Cure for The Fear Pandemic

By Heather Walton

About 20 years ago, shortly after I became a Christian, I was participating in some job training. One day we took a lunch break at a local outdoor food court. As we ate, a bee took an interest in my food and wouldn’t leave me alone. I was terrified of insects, especially the stinging type, so I began panicking like a 3-year-old. One of my fellow trainees, a middle-aged Jewish woman, looked at me pointedly and said, “You know, I’m really surprised that someone with your great faith would be so scared of a little bee.”

At that moment, I was stung with such conviction that I determined that I would no longer fear insects, and to this day, I have succeeded. My fear had ruined my ability to enjoy lunch, but more than that, it had marred my testimony to an unbelieving friend.

A pastor told a story of a family taking a car trip in which a bee decided to ride along. One of the children was shrieking in terror, when his father decided to intervene. The father caught the bee in his hand, took the sting, and then let the bee continue to fly around the car. He assured his child that there was nothing more to fear, since he had already taken the stinger. The pastor likened this father to our Lord, who took the sting of death for those who trust in Him, that we might not fear the sting of death.

How many of us are doing just that, though? We are living in fear of so many things today:

  • a microscopic virus that could make us sick and has less than 1% chance of killing us
  • violent crime
  • losing our livelihood
  • losing our savings
  • being shamed for wearing/not wearing a mask
  • losing our civil liberties
  • who will win the election
  • being forced to take a vaccine
  • what the next big development of 2020 will be

Add to the list any personal fears we each carry, and it can be really overwhelming.

I’ve been considering a few questions lately:

What’s more important — surviving or living?

First, what’s more important — surviving or living? If I have to live in a bubble in order to stay alive, is that really living? If I have to fear every little thing when I walk out of my house and every little thing that comes into my house, is that really living? If I am missing out on relationships, is that really living? Would I rather live long or would I rather live well?

I’ve also pondered why this particular illness is the ONE that has us all paralyzed and isolated. We’ve never done anything like this before, as far as shutting down so systematically and for so long. Other illnesses and activities have killed far more people, but went virtually unnoticed. What’s the difference?

Part of the problem today, I think, is that we are so entitled as Americans. We believe that we simply should live to be very old and that we should have our needs provided for us. We expect life to be safe and sterile, and current events don’t fit our expectations.

I look at America today and, technological advances aside, I doubt our ancestors would recognize us. Think about it: People boarded ships, risking illness, starvation, and death, to come to America. Pioneers trekked across the country on foot and in wagons, risking life and limb, to make a better life for themselves and their posterity. America has been known for its independent spirit. Americans have historically been leaders who took risks to advance and rise above circumstances. Yet, here we are, allowing our country to be brought to a screeching halt by a microscopic organism that is not nearly as likely to affect us as the dangers our patriot predecessors faced.

At the turn of the 20th century, the average life expectancy was mid-forties, meaning I personally probably would have gone onto glory by my age if I had lived during that time. Today, we expect — even demand — to live twice that long. The average coronavirus death happens to those over the average life expectancy, and though every death is sad, it seems presumptuous for us to expect to cheat death. With the exception of two people in history (Enoch and Elijah), every single person has died or will die, barring the rapture. God has determined every one of our days before even one of them came to be, so for us to think we can come up with a humanistic solution to the problem of death is utterly prideful and foolish.

We are creating a generation of germaphobes and hypochondriacs. We need to remember that we shouldn’t fear death so much as we should fear and revere the One who determines how we spend eternity.

Another area of fear relates to our liberty. There are people threatening America’s freedoms, people who violate the Constitution in the name of peace and safety and people who push a Marxist agenda. Many of us know we need to stand against this, yet we are afraid to do so. We fear legal penalties, social stigma, family safety, and more. We would do well to look at the example of our nation’s founders. They put it all on the line for their families and their descendants. They risked all of this for us, people who were not yet born, but would benefit from their willingness to sacrifice. How would they feel, knowing we have taken this freedom so for granted that we don’t mind giving it up?

Let’s take it a step further: How must God feel toward us, knowing that He created our bodies to be resilient and our brains to be wise, yet we are so fearful? How must He feel, knowing that He sent His precious Son to die for us, that we may have the abundant, eternal life, yet we are so caught up in the physical existence? How must he feel, knowing that He died to set us free, never again to be enslaved, yet we willingly submit ourselves to multiple yokes of slavery? How must He feel, seeing us shaking our fists, kicking our legs, writhing in anger and fear, and demanding long life, prosperity, and security, when He has all of those things laid up for us, just not in the form we demand?

There are at least 100 verses that tell us not to fear. Why?

  1. God is on His throne.
  2. He is never taken by surprise.
  3. He has promised never to leave or forsake us.
  4. He has our best interest in mind.
  5. He takes care of the lilies and the birds, and will certainly take care of us.
  6. He loves us.
  7. He is our father and we are His children.
  8. He determined our times and places, and knew all of our days before even one came to be.
  9. He gave us a spirit of power and a sound mind.
  10. He has promised us the abundant life.
  11. Our eternal life is secure if we trust in Him.
  12. He delights to take care of us.
  13. He will provide for us in the midst of our enemies.
  14. He will not allow evil to triumph.
  15. Nothing can separate us from His love.
  16. He is the One with the power over life and death.
  17. Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.
  18. He will uphold us with His righteous right hand.
  19. He has already told us how it ends. Spoiler: He wins and we get the spoils.
  20. He has prepared a place for us.
  21. We are already seated with Him in heaven.
  22. He has freed us from slavery.
  23. He has taken away the sting of death.
  24. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.
  25. He is in control!

