It Will Never Happen to Us

The World Health Organization told us a long time ago that a major health pandemic was overdue. But few of us expected it to happen. Not right now, anyway. It might happen in ten years, or fifty years, but not this year. And certainly not to North America.

We should have known better. All of us learned about the Bubonic Plague and the Spanish Influenza pandemic in our history classes when we went to school. Both caused millions of deaths at a time when the world’s population was a lot lower and much less mobile than it is now.

But those are just statistics from history textbooks. Right?

But Then it Did Happen

My wife and I were over 2,000 miles from home helping care for her parents when the bubble burst. We knew China had some cases of COVID-19 a month of so before we left. We learned that our country had a case a week before we left home. The first death took place during the middle of our stay. A few days later we attended a program put on by the students where our daughter taught. I don’t think we seriously considered the possibility of that being dangerous.

But over that weekend, the sky fell, or so it seemed. We listened to announcement after announcement, each with progressively worse news. For a while we wondered if we’d even be able to fly home again.

We did get home. Our plane was only half full. Half of the passengers seemed to be hiding sniffles or coughs. Some of the passengers were university students trying to get home before events became even worse. It was a serious flight. I overheard little conversation and no laughter and joking or carrying on.

I think all of us were in a state of shock.

What Now?

We are self-quarantining for the recommended two weeks. By the end of the month we should know if we have the dreaded COVID-19 or whether we managed to navigate three airports and two flights safely. We have family to bring us groceries for now, and I already work from home.

But this is only the beginning for all of us. Some people still aren’t taking this seriously. However, most people are realizing that this is serious business. The jokes and the light-hearted remarks are fading away on social media.

Did God Do This to Us?

I’ve already gotten some emails and comments from people looking to start a campaign against God. Is this God’s fault? Really?

No. We are part of a broken world because of sin. We brought this on ourselves, since we are the sinners. We deserve much worse than this! Someone, somewhere, dreamed up the idea that God owes us an enjoyable time here on earth. He owes us a guaranteed income and a middle-class lifestyle. A lot of people, including a lot who should know better, have picked up on this idea. Unfortunately, the last several weeks have pricked our collective, complacent balloons and given us a good dose of reality.

What About the Future?

I don’t know the answer to this. I suspect that things will get worse before they get better. Perhaps even much worse. I listened to an online seminar hosted by six experts who talked about these things. All were hesitant to put a definite date on the end of it. One said six weeks. Another thought it could go on for twelve weeks. Apparently, some government contingency plans extend the possibility to eighteen months.

In other words, we really don’t know. China has apparently peaked at close to 12 weeks, but the aftermath could still continue for months.

I’ve faced the fact (or tried to, at least), that I might not be around to enjoy the return to “normal” life. For various reasons such as age, underlying health factors, and immunosuppressant medication, I am in a high risk brackets. I would guess that the chances are pretty high that I’ve been exposed. If so, I might not survive this. In the meantime my wife and I are isolated together

Death isn’t the worst thing that can happen, however, if you’re ready for it. But a lot of people aren’t ready. You probably know if you are or not. If not, the nice thing about this scenario is that you have lots of time to think about it and get ready. Take a close look at your life and your future.

One of my favorite Bible passages is found in Matthew 11:27 – 30. It’s an invitation. It promises rest. Even in times like this, or worse, you can have rest.

Are you Anxious? Concerned? Worried?

Here is your answer. Straight from Jesus Christ…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
(Mat 11:28-30 NKJV)

Pardon Me

Your Thoughts are Showing…

Let the words of my mouth,
and the meditations of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight oh Lord,
my strength and my redeemer

Did You Know?

<> Your thoughts guide your values

<> Your values guide your decisions

<> Your decisions guide your destiny

But what guides your thinking?

  • The novels you read?
  • The teachers you listen to?
  • The denomination you are part of?
  • The music you listen to?
  • The friends you hang out with?

All of these points will influence your thoughts. But the only way to really change your thinking is found in 2 Cor 5:17. Ask God to make you new! He’ll do that if you’re serious.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Quote for Today

“The man who is most aggressive in teaching tolerance is the most intolerant of all: he wants a world full of people too timid and ashamed to really disagree with anything.”
― Criss Jami, Killosophy

In spite of what many people seem to think, you can disagree with someone, and even say so, without hating that person. Often accusations of hate speech or hatred are simply ways of putting your opposition on a guilt trip so that you can get your own way, or force everyone to say they agree with you.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope

Ted Dekker

Rachelle Dekker

The author of this book is Ted Dekker. It is co-authored by his daughter Rachelle, who apparently thinks a lot like Ted does.

I’ve read a number of Ted Dekker’s books. To understand them, you must realize that not all will be as it appears at first glance. Ted is a theologian by training, and he buries theological propositions in his books. They are often buried deeply and unless you know where he might be going it will take you most of the book to figure it out. He has some good ideas, though I think he over reacts to his past church or home experience.

