Wonder Woman Wednesday

This week’s Wonder Woman Wednesday is mother of four, wife to your’s truly, and the best educator to ever chalk up a black board – Jill Banks!

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Am I little biased? No, I’m a lot biased!! But that doesn’t make what I write any less true. I’m going to get in trouble for this blog post but I’m taking my chances. Almost every week Jill chooses someone special for Wonder Woman Wednesday on her blog so now it’s her turn!

Jill has been a constant source of joy in my life since the summer of 1995. Seriously, she even makes Monday’s worth waking up for. I love this woman with ever fiber of my being. People use the term soulmates to describe a lot of couples but look it up. In Webster’s you’ll see that Soulmates is defined as Jason and Jill Banks. She’s my first and last true love.

She’s accomplished so much in her life but never brags about it. Jill’s humbleness is pretty amazing. And she’s the hardest worker I know. Somehow she’s earned two Master’s Degrees and became Nationally Board Certified while raising babies AND being a Proverbs 31 wife. Every week she writes her blog that ministers to so many people and still manages everything else. She’s always been great at multitasking too. I remember her first job so well. She’d get up at 5 am and off she’d go. That didn’t change when she had Max (our oldest) either. Jill was a nursing mother. Which in this day and age is a huge feat in and of itself. She’d head out the door before dawn, hook her breast pump up to the cigarette lighter plug, and pump on her way to school. You really can’t make this stuff up. Fifteen years later and she hasn’t lost her passion for teaching or making her student’s lives better. There’s nowhere we can go where you don’t hear, “Hey Mrs. Banks!” And she remembers all of her students.

Her patiences is beyond mind numbing to me. She’s so patient and gentle with our kids. I’m ready to just give up and run head long into a brick wall and there’s Jill… Calm. Cool. Collected. If I can be half as good a dad as she is a mother, there’s a good chance our kids will grow up to be superheroes. And what about the kids in our youth group? She loves those kids unconditionally and thinks of them as her own. Truthfully, don’t ever hurt any of those kids because she will hurt you. (She’s and advanced green belt in Chun Kuk Do. She only quit because Mr. Clark was uncomfortable with her being so far along in her pregnancy with Reagan and still doing Karate!)

She runs our house so well. I’m not even kidding. There’s a chalkboard in the kitchen she fills out every week with our schedules. We’ve vowed to not let our children get so involved with everything that there’s no time for family. And Jill rocks it. Monday through Sunday is carefully planned and executed with precision. Did I mention she runs our small business? I get a lot of credit for the success of our business but she schedules and keeps track of everything. I’d be a mess without her!

Jill we all see how amazing you are. You’re beautiful inside and out and you’re a wonderful example for our children and our community! I’m not a great enough wordsmith describe how much I love you, how much you are loved by everyone in your life, and how amazing you are.

You are my Wonder Woman.

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Fathering Is Hard… Happy Belated Dad’s Day.

My Four Babies

We have four kids… Yes, FOUR KIDS. What? Nobody has four kids in the 21st century! Jill and I have been asked some humdinger questions through the years. “Jill’s pregnant again? You know how that happens right?” What an odd question to ask an adult. The funny thing is the same people asking this question were the same people in our reception line at our wedding, asking when and how many kids we were going to have. “Wow! Four babies, you must really love kids.” Well, I guess. But I really love Jill. Hence the answer to the first question! Seriously, the uncomfortableness knows no bounds…

Being a father is hard. Besides being a husband it’s the most challenging job I’ve ever had. I’ve failed, I’ve triumphed, and I’ve been ashamed. I don’t have a degree in fatherhood. I wish there was such a thing because I’d major in it. Actually I’d double major in parenting and husbanding. Then after graduating I’d go back and teach so I could share all the crappy mistakes I’ve made with all those poor impressionable students. I didn’t have what you would call a traditional upbringing. From the 3rd grade until the 8th I was raised by both of my grandparents. Papaw, my father figure, died when I was 12 and my Mamaw took over the reigns for the remainder of my formative years. She couldn’t teach me to fight but I know how to make biscuits and gravy. You can weigh those lessons out for yourself. My childhood wasn’t easy but I learned a lot of lessons that I use to this day. My Papaw was a tradesman and worked up until a year before his death. It was only when he was too sick that he stopped working. I saw what hard work was like the times he took me to his job sites. I learned how to provide for my family from his work ethic.

