I hesitated to write this article, particularly in this day and time. It seems that anything one writes or posits in this current era, invariably results in arguments, dissension, and sore feelings. I do not wish to cause any of the sort. However, neither do I believe that what I share is beyond scrutiny. So, where we might diverge in our views, I would hope that we could do so respectfully and without resorting to inflammatory remarks, or disparaging attacks. But since I do believe that iron can sharpen iron, I welcome additional thoughts and perspectives.
That said, I must affirm that my source of Truth is the Bible. You may have a different source, and if so, I’m ok with that. I don’t intend to twist your arm to believe that my source is THE source. But it stands to reason, that only one source can be accurate, when various sources disagree as to Truth itself. As I’ve tested and ingested the Bible over many years now, I am 100% convinced that it is Truth, because it was authored by God Himself, through the inspiration and guidance of mortal men. And it consistently convicts, instructs, and directs my life.
So, with that as a background, I wanted to address something that has been quietly at work within me since the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis. First, let me say that I am not one to dabble in conspiracy theories… at least not lately. There was a time in my life when I regularly focused on all sorts of conspiracies, normally those dealing with government and power, which invariably included wealth. And wow did that take up an inordinate amount of my time and focus.
But several years ago I began an intentional time of study of God’s Word, that continues to this day, and I came across this passage that specifically addresses conspiracies:
“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.” Isaiah 8:12-13
Conspiracies, at their heart, typically involve emotions: Fear, Dread, Anger, Resentment, Anxiety, etc. Too often when emotions come into play, we frequently leave logic and faith behind. The Bible speaks of fear many times and from numerous vantage points. But one thing is certain, the fear that is associated with conspiracies is not of God. In fact, the verse above in Isaiah specifically instructs us not to fear or dread what the general population does, and 2 Timothy 1:7 asserts specifically that fear does not come from God:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
But there is One whom we should fear, and it’s God Himself. Jesus told us the reason we should fear His Father:
“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.” Luke 12:4-5
So if conspiracies evoke fear, or anger, and many other negative emotions, which are not from God, and the Bible speaks specifically against overindulging in conspiracies, why would I want to go down those rabbit holes, for which there are often no absolute certainty as to their accuracy?
Since the Bible warns about fear and conspiracies, I have greatly resisted the temptation to begin chasing the many theories about COVID-19 that are regularly promoted by our culture. Social media is one of the great platforms that promotes all sorts of conspiracies… #fakenews as it’s commonly referred to these days.
But one man’s #fakenews is another man’s gospel truth.
So what do we believe? And what deserves our undivided attention? This seem to be the real struggle these days with most of what we read, watch, or consume mentally.
So as the Coronavirus pandemic has continued to extend, and wreak such havoc and devastation locally, nationally, and globally, I believe it would be foolish to not at least consider other alternative explanations for what is causing such calamity to so many.
Since my source of Truth is the Bible, then I think it bears mentioning that this ancient Book identifies who it is that is invested in wreaking havoc, confusion and dissension. In fact, Jesus had this to say about the one I am referring to:
“He (the devil) is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
Additionally, we read this about Satan the deceiver, in the final book of the Bible:
“This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.” Revelation 12:9
While God is at work here on our globe, so is Satan. His lies and deception are ever present throughout all the ages. His primary objective is to deceive mankind, individually and collectively, and to lead us away from God. Given the fact that Satan is the master deceiver, it can only be concluded that many of us could easily fall for his slick lies. And he can package them in the most credible arguments that millions, if not billions could embrace. The term #fakenews is a recent term in our culture, but Satan has been packaging fake news since the first moments of man’s existence on the earth.
So what does all this have with COVID-19? Well, in our lifetimes, and perhaps in the history of the world, there has never been a moment in time like the one in which we are living. The entire world, including hundreds of nations, collectively agreed on a common response to a worldwide phenomena. That in and of itself is unprecedented. Think about that. Within weeks, if not days, all of the civilized world closed down. And with this closure, literally billions of people were dramatically impacted. In America alone, tens of millions of our fellow Americans lost their paychecks. Overnight. With no warning. More people are unemployed than in the Great Depression.
