Social media and memes. They seem to be made for each other. If you’re looking for laughs, they often give great comic relief, particularly in this difficult time we are facing.
But as I’ve seen many of the memes that regularly get posted and shared, I felt compelled to share a few thoughts. This is the main one:
🔊“Never get your theology from memes.”
Typically memes are short, to the point statements that, on the surface, may seem to encapsulate a current issue, and they claim to shed some grander truth about the issue at hand.
There’s an old saying though that stated “inquiring minds want to know…” But there’s a deeper truth, that Jesus reminded us of, and that we should consider particularly when memes are involved:
💡“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” John 7:24
With this in mind, there is a meme that is making its way around social media this week. Yesterday a pastor in Florida was arrested because he chose to assemble his congregation, in spite of precautionary health advisories by the local governing authorities. Without arguing the merits of the case that he will be mounting with the help of Liberty Counsel, I’d like to share some thoughts from the Bible, versus the Constitution.
The meme here would seem to correlate the “assembling” that occurs at Walmart, where people are buying food and supplies, with the “assembling” at church. I would suggest though that conflating these two examples is like comparing apples with planets (versus oranges).
Walmart and such establishments are physical buildings that house physical products that we must all have to function physically. Without securing these products, at some point we will die physically.
But the building in this meme, while depicting a church, is not THE church. Rather, it’s just a building. The Bible, from where our theology should flow, is very clear that we should “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” But the church is not a place or a building, rather it is the body of believers in Christ, locally as well as all over the world. Assembling can occur in many different manners and sizes. This has been the case since the book of Acts, when the first assembly of believers began. And to this day, believers in nations all over the world, are sometime forced to meet even secretly, in their homes, for fear of death or persecution.
But there’s another aspect to this meme that I believe flows from the spirit that is implanted within the DNA of most Americans. It is the spirit that asserts our rights above all else, and the attitude of ”no one is ever going to deprive me as an American of my rights.” But is this the “right” attitude to have about rights, if you and I are followers of Jesus? Are we first Americans, or is our citizenship a heavenly one, that should shape and guide all of our responses?
To answer that question we should look to the one we claim to follow: Jesus. His example, and the examples of the “founding fathers” of our faith, the 12 Apostles, reveal a very different attitude about rights than the one that Americans consistently demonstrate, including my own.
We demand. They gave up.
We complain. They gave thanks.
We gripe. They praised God.
We protest. They accepted.
We resist. They submitted.
We live. They died.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that there is not a place for organizations like Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, and others, to pursue justice in our courts. I know the men who lead these organizations, and they are good men, and followers of Jesus. From a purely American Constitutional standpoint I’m sure that Liberty Counsel will represent their client well and will insure the pastor’s constitutional rights are followed.
But there is a difference between an organization appealing to an earthly judge, to enforce the laws of the land, and appealing to The Supreme Judge of the universe to protect and sustain us. The Apostle Paul was beaten many, many times, and once he actually asserted his Roman citizenship to avoid an unjust beating. But besides Paul’s limited example, we see Jesus, and the twelve apostles consistently and repeatedly giving up their rights, submitting to an evil governmental system, and in every instance, except for the Apostle John, they all were executed for their faith.
Americans are big on rights, demanding everything enumerated in the Bill of Rights and more. But true Christianity is about giving up one’s rights. And it’s also about loving our neighbors. When we irresponsibly gather in large groups, we place others, including our neighbors, at risk.
It seems this is an opportunity for the church to humble itself, pray, confess, and serve, not rise up, gripe, complain, and demand.
So I’m less concerned personally about demanding rights, that we can voluntarily relinquish as our spiritual forefathers did, than I am about the church not suffering a black eye as we attempt to be the light in this present darkness.
My point is we are missing the big point of what is going on, in my view, if we simply focus on demanding a “right.” What if we responded like Daniel when his government demanded that he stop praying to God and that he could only offer prayers to the king? Daniel simply went home, without griping and complaining, he opened his window, and kneeled in humility to God and began to pray. No building. No congregation. Just Daniel and God.