I could go on forever …

If you’re a Christ follower and you’re fearful or anxious, this is understandable, especially given the uncertainty we currently face, yet the Lord has given us the remedy:

… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

This is the believer’s prescription for peace. It’s not necessarily easy, but it is attainable.

If you don’t yet know the Lord, then no wonder you are anxious or concerned; not only is this life precarious, but your eternity is unsettled. I have good news: That can change today!

Simply acknowledge that you are a sinner, meaning you agree with God that you’ve done bad things, and that you have offended Him with those actions. Because of this, you don’t deserve to spend eternity in His presence. However, God sent His Son, Jesus, to live as a man, to identify with our weaknesses, to live a perfect life, and to die an atoning death, not for His own sins, because He was sinless, but for our sins. Accept that payment for your sins and transfer your allegiance from this world and your flesh to Him. Commit to allowing Him to be in charge of your life from here on out. Confess Him as your Lord, knowing that He died for your sins and rose from the dead, confirming that He is God and that He has authority to forgive sins and power to give you eternal life. When you do, He will save you and begin the process of sanctifying you, which means making you a more Christlike person. Your eternity will be secure, and you will be reconciled to Him. This will give you peace, joy, and comfort, no matter what circumstances come your way. Out of response for what He has done, get plugged into a local congregation, get baptized, read the Bible, pray, and serve others, all in order to know Him better and to glorify God to others, all because you’re grateful for His free gift. We can’t earn any of this; we simply accept it and it’s ours.

A right relationship with God, one in which we believe His promises are true and that He has our best interest in mind, is the cure for the fear pandemic.

Are We in the End Times? (Part 2)

By Heather Walton

This is the second article in a series about the End Times. I highly recommend reading this article first.

I enjoy studying prophesy because I love to see God’s plan unfold, and it’s exciting to think that Jesus Christ could come for the church in my lifetime, that I may not actually have to die in order to go to heaven. To think the God may have chosen me to live in this particular time in history is thrilling. In Acts 17:26, we learn that God determines when and where each of us fits into His eternal tapestry. I trust that He has placed me exactly in this time and place for a purpose, and I’ll consider it a bonus if I get to be one of the ones who gets to be taken to heaven while still alive.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV

I have long wondered if I might be part of the generation that gets to be on the earth when the Rapture takes place, but recent world events have brought me to a greater degree of anticipation. Signs of the times have been appearing a long time, and we have been in the “last days,” since Jesus ascended into heaven. But I’m specifically referring to the very last days, the end times.

In Matthew 24, we are told that many people will be taken by surprise, simply living life, marrying, eating, drinking, working, going on with business as usual. And suddenly two people will be working together or lying down together and one will suddenly be gone. Jesus says that the hour he comes will be unexpected, but, like in the Jewish wedding custom, we should be able to tell when the time is getting close for the groom, Jesus, to come get His bride, the church.

Many people are looking hard for certain signs that will only be fully revealed after the rapture takes place, such as the identity of the antichrist or the mark of the beast. While there are some people and things that strongly appear to have the potential to fulfill these prophesies, I don’t believe we will be able to know for sure before the one who holds the man of lawlessness back, the Holy Spirit, is taken out of the world via the church’s disappearance from the earth in the rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).

The spirit of the antichrist has been at work since the Garden of Eden, when Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from any tree in the garden” (Genesis 3:1)? There are some noteworthy elements of this question. First, he got her to question God. Second, he subtly twisted God’s words, so that there was an element of truth, yet it was mixed with a lie. A truth mixed with a lie is a lie, because partial truth is no truth at all. Third, he took his question to Eve, rather than Adam, probably in part because she hadn’t heard directly from God; this was a way to get her to question God, as well as her husband. Fourth, this question was designed to get Eve to doubt God’s goodness, and to make her feel oppressed.

Satan followed up with, “He knows if you eat of it, you won’t surely die, but you will become like Him, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4). In other words, Eve, honey, He’s holding out on you. He’s oppressing you. In fact, he’s lying to you. He wants to keep all the power for Himself. But you deserve better, don’t you? You know, I have a solution: if you eat this fruit, you won’t die; on the contrary, you’ll be like God, and you can get out from under His oppressive yoke and get what’s due you. Doesn’t that sound good? Come on, darling, just one bite and you can be your own god.

He appealed to her emotions, he lied to her, and he created discontent in her, in order to compel her to action. He created a false gospel that we see alive and well today; he tempted her to believe that she could solve her own problems, in her own power, that she didn’t need God, and that she would not only escape the consequences God had laid out, but would instead be rewarded for going against God’s design. Not all who buy into these humanistic lies are atheists, but they operate in various degrees of functional atheism, depending on human solutions and achievements to solve the world’s problems. This, I believe, is the spirit of the antichrist that is in the world.