I have A LOT of great Mamaw and Papaw stories. I remember being picked on in the hood when I was little and got beat up pretty bad. When Papaw found out it was on! One time he put a baseball bat (the one he carried around in his backseat for any poor schmuck that may have crossed him. I have said bat to this day) in my hand and told me to take care of the bully. The other time he jerked me up and put me in his car. When he came out of our house I noticed his pistol was stuck in his belt and off we went. It wasn’t a pleasant conversation with that bully’s dad. My Papaw was a recovered alcoholic who watched, and read, gritty westerns his entire life. Point being, he’d hit you with a ball bat, his wild stallion of a Cadillac, or shoot you. Either way, you were going to leave his boy alone. Not exactly what Jesus would do…

Jill and I have made mistakes. We’ve been insulted, talked about, and criticized. My boys have been called brats and troublemakers. Once I was told I wasn’t fit for leadership in the church because of their behavior. We’ve heard it from church family, strangers, friends, and family. Some of it was true and some was unfounded. And it hurt. Things people say usually come back around to you. People who are our friends. Close friends. It used to bother me, but not anymore. I really couldn’t give two flips what people’s opinions are of me. (Although, you better have a good opinion of Jill. Otherwise I’ll punch you in the throat. Just kidding… but not really.) I’ve matured and my boys are growing into men of God. My girls are growing into Proverbs 31 young women. Through those hard times I’d wonder why these people weren’t offering up prayers or practical advice to help to us. But that’s people. Put your trust in people and you’ll always be let down.

We have dreams for our children. We pray for them everyday. Jill has always prayed for their future spouses. We want them to be happy but being happy isn’t our goal. Our goal is to point them to Jesus Christ and when they’re growing in Him then joy and fulfillment will come. I’m working everyday for my kids to always see Christ in me. I want to expose them to the power and working of the Holy Spirit so eventually they’ll become what they’re exposed to. I’m raising future leaders. Ladies whose first love is Jesus Christ in which will be the standard of their future boyfriend, when they begin dating at 30 years old. And gentlemen who put the welfare of others before their own, treat women with the respect they deserve, and love their future wives like Christ loves the church.

Jill sent me a photo from a trip to Kroger with Reagan. She really can’t do anything with out one or all of the kids tagging along… That’s another story. It began to storm while they were in the store and without hesitation Reagan ran from inside the store to the car to get an umbrella so mommy wouldn’t have to walk to the car and load up the groceries in the rain. Sometimes it’s the little things that encourage you the most.

Reagan at Kroger

 

Jesus The Socialist.

Bernie

This is not an endorsement of any candidate running for President. I would never stoop so low as to support any of the candidates running for either party’s nomination. If you are one of millions supporting a candidate, that is between you and your conscience. With that being said, the success of self described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders has brought Socialism to the forefront of debate and has legions of Americans, Christian and others, arguing that Jesus was a Socialist. It is a mantra chanted with every modern election but this time around it seems to be louder and much more prevalent. I have heard it said, among other things, Jesus was a Socialist hippy living in a commune with His disciples. Jesus was a lot of things but He was not a Socialist. Nor was he a Capitalist, Communist, Fascist, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Conservative, Liberal, or an advocate of any other system of worldly government or earthly kingdom. He was the author and the finisher of our faith and the architect of a heavenly kingdom.

For the sake of clarity let us define what true Socialism is. Socialism is the organization of a society in which business and production are owned by the government. Goods, and a person’s wealth, are distributed by the government and there is no private ownership of property. Basically the government forcibly takes income from one person, keeps a portion of it, and distributes it as they see fit. This type of system in more modern times has usually been spurred by violent revolution, and in very few cases by majority vote.

