with what posting? Do you know the standing orders and do you know how to seek out those other people we are to temporally obey because they’ve already put in the years and have lived the discipline? While ultimately Yeshua is our one and only true commanding officer, we are still to recognize those who have gone before us and whose iron will sharpen our iron on our path to report in to Yeshua for our next set of orders.

I know at least one man who is sharp enough that he could be considered a master blacksmith, able to forge swords out of scrap metal. That is not something that I can currently do, but if we have the heavenly perspective we realize that there is an element of an illusory nature to time, in that, in the Eternal realms the victory has already been won and we are already reigning with Christ! I know that one day, should I continue my walk down the narrow path faithfully and not be turned aside by things like worry, doubt, or my own flesh, I too will be able to forge swords from scrap metal. In fact, part of what I feel called to do is to re-equip the saints with a modern understanding of warfare, as the modern world is that much more complex and complicated compared to the ways warfare was fought 2000 years ago. How accurate are you as a basic soldier with your M16A4 Service Rifle of the Spirit? Do you have the discipline it takes to get “shots in the black” from 500 yards with an iron sight, or do you “miss the mark” (another phrase for sin!)?

There are many who are attracted to the honor that might be afforded a soldier in His Army but few I’ve found who actually live lives that bear the fruit of that kind of discipline and self-sacrifice. Prayerfully consider whether this is you, or whether you are even called to serve in His Army (there are 300+ million Americans but only 180,000 Marines! Not everyone in the Body need be in the Army, but the Army protects the rest of the Body!)

A letter to an apostate

[This was originally composed to a friend on Facebook after he pressed me about why I believe in something that cannot be proven scientifically.]

I haven’t given you a fair response in part because I wanted to avoid getting into a debate with you. I’m not interested in debates and winning arguments – there was a time when I was but no longer. I can, however, share with you my perspective on why I base my life around my relationship with our triune Creator (YHWH, Yeshua, and the Ruach Qodesh) and the scriptures concerning them that have been around for 4000 years (Old Testament) and 2000 years (New Testament). (Yeshua can be found in the Old Testament too!)

The simplicity of it is you will never have a reason to believe in the scriptures or trust God for anything until the spiritual realm comes into your life. Hopefully, when the spiritual realm comes to you, it is the Kingdom of Heaven that you are entering into or seeing for the first time, and not the deceptions of the Kingdom of Darkness (which can mimic the miracles of God as seen when the court magi reproduced many of Moses’ miracles, and supported in scripture by Paul when he writes Lucifer and his ilk can appear as angels of light). Also, I realize that you will probably think justifying scripture with other scripture is some kind of circular logic or logical fallacy, to which I have no counter argument for you other than “Live the scriptures and then see what you think.”

I have spent the past five years stuck in the wake of what happened to me in February of 2010. You were an intimate witness to that time and for me the experience was intensely spiritual. I don’t remember how involved you were (I was trying to involve everyone) nor do I know how you feel about that time or whether you even remember it. That was the first time in a long time at that point in my life that the Holy Spirit had come upon me. But I wasn’t fully receiving everything I could have received because I hadn’t been grounded in scriptures since about the age of 12 and had in fact been very angry at God for many things and basically ambivalent about whether He even existed. I envied people who could believe in him, because I was still living by some of the moral principles that are found in the Bible (for example, I was never able to break my vow to not have sex before marriage – in part because I never learned to trust women, especially not that intimately, due to my relationship with my mother and in part because God was helping me keep the vow by befuddling circumstances).

Had I been grounded in the scriptures or had a man of God in my life at the time of my 2010 experience I would probably still be in the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps was my life and identity and part of my downfall. I prided myself on being one of the Few and the Proud, and I wanted to be the next LtCol Donner (at the least! I wanted to be a General!) Just as Satan tempted Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world, Satan came to me and whispered in my ear as the Holy Spirit was whispering to me and promised me great glory and status if I could just explain my “system” to the Marine Corps. Being given glory for the Request Mast didn’t help with my ego either, as people were coming up to me and telling me I was their personal hero (I still have a letter from Stiles signed by multiple people at the company, where the envelope is labeled “To the Hero of ELMACO” and MGySgt Haen has confirmed as recently as Christmas that people still talk about me out in Okinawa).