The mark of the beast is symbolized by the number 666 (Revelation 13:18). Since perfection in Scripture is symbolized by the number seven, six falls just short of that. Notice that Satan’s lies in the garden were close to the truth, but had a subtle difference, one you would have to be very attentive to notice. The devil is clever, “masquerading as an angel of light” (2 Thessalonians 11:14), and his tactics have an appearance of godliness, yet deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The doctrine of humanism fits this description well.

While humanism fits the principles of the spirit of the antichrist and the mark of the beast, I also believe there will be a literal man who culminates history by embodying the spirit of the antichrist, being possessed by Satan himself (Daniel 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18). I also believe that there will be a literal mark of the beast, which people will be required to have in order to buy and sell (Revelation 13:16-18; Revelation 19:20). I believe the antichrist is alive today and ready to step onto the world stage, and the technology to implement the mark of the beast is in development. I don’t know exactly who the antichrist is, or what the mark will be, but I can see several players emerging and multiple technological possibilities.

The books of Daniel and Revelation (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 13:1-18) tell us of 10 kingdoms, with 3 dominant kingdoms, and 1 leader emerging. People have long thought these 10 kingdoms are 10 countries, but I would like to propose a different possibility. I believe these 10 kingdoms may be 10 global organizations, committed to bringing about a unified governing body that will solve the world’s problems. There are multiple global organizations working toward a common goal of ushering in world peace, ending hunger and poverty, bringing about health reforms, lowering the population, creating imposed equality, reversing climate change, and creating a united human community. While these may sound like excellent goals, they propose humanistic means to meet humanistic ends.

The United Nations’ 2030 sustainable development goals, the pope’s Human Fraternity initiative, the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset,” the World Health Organization’s Constitution, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s core beliefs, Babylon Health’s “accessible and affordable health care,” the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the World Bank, the Open Society Foundation and the World Trade Organization are among the global players with a humanistic agenda. Many, if not all, see needs for global unity and collaboration in order to usher in an era of peace, equity, and health for all people.

The current worldwide health crisis provides an opportunity to advance the agenda of these and other likeminded organizations. The World Economic Forum published an article this week that detailed how the COVID-19 crisis can facilitate a “global reset.”

“We set up a new world order after World War II. We’re now in a different world than we were then. We need to ask, what can we be doing differently? The World Economic Forum has a big responsibility in that as well – to be pushing the reset button and looking at how to create well-being for people and for the Earth.”

Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/covid19-great-reset-gita-gopinath-jennifer-morgan-sharan-burrow-climate/

The global health situation has not actually changed the world, but has revealed what was already going on behind the scenes. Many refuse to see what’s taking place, or they see these initiatives as good. Again, there is an appearance of godliness. The problem is that humanistic solutions provide a false gospel, one that says we can save ourselves. They don’t require that we denounce faith in the god of our choice, even the true God, as long as that faith leaves room for us to also bow down to the gods of human achievement, personal entitlement, and political correctness, to name a few. The problem is that God refuses to share His glory with another. He is a jealous God, requiring our complete allegiance. Just as a loving parent doesn’t consider partial obedience to be true obedience, neither does our Creator consider partial allegiance to be acceptable worship.

Jesus said we are either for Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30). Those who are with Him, who truly follow Him, will spend eternity with Him, but those who deny Him or are lukewarm in their devotion will spend eternity separated from Him (Matthew 7:21; Matthew 10:33; John 3:16-18; Revelation 3:14-22). In light of this, we should examine ourselves. The time is short. Even if the rapture doesn’t take place anytime soon, though I believe it will, any of us could die at any time. That’s why those of us who know the Lord need to be intentional and passionate about sharing the Gospel and discipling others (Matthew 28:16-20; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5) and who those who don’t yet know Him need to confess their sin, turn from their wicked ways (even though they may seem like “good” people), confess Jesus as Lord, and allow Him to guide their thoughts and decisions from now on (Acts 2:38; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; Acts 16:31; Titus 3:5; Romans 3:23; Romans 10:9-10).

Whether you’re reading this before or after the rapture of the church, it’s important to recognize that humanism doesn’t solve our problems because we don’t have the control we think we do. If there’s anything these times should teach us, it’s that we are not as powerful as we think we are. The only wise way to deal with this truth is to humbly accept it, and then to accept the grace God freely gives, to worship Him, and to serve others for their good and His glory.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:17 ESV

Is Gov. Beshear violating the Constitution?

By Heather Walton

Sadly, though I’ve lived here for most of my life, I hadn’t read Kentucky’s Constitution until this week. I suspect I wasn’t alone when it comes to constitutional illiteracy, but I have begun to be enlightened. I would encourage everyone to become familiar with their state constitution, and with the U.S. Constitution, because these are the highest laws of our land, and when our governing officials break the laws that give them their authority, we should consider whether it’s wise to submit.

While I’m not a constitutional law expert, an ordinary citizen should be able to analyze officials’ actions in light of national and state foundational documents. Therefore, I’ve evaluated recent executive orders by Gov. Andy Beshear in light of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as well as Kentucky Revised Statute 39A, which gives him the authority to declare a state of emergency and outlines his functions.