But I believe God is sovereign. So nothing happens here on this globe, or in your life, that God has not either caused, or allowed. But as true as this reality is, there is another Truth to consider during this crisis. Satan, while not sovereign, has been given broad discretion to operate deceptively amongst us, with a diabolical scheme to destroy all that is good. Remember, Satan is called “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2:2) And we are also told that he “walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 1:8)
So if COVID-19 has wreaked havoc, death, and destruction, and the loudest voices across the entire globe are trumpeting a synonymous message, is it possible their message is one that is deceptive, whether purposeful or ignorantly? I think the answer must be “Yes it is possible” — at least it is for me.
So, if the above is true, that the solutions and conclusions that are being promoted by our leaders could be false, or incorrect, then what is True? Sadly, I cannot personally say. Nor can I yet decipher from the other conflicting voices and messages. But is it worth listening to them, in moderation, in order to derive truth, so that we can respond correctly?
Again, I think the answer is Yes, at least for me.
But here is where I am responding differently today than I might have five or ten years ago. Then, I would have gone all in on investigating and researching, to the extreme, the alternative responses to COVID-19. I would have become obsessed with viewing and reading the unlimited options available to overdose on “conspiracy-mania.” This is how we get sucked in to an unhealthy, and I believe unscriptural, response to this crisis. So I would ask you to consider that there is nothing that you might discover, even if it were the conclusive “smoking gun” behind this crisis, that will change the world, or Washington DC, or your state, or your community. Nothing.
So if there is nothing you might discover that will change much of anything about COVID-19, then why try to find out? I think the primary reason to attempt to decipher the truth of this crisis, within moderation, is to better equip yourself, your family, and your community, with a plan to respond to whatever might come next. This is not because we fear what might come next, but rather because the Bible tells us that:
”A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” Proverbs 22:3
Is there danger ahead? I think so. Should we prepare ourselves? Yes, if possible. But should we fear or obsess over it? Absolutely not. God is our refuge. Our tower. Our strength. We have no need to fear since there is no conspiracy that He did not already foreknow. Furthermore, we know that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
But finally, this is the greatest reason to not obsess over conspiracies, or go to herculean efforts to try to discover what likely cannot be known with certainty. If you were to know all there is to know about the origination of the Coronavirus, it would have little, or perhaps no, impact on your soul, or the soul of your neighbors. Remember what Jesus said in the verse above: “don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.”
In that short statement, Jesus was contrasting the temporal, your physical life, with the eternal, your spiritual life. The loss of a life here on earth is of eternal insignificance when compared with the loss of a spiritual life in the life to come. So why would you and I obsess over conspiracies of the Coronavirus, which are temporal at best, when all around us are souls who are potentially facing a spiritual virus whose curse is eternal?
If Jesus, or any of the Apostles were here today, I can hardly believe that they would set aside their God-ordained purpose, to get caught up in pursuing the cause of a global pandemic. Rather, I believe they would do today, exactly what they did in their time. They would “love God and love their neighbor as themselves.” And that love would propel them to redouble their efforts to share the only news that has the power to overcome conspiracies, COVID-19, and the father of lies. So we should strive to do what John commanded us to do:
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.
We’ve all heard the saying, “the truth will set you free.” It’s possible we’ve even quoted it. But have you ever asked yourself, “what truth?”
In this age of relativism, it’s also often said, “truth is whatever you believe it to be.”
But how can both of these statements be true? For if you or I want to be free, and truth is whatever we believe it to be, then can just anything you or I believe give us the freedom we seek or long for?
Of course not. Believing such absurdity can easily be disproved. Consider this example. If the one struggling to free himself of his addiction to meth, also believes the cursed chemical frees him from his struggles, then the second “truth” will never lead the addict to the freedom he desires.
So it’s incumbent for us to define and limit truth to its absolute claims, in order for truth to set us free.
When Jesus stood before Pilate, just moments prior to His crucifixion, Pilate asked Jesus a question every human must ask, “What is Truth?”
It’s ironic that Pilate asked this question of the One who had earlier claimed, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” (John 14:6)
This would be akin to asking Elon Musk the question, “What is an electric car?” or Ronald Reagan, “What is a conservative?” They were both authorities in their fields so they were equipped to answer their respective question.