Jesus did not come to earth to spur political change or start a revolution. This is more than evident for the entirety of the New Testament. The common misconception for the Israelites at the time of Jesus was He came to lead a violent rebellion or revolution against the Roman Empire for the occupation of Israel. And when they found out this was not His mission He was quickly rejected by many. When Jesus was being arrested Matthew 26:55-56 (NIV) says this:

In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Does an unarmed teacher whose small band of disciples deserted Him sound like a political revolution? Of course not. He was not promoting or condoning an earthly political system. To twist scripture and who Jesus was/is into advocating a political structure or school of thought is a perversion of His message and a major misunderstanding of the Gospel. It is also thinking on the level of the religious and political folk who were so brazenly opposed to Jesus in the accounts of the New Testament. After all, it was religion with the help of government that killed Jesus. Jesus refused to build and bow to an earthly kingdom and so should we. One example is Matthew 4:8 -10 (KJV):

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Some argue our government should be structured by Jesus’s example of communal living and charity i.e. feeding the poor, caring for the sick, etc. In the book of Luke (KJV) Jesus said, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” Jesus did not say or imply that the government, or your neighbor, should take your belongings, keep a portion of it, and distribute it to anyone. Nor did He say the taking of your property or wealth was acceptable by majority vote. To put the responsibility of feeding and clothing the poor on government’s shoulders, is not what Jesus taught. He taught personal individual responsibility, sacrifice, and giving. It is far too easy to be generous with someone else’s wealth.  And if you are an advocate of government or anyone else taking someone else’s livelihood, for any reason, you are supporting theft and making the earner a slave to the state. If you forcibly take income from one person to give to another it is immoral. It is absolutely in ere when a person advocates the government do what God has called the individual to do. The scripture calls for individuals and the church to care for the poor.

It is human nature to project who and what you believe onto your god, believing he or she is just like you. And that god is on your side in every conflict. After all, every nation that has ever been in war has believed God, a god, or gods were on there side. Stop projecting who Jesus is based on your own bias or party platform. Who Jesus is is clearly written throughtout the whole of scripture.

Jesus the Socialist? Not hardly.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 (NIV)

Would Jesus Drop An Atomic Bomb?

The old cliche is true; history really does repeat itself. And so, the wars roll on. With each generation humanity travels much of the same old road. The mistakes and atrocities of each generation seem to disappear in the annals of time with subsequent generations failing to learn or choosing to ignore, for whatever reason, the mistakes of their fathers. This Saturday, August 9, is the anniversary for the lesser discussed, and often forgotten, bombing on the city of Nagasaki, Japan. Nagasaki was the second city in two equally barbaric and aggressive atomic bombings on defenseless civilian populations that took the war torn Japanese people to the brink of extinction and further crippled their fascist government.

The original target was the city of Kokura, not Nagasaki. Kokura, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki had been mostly spared from the US bombing raids that burned nearly sixty other Japanese cities to the ground. The reason for mostly excluding these cities from conventional bombings was to see the affects on undamaged buildings with living inhabitants when an atomic bomb, the world’s first WMD, was exploded. In effect, the atomic bombings in Japan were nothing short of a nuclear science experiment.

On the morning of August 9, 1945 a bomber called Bockscar, with an all Christian crew, took off from Tinian Island and had been blessed by the prayers of several Christian chaplains. The crew was instructed to drop the bomb through visually siting the city but upon arrival to Kokura the cloud cover was so dense that the crew headed for its secondary target, Nagasaki. Most historians estimate the death toll in Nagasaki at 50,000. Children playing in the streets and innocent men and women were instantly vaporized while others that survived the initial blast lived to develop excruciating diseases and cancers. Tens of thousands suffered from radiation poisoning and chromosomal defects. One eyewitness account from a lady who survived the attack recalled a horrifying experience as two figures, what she thought were lizards, crawled on the hillside where she found shelter. It turns out they were two survivors who had their skin flash burned from their bodies. The hell dropped from the sky that morning is unimaginable, even in nightmares.