According to Ky. Rev. Stat. § 39A.090, “The Governor may make, amend, and rescind any executive orders as deemed necessary to carry out the provisions of KRS Chapters 39A to 39F.” I do not think this gives the state’s chief executive carte blanche. Ky. Rev. Stat. § 39A.100 states, “Except as prohibited by this section or other law, to perform and exercise other functions, powers, and duties deemed necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population.” Since the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the highest law of our Commonwealth, it serves as the highest law in our state, and is in keeping with and subordinate to the United States Constitution.

Section 1 of Kentucky’s Constitution guarantees rights of life, liberty, worship, pursuit of safety and happiness, free speech, acquiring and protecting property, peaceable assembly, redress of grievances, bearing arms. All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned:

First: The right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties. The Governor’s edicts have kept and continue to keep many from being able to work, and thereby enjoying their lives and liberties. We do not have the freedom to live our lives and to practice liberty of movement or fulfillment of our God-given calling to provide for our families, move about freely, attend church, sing and participate in sacraments, decide how many people to have in our homes, go places without a mask or temperature check, or keep our associations with others private. At first, these precautions seemed necessary, but they still would have violated the Constitution; now that the curve has been flattened, our rights certainly should be returned to us.

Second: The right of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences. We have not been able to worship according to the dictates of our consciences. While I’m glad we have been able to use online worship services, we have not been able to meet, and now that we are, we still are not able to do so according to our consciences. We are told not to get too close to one another, not to sing corporately, and not to participate in Sacraments. These things go against Scripture. If a person is sick, he should stay home from church, but that’s common sense and should be exercised at all times, but if he is well, there is not a substantial reason to comply. (He also should theoretically be able to be anointed and prayed over by the elders of the church.) If a person is at-risk, she also should consider staying home, but also should have the freedom to make that choice. For those who are healthy, there is no compelling reason to celebrate faith differently than at any other time.

Third: The right of seeking and pursuing their safety and happiness. This is an individual right of each Kentuckian to seek and pursue safety and happiness, not a mandate for the government to impose corporate safety on all citizenry. Our governor and other authorities have decided to potentially compromise financial, religious, and informational safety for supposed health safety. And many have been forced to trade happiness for a supposed safety.

Fourth: The right of freely communicating their thoughts and opinions. While I can’t specifically fault the government for this, I see the media inhibiting and overruling the right to free speech and communication.

Fifth: The right of acquiring and protecting property. How can people acquire and protect property when commerce is mostly shut down and nearly half of the state population is unemployed? Granted, many are receiving unemployment, but not all, and there will likely be a future price to pay for today’s temporary provision.

Sixth: The right of assembling together in a peaceable manner for their common good, and of applying to those invested with the power of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance. People have been allowed to protest; yet they have been demonized for doing so. Have their petitions been acknowledged or addressed? It doesn’t appear so.

So far, we have only looked at Section 1. In Section 2, absolute and arbitrary power is denied.

Absolute and arbitrary power over the lives, liberty and property of freemen exists nowhere in a republic, not even in the largest majority. It seems to me that there has been much absolute and arbitrary power in the republic and in the commonwealth. Gov. Beshear made many executive orders which were presented as law and did so while the legislature was out of session. He was partially checked by the courts, but many of his edicts have been made without anyone being able to do anything about it. Not only has he exercised absolute power, but his decisions have appeared arbitrary. A large store could be open and lots of people could be inside, while a small business had to be closed. People couldn’t get cancer screenings and “elective” surgeries, but they could get an abortion. People could pack the hardware store or go to a liquor store, but could not go to church. Kids can now participate in contact sports, but nobody can go to a public pool.

Section 15 says that the General Assembly is the only one with the right to suspend laws, but it seems that the governor has done so time after time during this “crisis.”

Section 26 sums it all up well by stating, To guard against transgression of the high powers which we have delegated, We Declare that every thing in this Bill of Rights is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate; and all laws contrary thereto, or contrary to this Constitution, shall be void. I understand this to mean that several of Gov. Beshear’s executive orders are essentially void.

This brings me to my last point, in Section 4, which states that power is inherent in the people. Right to alter, reform, or abolish government. All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety, happiness and the protection of property. For the advancement of these ends, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may deem proper.

We have a governor whom I believe to be well-intentioned, yet in many ways wrong. He may be a nice guy, but nice is not a leadership qualification. Gov. Beshear has, in the name of saving “the most vulnerable,” neglected many vulnerable taxpayers, small business owners, people with health conditions other than COVID-19, school children, unborn children, and newly born children. Our Constitution gives us the right to alter, reform, or abolish our government as we deem proper. Is it time to exercise this right? We have petitioned Gov. Beshear. He has refused to listen, and in many cases, even to acknowledge our grievances; perhaps it is time we consider requiring him to step down from leadership, and restructure the government to provide greater checks and balances, that we may not be subject to absolute and arbitrary leadership from any future governor.

Author’s Note: I am not condoning violence in any way. Those who have threatened the Governor do not represent the best interests of Kentuckians, and should be held accountable for their actions.