Let’s be like Daniel in the midst of the greatest crisis of most of our lifetimes. Let’s be like the Apostles, who submitted themselves to a cruel and evil system, that ultimately took their lives. And let’s be like Jesus, who we are told:
💡“He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:23
And then let’s follow Solomon in doing what he suggested His people should do when they found themselves in the midst of a calamity:
💡“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
The government has been talking about fiscal responses and solutions to the nightmare the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking in our nation and world. Those responses include multi-trillion dollar price tags. Given the panic and hysteria that we see from across this nation, does anyone really know whether such responses will help, or just postpone the inevitable collapse of an economy that has been propped up, for too many decades, by destructive credit policies? Is it possible that the coronavirus is simply the proverbially, “straw that finally broke the camel’s back?”
A couple of weeks ago, in a knee-jerk response, the current administration offered a $1 trillion “mini solution” and the markets tanked as it was being announced. Then, a week ago, the President suggested the idea of stimulus checks of $1,000 to every American, with a price tag of approximately $1 trillion dollars. But Trump had no more gotten that idea out of his mouth, when others were suggesting that wasn’t enough. Now, that “measly” trillion dollars has ballooned to $3-4 trillion and the individual stimulus checks are several thousand dollars for most citizens. And if I were a betting man, I’d wager we still haven’t seen the upward limit of the free money that is going to be printed up and distributed to a populace in need.
There is no doubt that our families, neighbors and citizens are in need. Consider that 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and millions of our neighbors have now lost their jobs for an indefinite period of time because of the closure of their employers by our government. The ability for these unemployed families to even pay for toilet paper (if it were available), but more importantly bread, eggs and milk, is not just limited, but unlikely.
▪️Is Government Liable?
So, if the government, in its estimation, believes that shutting down businesses is the best course of action to protect lives, then it seems that government is liable for making the affected workers (and perhaps businesses) whole. Without debating the decision itself, I believe under any other circumstances, this would likely be the conclusion of any court were it to be adjudicated in front of a judge.
There has never been a scenario like this in our history, of which I’m aware. But the bigger issue is this. Even if the government is liable to the individuals it is harming by its efforts to protect lives, how does our government cover its liability? In an ordinary situation between two parties, if one party harms another, the offending party must make the offended party whole, OUT OF ITS OWN RESOUCES.
In this case, the government is the offending party (in an effort to save lives, which I happen to agree with). The unemployed citizens are the offended party. So what are the government’s resources? Resources equal assets. But one cannot ignore liabilities when discussing resources. In the case of our nation, not only do we have a current national debt of $23,000,000,000,000 (that’s trillion), but we have additional unfunded liabilities for things like Medicare, Medicaid, and such, that total over $150 Trillion in debt. We don’t have the ability to pay the $23 trillion in current debt, so do you think we can pay the $150 trillion that is coming due in the upcoming years?
So where are the trillions going to come from to cover these stimulus checks and bailouts that are forthcoming? Yes, I’ve read that some of the amounts extended by the Feds will be in the form of loans, but that begs the question. Where do all the trillions of dollars come from? The answer is they will come from the same unsound credit policies as the Feds have used for years to cover their previous trillion dollar deficits.
▪️Your Rich Uncle
Consider this though. If you were living lavishly for decades off of a credit card that had an unlimited credit line from your rich uncle, and your uncle finally stepped up and said, “No More!” what would that do to your lifestyle? Particularly, what would you do when the uncle demanded you pay the credit card balance, when you had no ability to do so? Can you say BANKRUPTCY?
In this case, the “rich uncle” for America has been the exceptional privilege America has profited off of as the world’s reserve currency. Other nations and investors have extended credit to us for decades because we were perceived to be a better risk than any other option out there. But more and more, our stellar credit status has been dropping. And again, if I were a betting man, I would wager that this vast Ponzi scheme that our Federal government has been engaged in for years, with the help of both political parties, is about to come to an end.
Am I a doomsday prophet? No. I’ve been writing about this coming collapse for years. And it’s not because I have the mental wherewithal to figure it all out, but rather because there are people much smarter than me who have been warning of this for decades as well. But no one is listening.
▪️Where is the Hope?
But you may ask, “so if there’s no fiscal solution, where is the Hope?”