The simplicity of it was a vision of divine governmental order, but there’s always a spiritual competition and for the last five years I have had to fight for my eternal life (and many people have had to fight on my behalf as well). I almost lost that battle twice recently – once by giving up on someone who has demonstrated greater love for me than any other person on this earth and once again in the psych ward 1/1/2015 to 1/24/2015.

When you are in the psych ward they pump you full of medications, up to 40 different ones. If you are spiritual you know that there is a spirit behind everything – including medication (this is not to say all medication is bad). If you are natural senses reasoning, you might say that every medication has side effects. This last hospitalization has been the most difficult one to stabilize from afterwards because of the intense medications they put me on while in the ward. My sleep schedule is still awful, there’s residual effects from stuff they put me on, and at one point I couldn’t even dress myself without assistance.

I don’t know how any of this will help you or convince you of anything. Most people believe what they see, and most people haven’t seen the Kingdom of Heaven because the church has failed massively in its designated role of advancing the Kingdom. They have truncated the Gospel to simply “Jesus died for your sins,” when Jesus dying for us was never a message that He himself preached. John the Baptist preached “repent” (change your thinking) “for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and after being baptized by John, Jesus taught the same thing. The entire message of the Bible concerns God trying to re-establish the Kingdom on Earth that he wanted to give to Adam who in turn gave it to Satan until Jesus redeemed it back to mankind.

I think it was Myles Monroe who said that Jesus dying at the cross is like the gate to a magnificent castle; the rest of the castle is the Kingdom of Heaven but everyone is stuck at the gate and don’t want to press in further.

I could write more but I don’t know if you’ll even read this much or even care because there’s nothing that tastes specifically “scientific” about what I wrote. I could write for ages about all the mystical experiences I’ve had (and I did that once, back in 2011) but I can’t GIVE you my mystical experience and my mystical experience has no right to be authoritative to you (but has every right to be authoritative to me – check out William James for more on this).

The philosophical fate of the West was sealed when we decided to take the perspective of Aristotle which is that there is no such thing as eternal forms and no use to talking about eternity (which Plato very much taught about – he also valued direct human interaction over writing everything down since much meaning is lost in writing and reading). Ever since then our God has been our natural senses and since you can’t see or perceive Spirit through the natural senses we’ve given up on trying to explain things that are outside the scope of science. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there, it just means that if science can’t explain them they must not be valuable.

Your friend in this great tribulation we call life,
John

Stewardship

To those who followed this blog on the promise of my grand whirlwind tour of the United States, I apologize. I haven’t been posting because I’m still in the process of recovery from my last stint in the psych ward which was probably the single most disruptive one in my life. They put me on some very powerful drugs in the ward that I’m still filtering out of my system, and I still haven’t yet entered into a stable daily routine that leaves me time to accomplish all of the things I need and want to accomplish on a daily basis.

That said, I have been growing closer and closer to our triune Creator, and learning to rely more and more upon Him. As I recently told my senior pastor, the scriptures are the realest thing I’ve ever experienced and they continue to become more and more real every day.

It took me approximately four long years of searching the scriptures, attempting to live the scriptures and just very recently 100% trusting the scriptures. I am at a place where I am constantly mindful of whether I am trying to see my will done or His; I repent of any worry and I ask for forgiveness when I start pre-planning what I need to say to people I’m meeting in life. I’m also being tested in my stewardship, not just of finances but also of time. Time is perhaps the more difficult thing to steward and yet it is the thing in which we are all equal. We do not all have access to the same amount of finances but Elohim HAS given us the same amount of time each day. How much of our time are we investing into our walk with Him, sharing Him with a lost and dying world, advancing His Kingdom and being the light in the darkness?