A Conflict of Liberty?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

There is a divide in the church today. Unfortunately, this statement could likely be made at any time in history past, present, or future, until the Lord returns.

I just read an article about a local megachurch, in which they had taken a survey of their members. According to the pastor, there was about an equal split between members who believe they should meet in person immediately, those who think they should wait the situation out a little longer, and those who believe they should wait till there’s a cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Right after reading that, I read a post from a Christian leader who believes it’s cowardly for pastors not to immediately open, especially given that the President said he supports churches opening right away, even though some governors have kept them closed or placed lots of restrictions on them; she was discouraged that many pastors elected to remain closed.

Our small church did open today, allowing for following CDC recommendations, while not demanding churchgoers follow these protocols. We had some folks in attendance, as well as some watching online.

Christian seems to rise against Christian, some claiming we need to stand up for our rights, while others say that doing so violates Biblical principles. While I agree that the Bible trumps the Constitution, I also would posit that the Constitutional framers did so with Biblical principles in mind. Initially I asserted the view that we should lay down our First Amendment rights for the greater good of protecting our brother from harm; however, I’ve appreciated some contrary perspectives, and, while I don’t claim to have a perfect answer, I want to propose consideration of these thoughts:

  1. If someone slaps me on the right cheek, I can offer him the left; however, if someone slaps all of us on the right cheek, or if slapping me on the right cheek could lead to abuse of others, I should strongly consider standing up for our collective rights.
  2. I should examine my motives; if I’m driven by fear, greed, unrighteous anger, or any other sinful attitude, I should reconsider my position. Once my motives are pure, then I need to establish the best plan of action and follow it.
  3. What precedents are we setting by allowing our Constitutional rights to be infringed upon? How will our response impact future generations? We need to be wary of giving up rights that our God-fearing forefathers and generations of military members secured for us, many of them giving their lives, and all of them being willing to do so. More importantly, we need to prayerfully consider what is worth giving up the freedoms for which Christ set us free. We have been commanded not to be subject again to a yoke of slavery. The enemy of our souls can make a very convincing argument, and we need to be vigilant and discerning, lest we be led astray.
  4. What effect do our actions and inactions have on those who witness them? What will most glorify God to the watching world? There is a prevailing thought that Christians need to be compliant, docile, and unassuming at all times. Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Some people believe that, since Jesus was described as meek, we are not to assert ourselves. However, meekness isn’t weakness. Meekness is power under control, not a lack of power. Jesus stood up against oppression and injustice. He spoke out against the Pharisees, who placed unbearable yokes on others, and against the moneychangers, who took advantage of others. He did not gloss over sin, but lovingly confronted transgressors. Should we not follow in His steps?
  5. How has our culture shaped our view of what it means to be loving? Is being nice the same thing as being kind? In this era of political correctness, we have been brainwashed into trying to please everyone and to avoiding actions that may offend others. To love another means to want his or her best. I would never condone shaming someone who doesn’t feel comfortable returning to church, to work, or to society because they are in a high-risk group; we are called to prudence. However, if we give the impression that the only way to be loving is to watch church at home, to keep our businesses closed, to wear a mask everywhere, and to support the governing authorities’ every decision, we may not be giving the full picture. Isn’t it also loving to visit the sick (provided we are healthy and not caregivers for others in a high-risk group), to contribute to our neighbors’ livelihoods by utilizing their businesses, to contribute to society with meaningful work, to uphold truth, to confront error, and to preserve our countrymen’s God-given rights?
  6. Do our actions show favoritism to any person or group? It seems that we are listening to the counsel of some medical professionals but not others. There are plenty of solid medical personnel, some of whom use conventional medicine and others who use alternative methods, who say that the recommended measures are inaccurate and even counterproductive. Even though many are using recent data or reliable research to verify their stance, not only are they being discounted, many are effectively being silenced, because their recommendations don’t fit the prevailing narrative put forth by many in government and the mainstream media. We also seem to be showing favoritism to those vulnerable from a health standpoint, to the exclusion of those vulnerable from an economic or spiritual standpoint.
  7. What is the highest authority in our country or state? It is not the president or governor, and it definitely isn’t any worldwide organization or philanthropist. The Constitution guides our government, and the government is “by the people, of the people, and for the people.” Who are the people? The citizens of this country. When governors, presidents, legislators, or judges violate the Constitution, we need to question whether obedience is necessary. If we follow the Constitution, we are not breaking the law, even if we are told that we are.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, a masterpiece of logic, morality, and theological exposition, as applied to the issue of segregation is the source of the famous words, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Do you know the audience of this letter? Dr. King addressed this apologetic for “civil disobedience” to white pastors who thought he had gone too far by encouraging his followers to break the law. He echoed Augustine, saying that an “unjust law is no law at all.” He said that a just law is in harmony with moral law, that any law that degrades human personality is unjust. We must ask ourselves if quarantining the healthy is in harmony with moral law. We must consider whether destroying people’s livelihoods, keeping them from attending church, and imposing social isolation, especially in the midst of compelling evidence that this virus isn’t a serious threat to otherwise healthy people, is the correct coarse of action.