Nagasaki had the largest concentration of Christians along with the largest cathedral in the entire Orient. The Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier had established a mission church there in 1549 and the Christian community flourished for several generations. Unfortunately, around sixty years after Xavier founded the mission the Japanese government began persecution of the burgeoning community. They were tortured, murdered, and even crucified. The faith was all but extinguished. But was it?

In the 1850s, unbeknownst to the government, it was realized there were thousands of Christians in Nagasaki covertly practicing their faith. This rekindled another round of persecution, but due to international pressure the abuse stopped and the church emerged triumphant, even building a massive church building named St. Mary’s Cathedral. The Christians onboard Bockscar, when making visual conformation on the city, recognized their target by identifying the cathedral.

At 11:02 in the morning, the entire Nagasaki Christian community was annihilated by a Christian crew on behest of a Christian nation. The Japanese tried for 200 years to stamp out Christianity in their pagan nation; and what they could not do, American Christians did in less than a minute.

So I ask you, would Jesus Christ drop an atomic bomb?

Jesus Christ The God of War?

The American Christian church has a war fever. It is a cheerleader for every undeclared, illegal, immoral, preemptive, and unjust war the US government or its allies involves itself in. This seems to be one issue that crosses denominational boundaries and unites the modern church. Instead of praying for peace, church leaders and lay-persons are unilaterally praying for a swift and deadly defeat for every “foe” at the end of the American saber at any cost. The church collective is even far more supportive of sending troops to the Middle-East than they are missionaries. There are Christian populations in the Middle-East that have been free to worship since Christ walked the earth that are now being eradicated, prosecuted, tortured, and silenced as a direct result of U.S. interventionist foreign policy, with the full support of the American church.

The church will often justify every posture of US foreign policy by referencing Old Testament scripture. But the American military is not God’s Army and the Commander and Chief, regardless of party affiliation, is NOT God’s appointed Priest. An anonymous Baptist preacher from the 1800’s said it this way: “It should be remembered, that in no case, even under the Old Testament, was war appointed to decide doubtful questions, or to settle quarrels, but to inflict national punishment. They were intended, as are pestilence and famine, to chastise nations guilty of provoking God. Such is never the pretext of modern war; and if it were, it would require divine authority, which, as has just been said, would induce even members of the Peace Society to fight.”

The same Christians singing “Build Your Kingdom Here” are the most boisterous protagonists for every conflict. We are ambassadors for Christ on earth called to invade the world, not with tanks and bullets, but with the glorious Gospel that Jesus Christ is Lord. In His kingdom there is no war or death, so we should not advocate it here. Jesus said to let His Father’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. We live in the age of grace not under the old law. Give me one, just one example in the New Testament of an instance Jesus Christ advocated, encourages, or promotes war. The Baptist minister further wrote: War “contradicts the genius and intention of Christianity,” “sets at nought the example of Jesus,” and “is inconsistent not only with the general structure and nature of Christianity and the example of Jesus, but it violates all the express precepts of the New Testament.”

The message of peace and the compassion for those lost should not be a difficult or confusing truth to embrace but the church is far more willing to believe American media than they are the timeless truths of God’s Word. So let the horror of war burn in your soul the next time the media mentions “collateral damage” which is simply newsspeak for innocent men, women, children, and YOUR brothers and sisters in Christ being bombed, maimed, and murdered.

In Romans 14:17-19 the Living Word says: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” If we are Christians and Christian means to be Christ-like then we should emulate Christ the peacemaker and stop cheerleading and electing the politicians and governments who send other people’s children to kill and be killed in war. We should pray for governments to seek peaceful ends not violent recourse on behest of lobbyists with the blind support of the church.

My prayer is that my brothers and sisters in Christ come to a true revelation of the Gospel of our Lord and they come to know Jesus Christ for who he is;
The Prince of Peace not The God of War.