I am encouraged that each day it is becoming easier and easier to rely on Him and easier and easier to sublimate myself to His will, but I am a long way from having “arrived” and a much longer way from “perfection.” I feel that I am at least bearing fruit, particularly some of the fruits of the spirit. In this season I am concerned about my fruit of self-control, which is one of the least talked about fruits. It seems many people are not so keen on discipline and would rather want for grace, but I wonder why we can’t have the fullness of both? A healthy body is helpful in ministry, especially if Elohim is calling you to be up for 24 or more hours at a time. You may find yourself in that situation where Yeshua is asking you to stay up for one more hour and pray with him and yet you find yourself giving in to your flesh just as the 12 did. One of the promises I want to see come to pass is the promise of Yeshua that we will do “these and greater things” by following his teaching and relying upon the Ruach Qodesh.

Be encouraged knowing that, as the scriptures say, trials and tribulations build perseverance, perseverance builds character, and character builds hope.

Getting back into the swing of things

So, as I mentioned in my last brief post, I had been in a psych ward recently. Well, some of that followed me home in a bit of a naive decision to be a roommate with someone I had met in the ward. It caused some headaches and definitely stretched my faith and character.

My mentor and senior pastor tells me (and it is true) that I can still exercise too much selfishness. The last two years of my life have been pretty selfish – I was leeching off the VA and SSDI without much to show other than progress toward a 4 year degree. I am moving into a season where I can begin to exercise some degree of normalcy over how my day to day living is, the first time that’s been true really since having a job back toward the end of 2011. I am looking forward to building healthy habits such as having time to write, time to read, time to play music, time to work out, time to learn how to cook and shop for healthy food, and things of that nature.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to find a godly man who needs a roommate but isn’t as crazy as I sometimes am or at least have the potential to be (certified 100% by the VA!)

Thanks to everyone who followed this blog and I hope to get back to you.

Still alive

I tried to post this earlier but got hindered somehow.

Anyway, I was in the psych ward from 1/01/2015 to 1/24/2015. And that’s why I couldn’t post. Sorry about that. Anyway, you get the point by now I’m sure. So I will end this quickly.

Just want to be crystal clear this time! Ha ha ha ha.

Still alive

Sorry I’ve not been active. Haven’t had reliable tools out in the field but I’m getting there.

We’re all in this together.

Consider thanking the next veteran you see for their service not just in word but thought and deed too. You’ll both be blessed I’m sure.

Here’s an old Marching Cadence Capt. Marlborough disciplined into me, back in “Okitraz,” hell on Earth, and remember… Believe to receive that the New Year will indeed be a happy one. Grace and shalom, faithful few.

Begin forwarded message:

From: John Donner
Date: December 20, 2014 at 12:06:33 AM PST
To: dean
Subject: That Marine chant I was telling you about

So apparently this was synthesized by me at some point and I even claim to have written a few stanzas (though I could no longer tell you which). I put the stanzas I had originally attributed to my old Company Commander in [brackets].

You can keep your Army khakis, you can have your Navy blues
But I’ve another breed of man to introduce to you
He may not be pretty, he may not be clean
But he goes by the name of United States Marine

We were born on a depot, the land that God forgot
The sand is 18 inches deep, the sun is blazing hot
We hump a hundred miles a day, it keeps us lean and mean
The Germans called us Devil Dog, our real name is Marine

[And when it comes to fighting, we even up the score
We pray to God every single night that he will end all war
And if I die in battle, then leave me where I lay
Continue to fight, with all your might, we’ll meet another day]

We died on the beach at Guadacanal and we died in Vietnam
We died in the mud at Belleau Wood and we died in Lebanon
In all of our battles over a million have come and gone
To honor our fallen brothers we will keep marching on

And when I get to heaven, to Saint Peter I will tell
Another Marine reporting sir, I’ve served my time in hell
And when I look around me, I will be glad to see
One hundred thousand other Marines standing next to me

Singing Marine…..
Marine…..
Our real name is Marine
Singing Marine…..
Marine…..
Our real name is Marine

[And now that we’re in heaven, our final resting place
St. Peter’s calling cadence and you know we’re keeping pace
We thought our job was over, they said you’ve got one more
And issued us a set of wings and flew us off to war

And on his second coming, I think Jesus will be seen
With a hand full of angels and a fist full of Marines
And when you see us coming, you better jump aboard
My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord]

Singing Marine…..
Marine…..
Our real name is Marine
Singing Marine…..
Marine…..
Our real name is Marine

LCpl JWD USMC Medically Sevranced

Three Important Disciplines

I left my house at 1000 or so and didn’t return until 0209, so I didn’t really have much of a chance to write anything today. Just out, as I claim to be (and whether you find me true in this claim is certainly up for debate) “living the Kingdom of YHWH now.” So, as situations arose and other people needed things, I obeyed, and that chain of obedience didn’t end until just now.