Pastors and other Christian leaders are called to be countercultural. We are to obey the authority placed over us, but in this country our highest authority is the Constitution, which was primarily written from a Biblical worldview. The Apostle Paul appealed to Caesar in the face of injustice; in America, the equivalent would be to appeal to the Constitution. Our Constitution says that nobody should prohibit the free exercise of religion, of speech, the press, or the right to peaceably assemble (Amendment I). Furthermore, “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Amendment XIV).

Some of you live in open states, and may wonder what all the fuss is about. Churches in Washington State and Minnesota have unjustly been kept from operating, and many still fear government reprisal. This morning, the Chicago mayor was reported to have sent police to shut down a church gathering in her city. Churches, daycares, and small businesses in Kentucky have far too many restrictions to practically operate. Everywhere the mainstream media mafia perpetuates fear and censors informed citizens in an attempt to control the narrative.

Christians, we must not be silent. Pastors, part of your calling is to admonish the flock according to Scripture and to equip us for participation in all spheres of life, including the media and the government. Please challenge us to speak into the culture, rather than to assimilate. Please give us permission not to be nice, but rather to be holy and effective at fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Please activate us in the spiritual war that has the whole world in its grip. Please don’t sit down and shut your doors. Please don’t bow to those who rule unjustly, no matter how “well-intentioned” they may seem. Please bow only to God, and refuse to allow His commands to be twisted into irrelevance.

In the words of Dr. King, “it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends … it is just as wrong, or even more, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” Let us be neither complacent, nor arrogant. Let us not use our liberty as an excuse for sin, but also let us not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. We were bought with a price. It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Let us walk in that freedom, for the good of our country and our fellow countryman.

Conspiracy … or Prophecy?

dscf2042By Heather Walton

I’m not afraid to admit that I sound like a conspiracy theorist. Isn’t a conspiracy simply a secret plan by a group of people to do something harmful or to cover something up, or both? There seems to be a decent basis for this kind of thing going on right now.

Today there are many people inside and outside the church arguing about things like government overreach, vaccines, civil disobedience, masks, social distancing, governors, and the list goes on. But soon arguments will likely cease. The government is making arrangements to ensure that a vaccine is fast tracked and that everybody gets it. I’m not just talking about the U.S. government. There are many global players with common connections who are working on this effort. The United Nations is working on an initiative to bring about world peace by the year 2030. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a small army of organizations working on vaccines that will ironically help the world to be less populated. (Does it seem counterintuitive that those who want to bring the population down are both asking us to stay at home to protect each other AND working on a vaccine to keep us from getting something that actually could take the world population down?) We are told that such a vaccine may be available by the end of 2020 and that the military is going to help get it out. Not only that, but in the meantime, we have contact tracers to help identify those with the virus and everybody they’ve been in contact with, so that all of those people who’ve potentially been infected can be tracked down, quarantined, and tested. And those who resist may be required by additional means. Those who can’t stay at home may even be separated from their families, even though they’ve already been around their families, who also will have to quarantine until they can be proven to not be infectious. There’s a lot about this pandemic that doesn’t make sense.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be considerate of others, not by any means. I’m not saying that, if you feel you need to stay home, wear a mask, or take other precautions, that you’re living in fear and that you’re doing something wrong. If you’re in a risk group or otherwise feel you need to do this, then that is your right, and I don’t fault you for it. But I believe, if you’re in a high-risk group, you probably already were used to taking some of these kinds of precautions. And if you’re in a high-risk group and you don’t want to take those precautions, for whatever reason, I also respect your rights. I don’t say any of this to downplay how difficult this is on high-risk groups.

But given the fact that the mortality numbers do not appear to be substantially higher than other, similar infections, and that the overall death rate does not seem to have skyrocketed, and that the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths have been in people with comorbidities that would likely have been fatal when combined with other common infections, and that the majority of the population does not have significant risk of mortality or severe infection, the government’s response does not add up.

Unless, of course, it does.

If you’re trying to get a group of people to combine efforts, one of the best tactics is to identify a common enemy. If you’re trying to get all people everywhere to combine efforts, the enemy can’t be human. What better way to unite people than with a global health emergency?

How many of us have heard something along the lines of, “We’re all in this together,” or “We’re going to get through this together?” Everyday our governor says, and asks everyone (at home) to say this with him: “We’re going to get through this, and we’re going to get through this together.” I thought it was his thing, until I realized that it’s all over the place. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “We are in this together – and we will get through this, together.” Not a bad sentiment,  but we really aren’t all in this together; instead we are social distancing, sequesters in our homes and getting most of our information from media, many of whom are literally reading from the same script.

But, I’m starting to believe the powers of this world mean it when they say “we’re all in this together,” as in “let’s all collaborate internationally on a solution to this pandemic, and while we’re at it, let’s just make some kind of massive worldwide collaborative organization to ensure we are prepared for whatever situation comes up next … Oh yeah, and we might as well make sure Bill Gates has a lot to say about whatever we come up with. After all, he’s obviously a medical expert.”