Well, while I don’t believe there is a permanent solution to the fiscal nightmare we are now living through, I do believe there is Hope for each of us individually. But it will require each of us to think outside the box; to consider options we haven’t considered before; to prepare for what could happen. And if, by some providential move, we are granted another brief period of reprieve from the inevitable coming economic collapse, we should not be lulled into believing that our genius leaders have saved the day. When a doctor causes a fatal wound, but he then puts a bandage on the hemorrhaging gash he caused, you wouldn’t then sit back and start enjoying your “bon-bons” believing that the negligent doctor saved the day, would you? You also wouldn’t congratulate the doctor on a job well done.
▪️What to do?
So what should you and I do? In a minute I’ll share what my first step would be. But here are a few suggestions:
I would prioritize the welfare of my family and loved ones, and then my neighbors, if possible. If you could rewind your life 30-45 days, knowing what you know now, what would you have done then to prepare for where we are today? Likewise, if you took a few minutes to consider where things might be in 30-90 days, if things not only don’t get better, but rather they get exponentially worse, what would you wish then that you would have done today?
In other words “Prepare.” The old “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” should guide your steps.
Nearly a decade ago a group of my friends and I began meeting over the course of a year or so to “Prep” for the possibility of an economic collapse. We put together checklists and discussed steps we should all take in the event that something like we are seeing actually occurred. At the time many would have suggested we were alarmists or worse. But those meetings were extremely helpful in preparing us for what did finally occur these last few weeks. (See the three hyperlinks above for the documents we prepared then.)
Now I don’t share this to suggest that all the items on my checklists in 2011 and 2012 were addressed. I wish I had some more toilet paper perhaps! But the “ounce of prevention” philosophy is one I can encourage you to consider as well. If you’re stuck at home, you now have time to consider what you would do for your family to prepare for what could occur in the future.
Our nation’s fiscal situation has not improved in the last 8 years. In fact, it has gotten exponentially worse. And that was before another several trillion dollars is being borrowed, printed, or created out of thin air, by the big spenders in Washington. So, if the coronavirus is in fact the straw that’s finally exposing our fiscal foolishness as a nation, what could that next straw be? I don’t know. But I also don’t want to be unprepared.
▪️Our Ultimate Hope
So I mentioned I’d share what my first step would be and here it is. I would turn my heart and mind to God during this dire crisis. The greatest threat to you and me today isn’t the COVID-19 virus. Rather, it’s the universal virus that we all share, one that entices us to replace God our Creator, with our own false gods. The gods of wealth, sports, entertainment, politics, pleasure, career, business, travel, or whatever else might be in the forefront of your life and mine. It’s a universal temptation to elevate something temporal, that does not satisfy, in place of the One who is eternal, and completely satisfies.
God is speaking through this crisis. In fact, I would suggest this is God’s crisis. Throughout the Bible we see that it is God that brings both “calamity and good” and “He controls the course of world events.” He does so to get our attention, to disrupt our lives, in order to turn our hearts back to Him. We are a proud people and an even prouder nation. But God resists the proud and even humiliates them. But He also elevates the humble. Could there be any greater example of God humiliating a proud nation and even world than what is happening now as all those “gods” we worshipped are crumbling before us?
So, if there is one silver lining in all this, it is that we all have time to turn back to Him. We have time to open His Word. We have time to fall on our knees. And as we do, we will begin to hear what it is God is speaking to us individually, so that we can repent and turn to Him. As we do, we will find the Hope and Encouragement that is so desperately needed “for such a time as this.”
💡“God controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.” Daniel 2:21
💡“Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord.” Lamentations 3:37-40
Coronavirus. It’s all we hear about. Our minds think about it. Our actions are guided by it. The threat is real. People are dying. And we all have questions. Many of them have no answers, at least not yet.
So there’s a lot of ugliness to this virus, and a lot of bad repercussions, whether you believe it’s no worse than the flu, or whether you believe as the experts do.
But, whenever there is something bad that occurs in life, there’s also good that can come from it. Sometimes we don’t understand the good for days or years. But it’s there.
My worldview is guided by the Bible. There are so many passages that help in times like these. But here’s one for those of us who have embraced it as our supreme authority:
💡“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
For some this verse may make no sense at all. But for others, like me, it not only makes sense, but it offers comfort.
But besides the “spiritual” aspect to what “good” may ultimately come from this pandemic, there are many other practical realities, that we can all take advantage of to see some good come from all this.
So let’s list some:
More time with family.
Opportunity to refocus our thoughts and actions to that which is important and lasting.