Ted has a habit of personifying spiritual characteristics as physical ones. For instance in his Books of History series, sinners show their sinful nature by a skin disease. People drown in a red lake to be converted and healed of their skin disease. It seems weird at first, but you get used to it once you understand it.

In this case the people are more realistic, to a point anyway. It is the story of a small, radical congregation. A prophetess who also happens to be their minister’s wife, learns that the final appocalypse of judgment against evil will come in three years. They are warned to move into a remote valley where they will escape in order to repopulate the earth. But this will only happen if they remain pure. Absolutely pure. No sin. No sinful thoughts. No appearance of sin even. The prophetess and her husband are quite paranoid and the list of things that threaten purity get very long and difficult to maintain.

They are very good people, and very sincere. But they are stuck in their little valley for over ten years, and the time starts to get long, and the pressures rise. The punishments get worse as time goes on because they HAVE to maintain their purity or they will all be eternally lost.

Finally the pressure gets so great that the prophetess needs to order a whipping. And then an execution. And then another. Could God’s people stoop that low? Could you? Even if it seemed that your soul and the souls of your family and friends would be lost if you didn’t?

You will be surprised at some of the things in this book. What, or who, are the Fury that threaten the entire population of earth? You’ll be shocked at what they might teach you. Who controls the Fury? (That’s not a typo–Fury is a plural form of Fury, even as moose is the plural form of moose).

You will also come away with some healthy qualms about ever joining a cult which might save your life someday.

But that’s enough for now. Read the book and tell me what you think!


Faith in your Feelings

Do you have Faith in your Feelings?

In 1952, Norman Vincent Peale wrote a book entitled, The Power of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide to Mastering the Problems of Everyday Living. It’s at least forty-five years since I bought it and I have no idea what I did with it. But the book promoted positive thinking as the antidote for about everything between being depressed and being over-weight.

The book was popular at the time, but I haven’t heard anything about it for years. It is true that attitude is a powerful motivator and there is nothing wrong with being a positive person. But I’ve noticed during my lifetime that this idea has filtered strongly into Christian teaching and theology. Only we call it “assurance of salvation.”

In some circles a lack of assurance is one of the worst sins you can struggle with. It seems that God will forgive about anything except that. I suspect that lots of Christians try to whip themselves into enough of a spiritual frenzy often enough that they can assure themselves that they are okay. But does this actually open any doors into heaven?

I’ve often wondered about that. Positive thinking doesn’t change facts. I was unacquainted with grits until I was an adult. One day we visited a conference and stayed with a young couple for several nights. The man of the house regaled me with stories about the wonderful breakfasts his wife made, and I looked forward to it all night long. I hopped out of bed licking my lips.

To understand this story, you need to know several things about me. One is that I like good food. Another is that I have never, even as a baby, liked to eat baby food or anything of that texture. Cream of wheat, wheat-lets, and even oatmeal porridge were NOT something I enjoyed. So you might understand why my heart dropped when I got to the table that morning.

Grits, I discovered, are what we called cornmeal mush when I was growing up. I could keep it down if I had to, but it was hard for me to stomach. I have only been served grits twice in my adult life, but I remember both times very vividly. And all the positive thinking I could produce, and all the anticipation I had, made no difference.

Similarly, I doubt that God will be impressed with the sinner who has drummed up a lot of good feeling in his life. Jesus talked about people who claimed they had healed the sick and cast out demons in His name. But He brushed them aside. He called them workers of iniquity. I imagine those people had wonderful testimonies about assurance. They probably looked down on the poor Christians who, like the tax collector, would not even raise their eyes to heaven but struck themselves on the chest saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ (see Luke 18:13 CSB)

I believe that a Christian can find peace in Christ. He doesn’t need to wake up in fear in the middle of the night. But our faith needs to be placed in Christ, not in our feelings.

Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 14:6

Jesus, my Lord and Master

Facing a New Year


Many things about tomorrow,
I don’t seem to understand,
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

The beginning of a new year tends to make you stop and evaluate where you have been and where you are going. Self-evaluation is a good exercise. It can also be a troublesome or discouraging one.

For instance, am I walking closer to God than I did a year ago? Am I more victorious over temptation than I was a year ago? Am I putting my heart into the Kingdom of God like I did a year ago? Is my love for my fellowman growing or diminishing?  

I suspect that most of us feel we fell short in these areas last year. But what are we going to do about it? Write up a list of resolutions which will fall by the wayside during the next month or so? I’ve been there and done that. I know one or two people with enough self-discipline and determination to make a change in their lives if they decide to. But that is not true for most of us, and we may as well admit it. I will not become a better person this year than I was last year without some help.