Jesus had spent His entire earthly ministry living and explaining Truth. His teachings revealed Truth. And His life was a living example of Truth. So when the Authority on Truth shared the secret to being set free by the Truth, we should consider His words:
“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Did you catch that? There is only one way to know the Truth, and that is: 1) to know the teachings of Jesus, and 2) to remain faithful to those teachings.
His teachings are both. But the teachings of Jesus are also profound. If you want to truly know those teachings, they will not be learned solely in a class, a YouTube video, or sitting in church (although these may all be helpful).
Rather, the teachings of Jesus will be learned as we spend time daily in the book of Jesus’ teachings (the Bible). They will be learned as we “pray without ceasing” (meaning live our lives in a constant state of prayer). His teachings will be learned as we try them, stumble, get back up, and try them again. They will be learned as God’s Spirit reveals them to us, and empowers us, as we earnestly seek God. And His teachings will be learned as we meditate on them, and share them with others.
Ultimately, we will be “faithful to Jesus’ teachings” as they become the Truth that literally consumes and dominates our lives. As we faithfully do this, “the truth will set us free.”
Are you ready to be set free from whatever entraps you?
“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:36)
Greed is a character flaw that runs deep within the heart of America and one that we see too often in business, government and individuals. The sin of Greed is a powerful force that can easily infect us individually, and it’s one I have struggled with at times. So we must constantly be on guard against it. But we should also call it out when we see it reflected in our government and its institutions.
In case you missed it, TVA just filed suit against several individuals to gain access to their farmland “for the taking of a temporary right under the power of eminent domain and award of just compensation to the owners and parties of interest.” It has been reported that the owners of the subject land are not interested in selling their land.
TVA’s lust for the property of others is a sin. But an agency or organization does not sin on its own. Rather, sin is committed by individuals. So when we see an organization, agency or government committing insidious acts, we must resist the temptation to blame the entity alone. Rather, we must look to its members, executives or representatives. Never let this truth pass you by.
There are individuals within TVA who are individually responsible for the Greed that is being displayed in their unjust desire to take and to steal what is not theirs. These individuals may hide behind the three letter agency name they represent, but they are personally responsible, and to blame, for the evil acts of the agencies they lead. And yes, taking another individual’s personal property without their consent, otherwise known as stealing, is evil.
There is a second truth that we can learn from TVA’s latest strategy. Do not be deceived into thinking that just because courts might rule that something is “legal” it is then just or right. This includes ruling that a developer, agency or government can take land from an unwilling party.
Declaring something to be “legal” has never set the bar of what is right, nor righteous. Whenever man establishes an arbitrary standard, that standard can always be reversed or revised, thus affirming the truth that man’s laws are fallible.
There is only one standard that is true, right, infallible, and righteous. And God has weighed in on all matters of significance and consequence, including Greed in general, and taking someone else’s property in specific. There are literally countless passages in the Bible that instruct us about this topic, including the ten commandments, moving boundaries, taking the property of the weak, and so many more. To be clear, all of us are “weak” when compared with the multi-billion dollar budgets, holdings, and resources of TVA.
So, when it comes to TVA’s abusive effort to take what is not theirs, using the power of a court, via the threat and cost of a lawsuit, rest assured that evil intentions are at work. But remember that these decisions are not simply some impersonal government agency’s policies at play. Rather, know that it is a man or a woman, or even several men and women, who are willfully conspiring to take what is not theirs to advance their own selfish desires.
In this specific case, I have met some of the individuals responsible for this Greed via TVA. Some are members of local, bible-teaching churches. Yet their faith is at odds with their choices in their workplace. They are doing to their “neighbor” what they would never want done to themselves. In so doing, these men and women are violating a foundational value that they would likely say they embrace. What a sad reality. But they are not to be condemned but rather challenged in a respectful and even prayerful manner. We should all remember that we are all frail and too often struggle with our own shortfalls and character flaws. But we must still share truth regardless.
Just as God judged Ahab and Jezebel for stealing a citizen’s farmland several thousand years ago, I believe He will judge these men and women who are seeking to steal the farmland of several of their local citizens and their families. Since God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” He does not change with the whims of man, or the rulings of a court. His Truths remain, as does His Justice.