Why is this a problem? In Revelation, we are told that the end times will include one world government. God repeatedly told people to scatter and fill the earth. When they tried to remain united at Babel, He confused their language so that they would have to disburse. Now, because of their pride and atheism, they conspire to unite in defiance of God and what He stands for. Instead of seeking God in prayer and asking Him to deliver us from this worldwide emergency, they believe they have it under control and that they know better than God, that indeed they are god.

So now we Americans have had a compelling reason to give up the majority of our rights, our previously booming economy has been functionally destroyed, churches have been moved online, and we are preparing to start giving names of those we’ve been around in the past two weeks if we’ve tested positive. There are even apps for identifying contacts now.

On March 14, 2020, did any of us question the fact that the world seemed to change overnight? Yes, some did, but I think most of us didn’t. We believed the measures taken were necessary and would be short-term. Who among us really thought we would be looking forward to a promised “new normal” months or years from now? Who among us thought we would be wearing masks, social distancing, turning in names of our neighbors for “infractions,” doing school at home, and looking at the possibility of people being removed from their homes until there’s a vaccine and everybody gets it? Who among us expected the military to be involved in distributing this vaccine? Who among us expected churches to be blamed for spreading the virus?

Who among us thought we would ever hear a judge say, “During public health crises, new considerations come to bear, and government officials must ask whether even fundamental rights must give way to the deeper need to control the spread of infectious disease and protect the lives of society’s most vulnerable” (Judge John Mendez of California). My understanding is that fundamental rights are fundamental, and therefore non-negotiable. But it doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

The world is just unpredictable enough these days that if a bunch of people were suddenly to disappear, and the government told you it was an alien abduction, you might just be tempted to believe it. Maybe it’s not aliens, but there would be some kind of semi-plausible explanation that most people wouldn’t have believed a couple months ago. If in the next few months or years a lot of people are suddenly gone, and you notice that all those people had the common denominator of an unusual degree of allegiance to Jesus Christ, please consider that perhaps the answer is in prophecy, rather than conspiracy.

The Bible tells of an event most Christians refer to as “the rapture.” Luke 17 tells of a day when two people will be together and suddenly one will be gone. We are told that the man of lawlessness will be revealed after the one who holds him back is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). The one who holds him back is presumed to be the Holy Spirit, which inhabits every true follower of Christ. In order for the Holy Spirit to be withdrawn, it stands to reason that believers will be gone. The Bible tells of a time when people will have to get a certain mark in order to buy or sell. Clearly, our world is set up for such a possibility in the near future. Believers are not to take this mark, and people who take it are showing their allegiance to the antichrist, and will not be able to change their minds.

Believers are commanded to stand firm, to be steadfast, during this time, to spread the Gospel, and to disciple others (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; Matthew 28:16-20: Romans 10:9-13). Unbelievers need to repent, choose to trust Jesus as Lord, and spread the Gospel.

It’s not too late. Someday it will be, and that day will come upon us quickly, whether by natural death, rapture, or Jesus’ second coming. We don’t know the day or the hour for end times prophecy to be fulfilled, but we are told we should know the season (Matthew 24). It’s the season — be ready.

If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, you can do that right now. This takes an honest and genuine acknowledgement that you are a sinner, that you can’t do enough good deeds to be right with God because He is holy and we are unholy, that you need Him to save you, and that you are willing to follow Him and allow Him to govern your life. Baptism is the outward expression of this inward decision and should be done publicly and by immersion, in an act of obedience, submission, and testimonial to others. You also should read the Bible, pray, gather with other believers, and obey God’s commands, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for salvation, a desire to grow in your relationship with God, and in hopes of winning others to the Lord. If you have any questions about that, reach out to a believer you know, begin fellowship with a local church, and/or reach out by filling out the contact form below. 

We Have Sinned

sad woman 1Dear Lord,

You have said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).”

Father, we, your children, have sinned. We, the church, have abdicated our responsibility to speak into the culture, preferring to blend in instead. We have allowed the religion of secular humanism to infiltrate our culture. We have allowed our children to be carried off to “Babylon,” a culture that says, “I am, and there is no other (Isaiah 47:8).” We have allowed ourselves to become complacent and entitled, believing that the world exists to serve us. We have devalued human life of many kinds, allowing the unborn to be slaughtered, the immigrant to be mistreated, those of other races to be abused, and the disabled to be devalued.

We have voted for people according to economics, rather than character. We have taken your Word and prayer out of our schools and the public square. We have given lip service to prayer. We have neglected to disciple our children according to your Word.

We have forgotten our first love, and have grown cold and self-absorbed. We have bowed down to many idols, including money, power, ease, comfort, and pleasure. We spend more time on our phones and computers than on in-person relationships. We have allowed our society to become sexualized and violent. We see people as objects. We play games, watch movies, and listen to music full of sex and gratuitous violence. We waste much of our time on mindless entertainment. We have allowed our children to absorb it all.

We lie to one another, cheat each other, steal from each other, and talk badly about each other. Instead of going directly to each other in loving confrontation of sin, we gossip and slander. We justify ourselves under the guise of venting or making prayer requests.

We no longer value marriage and family. Instead, we stand by and watch as others trample these institutions that were entrusted to us by God. We worry that if we speak up we will seem intolerant or culturally irrelevant.