That help may come from my brothers and sisters. I am not discrediting that because we all need that kind of help. But I’m troubled with our increased dependence on accountability groups and counselling centers. In the long run, human helps will only help us if we have allowed God’s grace to operate in our lives. Ephesians 2:4-10 is a wonderful passage that should be precious to every Christian. But unfortunately, so many people stop reading at the end of verse 9. According to verse 10, grace turns us into a new creation. We become God’s workmanship not our own.

This doesn’t happen overnight. All of us need to continue to grow. But that growth will only come as we allow God’s grace to work in us. Our victory and our spiritual development are intrinsically linked to the closeness of our relationship with God. This coming year will be one long progression of tomorrows. At this point we have no idea what those tomorrows hold for us. But if we walk with God today, we can leave tomorrow in His hands. At the end of 2020, we can look back and say, “I have walked with God this year.”

He holds tomorrow in His control. He holds this year in His hands. I can face this year with the power of His grace, because I know He holds my hand. If I fall, He will help me up. If I lose my way, He will guide me back to the right path. If I face grief, He will comfort me. If I find new victories, He will rejoice with me.

He holds tomorrow because He holds my hand today.

—Lester Bauman

What is Worship?

Lord, I have shut the door,
Speak now the word
Which in the din and throng
Could not be heard;
Hushed now my inner heart,
Whisper Thy will,
While I have come apart,
While all is still.

Worship can spring from many things. For instance, watching the beauty of a sunset or holding a new baby might trigger worship. Or a Bible verse we read or a song we sing might spark it. But these things just plant the seed for worship. Worship can grow from these things, but they are not worship themselves.

God will respond to worship. When King Solomon prayed, fire fell from heaven. When Elijah worshipped God spoke in a still small voice. When David worshipped, he wrote psalms expressing the feelings in his heart. When Jesus worshipped—spending whole nights in prayer—He was strengthened for His work.

I get the feeling that too many Christians seldom worship. They may go to church and call it a worship service, but how many people really worship in church? I suppose worship can be many different things to different people. Personality can influence our concept of worship and so can our background or culture. But genuine worship is more than a formula. It doesn’t come and go in deference to our schedule.

But what is worship? It is one of those indefinable things; almost impossible to explain. But when you worship you know it. Worship will always change you and draw you closer to God. About the best parallel I can think of is a nursing baby. A hungry baby lives to nurse, and lives because they nurse. Nursing is more than a physical experience for a baby, it is a time of spiritual union with its mother. It is important for the mother to realize this and to take time for her little one, because the child’s future depends on that bonding.

I think we could describe worship as a time of spiritual bonding between us and God. It moves both our heart and God’s heart. Unlike some human mothers, God will always take time for our worship. He never rushes through it, and He gives us his complete attention. I believe that the Christian who never worships will eventually die spiritually.

To be genuine, worship needs to include emotion, but not all emotions are genuine worship. For instance, I can feel the emotion of a Hillsong musical piece, but I don’t feel as if I’d worshipped after listening to it. I am more sympathetic with the Quaker concept of worship being quietness; a time of communion with God—a time when God speaks to you, and you listen and a time when you speak to God and He listens, though that is often secondary.

Worship is a merging of natures—our nature becoming more blended with God’s nature—and we come away from it spiritually renewed by our contact with God’s presence.


The Rise of Christianity

Book Review

Author: Rodney Stark

Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco

Printed: 1997

Format: Paper back, 246 pages

Abstract: A history of the early church writen from a socialogical perspective.

I ran across this book during my research for the current project I’m working on, and it is quite intriquing. The author was Professor of Sociology and Comparative Religion at the University of Washington when he wrote this book toward the end of the 20th century.

Stark was especially interested in explaining the growth and development of Christianity in the first three centuries after Christ. He notes that the Roman Empire didn’t consider Christianity a political threat or it would have wiped it out very quickly in its earlier stages. He tosses around various growth rates. That was what drew me to the book in the first place–I wanted an accurate estimate of the size of the Christian population at the end of the third century.

If you are like me, you have been told that Christianity was mostly a religion appealing to the poor and the slaves. Stark makes a convincing argument that this wasn’t really the case. He feels that Christianity had a lot of friends in high places and that the cult-like status of Christianity would have appealed to part of the upper class of the Roman population.

I was also quite interested in his discussion of the animal-like behavior of the general population that led them to be interested in killing as a spectator sport. Christians were thrown to the lions or slaughtered by gladiators to the cheers of a blood-drunk crowd. He also notes that had all of those Christians recanted and been cleared, the spectacle would have continued. The authorities would simply have found other people to be slaughtered. This was part of the essence of being Roman. But he goes on to note how the pressure of Christianity forced this to change gradually.

In our world today, Christianity is often degraded. I enjoyed reading a positive book by a scholar who gives good reasons for not feeling that way about my faith.

This book is well worth reading, if you enjoy reading an accademic level treatise.

One final note: I got this book through an interlibrary loan but there was only one library in Alberta that seemed to have it. But it is available at Amazon and on special at Christian Book Distributors during this Black Friday season.