Time to read a book, write a letter or essay, compose a song, or enjoy playing your favorite musical instrument.
Time to teach our children important, valuable lessons.
Time to focus on our health, and our family’s, if necessary.
Determining if there are ways we can help our neighbors, and those in need, working within the confines of the restrictions on our mobility.
Opportunity to pray in a more meaningful and deliberate manner.
Most importantly, time to seek God, through Bible reading, prayer and meditation.
In response to time with God, evaluating our lives to see where we have strayed from Him and how it is we should redirect our steps.
But what about you? How are you spending your time? What are some ways you are looking beyond the ugly and the bad of the coronavirus crisis and focusing on the good we can all find as a result of it?
Live Free… find the good!
💡“Seek the Lord, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the Lord will protect you— protect you from his anger on that day of destruction.” Zephaniah 2:3
Last month the author of the best selling Christian book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” announced that he and his wife were filing for divorce. As if that wasn’t sad enough, on the heels of that announcement, Josh Harris shocked the world by stating he was leaving Christianity. In his renouncing of a faith that he had practiced over multiple decades, Harris also recanted the views that he had affirmed and defended in his book, read by millions.
But in reality, the “gospel” according to Harris, as he eloquently authored, didn’t survive even 3 decades, much less a lifetime or a millennia. Yet many who also reject the Bible and Christianity will now point to Harris as some sort of authoritative basis for affirming their own skepticism, and attacking Christianity.
As I was pondering Josh Harris’ about face, in such a profound and public manner, it started me thinking about the Bible. No, my faith in the Bible was not shaken or challenged by Harris’ rejection of God’s Word. Rather, Harris’ flip-flop reaffirmed and strengthened my belief in the authenticity and inerrancy of the book millions embrace.
You might ask, Why?
Books come and go. Premises, thoughts and philosophies also rise and fall. This reality stands to reason since men do the same. The thoughts and theories of man are at best brilliant, but in themselves men are fallible and frequently contradicted with new discoveries. Sooner or later the words of the best men are diminished and even forgotten.
But if the Author of a book is eternal, then it would seem reasonable that His words would be eternal as well. That’s what we see with the Holy Bible, God’s Word. Consider these facts about the Bible:
Written over a span of 1500 years, By approximately 40 men, In multiple languages, Made up of 66 mini-books, Is cohesive and consistent, Banned by emperors and nations, Remains the best selling book of all time.
Beyond these facts, God informs us in His Word:
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
The Bible is a spiritual book, but it is also historical, philosophical, archeological, scientific, and poetic. Yet, the more years that pass, the more the non-spiritual facts are validated.
One way we see this is the way in which the Bible describes scientific facts that are contrary to man’s understanding. What we see over time is that these “unproven” truths are ultimately validated as man’s knowledge and comprehension increases. (By the way, when a skeptic takes the time to investigate this reality, he may walk away amazed by this truth, but pride often prevents a person from actually doing this.)
If the Bible was just a book written by men in their own power and wisdom, sooner or later, many of their thoughts and assertions would be displaced as new information and facts are discovered. However, if the Bible is made up of God’s words, penned by men who were inspired and led by God’s Spirit, then its authenticity and inerrancy will forever be affirmed, even though its oldest words were written 3500 years ago.
The Bible stakes many claims, but some of the most important are those it makes of itself. Note these Truths, about how the Holy Book was actually written:
“…no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Josh Harris’ about face does not disprove God’s Word. Rather, his recanting of his marital vows, and his previous spiritual beliefs, merely reveal a man who is broken and struggling, with himself, the people he loved, and the One he at one point worshipped. He needs our prayers.
I cannot look into Harris heart and know his deepest struggles, but I can know that no man’s belief or rejection will change God’s Word, or the ultimate Truth claims the Bible makes.
So the Bible is either true or a lie. The Book is either infallible, God’s very Word, or it’s fallible, simply words of men. Ultimately what you and I do with the Bible and its Truth claims will determine our eternal destiny.
Just as Jesus Christ, referred to as “the Word” in the gospel of John, is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” so too is the Bible. It does not change. It does not wilt. And it remains immutable, regardless of shifting winds or flip-flopping authors. So when everything else around you seems unstable and in constant change, hold on to the only Book that has stood for millenniums, and make it a part of your everyday life. It’s the only Truth that will always stand firm.