We shrink back from boldly declaring your Word, and blindly believe that we must not speak up because of the supposed “separation of church and state.” We prefer to offend You, our creator and just judge, rather than risk offending our fellow man. We turn a blind eye to others who claim to be Christian while living like the world.

We have allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep by the design of secular humanists, and have given the sleeping potion to our children by allowing them to attend schools that teach them that You don’t exist, or that if you do, You are irrelevant. We have allowed them to be given atheistic sex education and taught that they descended from primordial goo. We have allowed them to be programmed to follow their hearts and to do whatever makes them happy, “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” What about You, Lord? Sin hurts You. You gave us Your Son, who lived perfectly and died a horrific death for these very sins. His death and resurrection alone save us, yet we flippantly allow His Name to be used as a common curse word. We don’t even flinch anymore when Your Name is taken in vain.

We have forsaken Your design for marriage. We have created unstable families for our children. We have preferred to make a name for ourselves than to invest personally in our children. We have not corrected our children’s disobedience.

We have created idols of athletes, actors, musicians, and philanthropists. We have enthroned people who have money, power, and influence, regardless of their faith, values, or actions. We have dismissed scandals in our leaders, because we idolize the economy and pragmatically vote for Supreme Court nominations. We overlook character defects in favor of policies. We have created false messiahs in our government officials. We have not called those into account who claim to follow You, minimizing their sin, because we believe they are benefitting us.

We sit by, fattening ourselves up on our riches, while much of the world lives in unfit conditions, and many are marginalized, mutilated, and slaughtered. We believe we are entitled to live long and prosper, neglecting to consider that much of the world truly must pray for their daily bread. We believe we deserve honor and abundance while others languish in life and die without Christ.

We have bought into the lie that government can solve our problems. We have tried to treat this worldwide crisis as something we can solve with the right brain power, techniques, policies, and vaccines. But we cannot! We need you to heal our land. We need you to heal the coronavirus, but more than that, we need you to heal our pride, our obstinacy, our apathy, our faithlessness, and our selfishness. We need you to heal our families, our government, our schools and our churches.

I need You to heal me. We all need You to heal us. We are so independent, self-sufficient, and content in our sin that have a form of godliness but we deny your power (2 Timothy 3:5).

You have said, “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure (James 4:2-3).

Lord, where our motives are tainted, purify us. I pray for a revival, the likes of which the world has never seen. I pray that we would wake up from our slumber so that the “new normal” we keep hearing about is Your new normal. I pray You defeat the enemy and his purposes, that many more may come to know You and to glorify Your Name. I pray you have mercy on us for our great sins, for the sake of those who don’t yet know you, and for the sake of Your glorious Name.

You are the Great I Am, the First and the Last, the Living God. We are your people. We humble ourselves. We ask you to heal our land.

On behalf of the church in America, I ask this in Jesus Precious and Holy Name, Amen!

If you would like to add to this prayer, you may post it in the comments. Any other comments will not be posted, as this is a prayer addressed to the Lord. This post is not for airing opinions or arguments. If you do not know the Lord and would like to turn your life over to Him, and have questions about that, or want to leave a comment for me, please fill out the contact form below.  

 

Obedience and Justice: An Open Letter to All Who Follow Jesus Christ

20170804_163841Dear Church,

There are many opinions and divisions today among us. Some of them are due to personal preferences and simply illuminate the diversity of the people God created. Others simply should not be. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:27-29)”

As those who profess Jesus as Lord (meaning master, one who is in charge), we should strive to live as He lived (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus gave up His rights when he became man (Philippians 2:5-11). He did so for our benefit. We also should be willing to give up our rights for the benefit of others.

I should not exert my rights simply because I can. However, I am called to fight for the rights of those who cannot fight for theirs. I am called to stand against injustice (Proverbs 6:16-19; Proverbs 24:11-12; Nehemiah 4:4-5; Psalm 94:1-7, 20-23; Isaiah 10:1-3; Revelation 6:10). Sometimes that means participating in civil disobedience.

I know that there have been many in the Bible and church history who disobeyed the earthly authorities, but it was because the alternative was to disobey God. So I have to ask, with each executive order and law issued in our state and in our country, am I being asked to disobey God? For example, I don’t think I’m being asked to disobey God to wear a mask, but I may very well be disobeying Him if I don’t sing in church (Ephesians 5:19). As much as I don’t like the thought of it, I don’t think I’m disobeying God to submit to a temperature check, but I definitely believe I would be disobeying to take a vaccine that was developed with fetal stem cells and/or was accompanied by a chip, mark, or other detection system.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t protest and petition the government, because I think we should, but I know we are to do it respectfully. I see too many Christians being disrespectful to governing officials. We are called to kindness (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). We are called to submission, so that we may glorify God to the unbelievers (“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12). We are told to be unified as believers and to let our gentleness be known to all, because the Lord is near (Phil. 4:5). I believe He is very near. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

I’m definitely open to insights about all of this. I know I don’t have all of the right answers, because I’m fallible and because this question is downright baffling. Experts don’t agree and the Bible doesn’t specifically address our current situation. I hope that, in the midst of our varying perspectives, we can be united as believers, because the world is watching.

In Christ’s Love,

Heather Walton

 

 

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