That being said, if I had to write about any of the disciplines that kept me sharp out there in the field, I’d say that there were three important ones I practiced – forgiveness, reconciliation and unity.

Why, as a body, does it seem like we’re always focusing on what’s wrong with one another and seeking to correct that? If a person has a ten point argument, and 5 are good points and 5 are bad, imagine what happens when you only focus on the negative ones and say nothing about the positive ones. You’re immediately reinforcing the negative points and causing the person to become defensive about them and SEEK OUT REASONS TO CONTINUE TO BELIEVE IN THEM rather than something more edifying. If you disagree with something, IGNORE IT, and then affirm what you DO agree about. The points people receive positive feedback for are the ones they’re going to develop further, focus on, and continue to talk about (since people like them)!

All three of the disciplines are at work in the paragraph above. Anyway, I understand this is a shorter post but I feel I’ve said all that really needs to be said, and while I might be able to lay all of this out with exact scriptural addresses for you to find it in…why not apply the scriptural discipline of testing the spirits for yourself, and seeing whether what the spirit is telling you about what I am saying can be confirmed through the witness of the 4000 year testimony of the Old Testament and the 2000 year old testimony of the New Testament?

And then, how about we come into more agreement by encouraging each other, working together, building each other up, and connecting… truly becoming “The King’s Church International?”

A Christmas Miracle

This is another piece I hammered out with a keyboard. Forgive me. I’ve been so busy recently I haven’t had the free time to myself as much to sit down and write the old fashioned way. First thing’s first: I was convicted by Proverbs 23:23 and Matthew 10:8 and realized I should not at all be charging a dime to people for them to access what I have written. If however THEY feel for whatever reason that they want to contribute to my life, I am leaving the patreon up (the same way you might see a paypal link on a twitch stream or something). At some near-future date I may also convert this wordpress domain into a “legitimate” one.

Anyway. I have had a tremendous battle going on for the greater part of five years concerning being diagnosed “Bipolar Type I” according to the wisdom and ways of man (and thus being treated in that same wisdom) and contending for the truth of the spiritual realities behind that diagnosis. I won’t go super into depth about it because it’s a topic a lot of people are very passionate about, but I will say that I was healed in the same way Yeshua would go about healing anyone.

I’ve been off my meds for about 7 months. I’ve been sort of “white” lying about it, to the VA and to some other people, just to avoid any number of things I had fears and worries about – ending up in the ward again, having my benefits cut off, all of those things. I realized I couldn’t go out and do the sorts of things I wanted to do nor accurately proclaim to the world that I am living in the Kingdom of YHWH and that the truth had set me free unless I rectified this situation.

The first thing to do was to honor the contractual agreement that I had with the VA, which I signed, which required me to “take medications as proscribed by my psychiatrist.” And so to honor that I contacted my assigned nurse and left a voice mail explaining that I was having symptoms in the natural that might lead a doctor who understands the theory of Bipolar Type I to be concerned that a “manic episode” was incoming. I said if I didn’t hear back from her, I’d check myself into the ER at the VA hospital after a church service last night (12/24).

She called me back a few hours later and we verbally re-negotiated my contract (with the understanding it was never legally binding in the first place) such that my treatment plan now includes no clause about needing to be on medications. Moreover, the VA understands my position that I do not think I am “disabled” nor that I should be the recipient of benefits afforded “disabled” persons, but has decided to continue to bless me with them for the time being.

There may come a day when I am found “0% disabled” and my benefits are cut off, and I have full faith in the father to provide for me no matter where I am or what I am doing (Proverbs 3), so I do not fear that day. In a way, I kind of look forward to it.

What was your Christmas Miracle this year?