So the good news is this. Sooner or later Justice will prevail, and Greed will be exposed and punished. Of course, most of us like to see justice prevail in the short-term though. So if you agree with these sentiments, please share this article with others. Perhaps God’s Truth, or a groundswell of opposition in our community, will cause the men and women responsible for this latest TVA effort to reverse their course of Greed.
“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts…” (Isaiah51:7)
What if I told you that the Key to Life was just one word? Would you believe it? Could you guess the word?
I believe most, if not all, of humanity has often wondered what that Key is. The fact is most who have searched for the Key have never found it because they have gone down the wrong path looking for it. Without the Truth to instruct them, they invariably realize the key they’ve pursued has failed to open the door to Life.
So just what is that Key? I believe we can find it over and over in God’s Word, but perhaps the following verses are as plain as it can be made:
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life…”(Deuteronomy30:19-20)
Did you catch that? The Key to Life is a Choice. And that Choice is a deliberate decision: “…loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him.”
It’s really that simple. A Choice.
But to be honest, while simple, it is quite hard, as far as I’ve discovered — hard because we live in a difficult, broken world.
This “Hard” is realized each day because, while we may make this Choice in the morning, by noon, or even earlier, the enemy (Satan) has likely tempted us to forget that Choice. And because we are frail, and our “spirit is willing but our flesh is weak” we may fall, again and again.
But God recognized this trait of humanity. He understood that “the godly may trip seven times, but he will get up again.” (Prov. 24:16) To be clear, this is not because the godly are good, or better or stronger than others, but rather because God promised that “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
In my own life, I have found myself failing and falling way more often than succeeding. Why is this? I believe it’s because we are truly engaged in the war of the ages. It has been going on since the beginning of time “for we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
I have often met to discuss God, the Bible and spiritual matters with friends who question, scoff at, or even reject God. My heart is often heavy for them. But I believe if they are honest with themselves, they too will admit that they are engaged in an inner struggle — one which they most likely cannot understand or explain. Yet God did not desire us to be ignorant concerning Life or these deep personal struggles. Because God “is not willing that any should perish…” (2 Peter 3:9)
But God is also not one to demand or force someone to do something they do not want to do. And so we come back to that simple truth:
🔑 The Key to Life is a Choice.
And it’s our decision. No one else’s. But even though we choose God once and for all for our eternal destination (heaven), we must also continuously choose God moment by moment in order to have the “rich and satisfying life” that Jesus promised (John 10:10).
Easter… A week has passed since the day that people around the world celebrated the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It was a day of victory and triumph. But unlike other holidays, which come and go until a year later, the truth of Easter is one that followers of Jesus should acknowledge and celebrate every day of the year.
The disciples had spent nearly every day with Jesus, for the three years leading up to the crucifixion. He had become not just their constant companion and Friend, but also their Teacher and God. So when Jesus fulfilled His own prophecy, and arose from the dead three days after His death, the disciples’ grief turned to joy and exhilaration.
The example of the disciples over the next several weeks following the Resurrection, is one from which we could all learn. As we read in the Gospels of the interactions between the followers of the Messiah, and Jesus, we see men and women who were continuously joyous at being reunited with their Savior. But their joy and celebration was not limited to a singular day or even those few weeks. Rather, “He is Risen” became the Truth that defined the rest of their lives.
That Truth also became the reason that fishermen became apostles, uneducated men became giants in the faith, and those dozen men ignited a worldwide spiritual flame that would never be extinguished. Even agnostics and unbelievers who heard them were astonished at these unlearned men, who had spent three years with the Author of Life. Within years though, that truth of the first Easter morning ultimately sustained them as they were eventually martyred by a world who rejected them and their risen Savior.
Fast forward though a couple thousand years to our present day. We just finished up another Easter week. But is Easter over for you? Was it just another holiday? Was it merely a time to spend with family and friends, and perhaps a quick visit to an Easter service somewhere? Or are you like the early disciples, whose lives were forever changed by their resurrected Savior?
If you profess Christ, then remember that He is Risen today too, and He is ever present with you as He was with His disciples, regardless of the circumstances or trials that might momentarily overwhelm you. But if you are walking this life apart from the Messiah who defeated death when He arose from the grave, then I urge you to open your life and heart to the One who not only died for you and me, but who also arose to give us that same victory over death.