Called to Duty: Modern Spiritual Warfare

I’m breaking my own rules here a little bit and composing this on a keyboard instead with a pen and paper, but hang in there.

Warfare in the natural has changed drastically since Paul wrote about the “Armor of God/Elohim” in Ephesians. While the principles of spiritual warfare haven’t necessarily changed (spirit = eternal), re-explaining some of the metaphors and analogies that Paul uses with a “modern” update may be helpful in understanding why the supposedly “called out ones” are so woefully inept (by which I mean: show me evidence where we are walking as conquerors, in unity, against the Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdoms of this world…not just minor personal victories but world shattering, earth changing corporate victory!) in the present “military” campaigns of the Kingdom.

As many of you know, I was trained as a Marine calibrator. While I never saw combat, nor even deployed into a combat zone (or received even a fraction of the same kind of discipline in combat arts that a bona-fide combat arms Marine would’ve received), Marines are still instilled with the basics. This is so that should they ever be called into a combat situation, those basics can readily be expounded upon in the work-up training and then capitalized during the deployment.

No matter how strong, fast, intelligent or prepared you are, when you arrive at boot camp you literally know nothing. It is not inaccurate to say that you don’t even know how to put on your own pants. Over the course of 3 months you go from not even being able to dress yourself to being able to complete close order drill in a unit of 50-80 Marines, recite your general orders by memory, understand and know how to wear and maintain all of your uniforms (garrison, dress, and service), and have been forced into a situation where other discipline is a fact of life (no soda, restricted diet, set amount of sleep and exercise per day, and other things). Additionally, you practically live and sleep with your rifle. Every Marine is a rifleman is the creed of the Marine Corps; the infantry is its lifeblood and its entire mission. One of the most important weeks in boot camp is when you spend an entire week on the rifle range – as I recall it, there were much fewer instances of Drill Instructors playing head games and there was much less emphasis on physical exercise. This is the precious week in which you commit 100% of your energy into mastering your most basic tool as a Marine, and marksman accuracy is a point of pride (one of many points of pride) in the Marine Corps. You WANT to be a Rifle Expert (and I was, graduating boot camp!) Again, this relates back to accuracy.

So let’s stop here for a second. I’m not going to flesh out all of the analogies and metaphors that Paul used, but let’s talk about the “sword of the spirit.” If the “sword of the spirit’ is now an “M16A4 Service Rifle of the Spirit,” how accurate are you with it? Are you a certified Marksman? If you cannot pass rifle qualification in boot camp, you cannot graduate and you cannot become a Marine – period. You need to get at least a certain amount of your shots “in the black,” as we say. Ideally, in the context of being a “rifleman” for the Kingdom, don’t you want to hit 100% of your shots?

Your training as a Marine doesn’t stop there. If you are going into a combat discipline you go to the School of Infantry and your entire career then becomes mastery of the art of warfare. You could even end up in specialized schools for special missions – like Force Recon, Scout Sniper, or what was once MARSOC but is now called the Raiders, I believe. Point being, as a combat arms Marine, your training never ends. (This is actually true no matter what your job is, in fact.)

But even as a Marine who is not in a combat arms job, you still go through one more month of additional combat training called “Marine Combat Training.” Here is where you really learn your own limits, as your instructors push you into forced 10-20 mile hikes with 2 hours of sleep and no food in your system. You do land navigation. You learn some of the heavier, crew served weapons. You learn how to do a combat patrol and sortie. Things like that.

Marines are also trained to use their hands as weapons. (I don’t think there is an equivalent piece of armor in Paul’s analogy.) Every Marine is qualified as a “tan belt” in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and every Marine is encouraged to pursue advanced belts as part of their career development – with certain “minimum belts” being expected of Marines of certain ranks and jobs.

Understanding all of this, here is the average condition of those who are supposedly in the army of the Kingdom today: they’re still in the receiving company of boot camp, going through all of the processing and immunizations and literally don’t even know what time it is and they are scared out of their wits. They also don’t even know how to put their own pants on.

Why are we surprised, then, that the Kingdom is not advancing? And why has this happened? Because the tradition of discipleship (discipline!) has been lost and the saints are not equipping each other.