COVID thoughts

I speak from deep concern.

COVID-19 is an absolutely real disease that absolutely affects real people in our counties, states, country, and world every single day. It was not invented for the US Election. Its effects on the human body have generally not been exaggerated for the sake of impacting an election.

The cure (secluding ourselves and wearing masks for now) is unequivocally not worse than the disease. The disease kills between 1 and 3% of those who bear it. Do not dare to say “only.” These 1-3% are 874,369 image bearers of God worldwide, 78% of which are not in the United States. The people from these countries mostly do not care who gets elected in the US and whether your high school is playing sports or whether you have to wear a mask inside the gas station.

If you live in a county that has has less than one case per month, I completely understand how you feel that the reaction to the global pandemic is ruining your everyday life. This is why I am a strong proponent of government being conducted at the most local level possible. This leads to the feeling that the suffering of wearing masks and canceling events is worse than the disease. Please do not ignore what is happening outside your local community. My own county has watched 120 of its citizens die of this particular illness since April.

There are 17,717,266 people who have survived the disease. Many may never be bothered by it again. However, many will experience complications (blood clots, weakness, shortness of breath) for an unforeseen time period to come.

COVID-19 will more deeply affect communities that are more physically close together and have a higher rate of prior medical conditions. This leads to more cases in blue states than red states, mostly due to population density. It is generally true that Democrats expect the government to do more to stop the spread and Republicans expect government to stop intervening so much (in this issue). This combined effect of blue states being harder-hit and more likely to intervene may lead to the sharper contrast with the red states that have fewer cases per capita and are less likely to restrict activity. It further explains the outrage when red states that are badly affected (Mississippi) under-react.

I pray for a cure. Could our government “make the vaccine available now?” Yes. It could let us all take whatever drugs we wanted to if they so-chose. I bet there are a lot of people who would let themselves be a test subject for these “vaccines.” There would also be side effects and unexpected impacts of these drugs. There is a testing and approval process for these things which is rocketing forward at great speed. When there is a good vaccine available, it will be made available. The timing of the US election be damned. I fear there is a vocal portion of the population that is clamoring for a vaccine to be made available in the next month that would not take it in the next month if it were made available in the next month.

The disease is not political. The response is political. We have turned an illness that does not care what our opinions may be into another reason to be divided and hateful. This particular tragedy, a tragedy of hatred, has eternal consequence.

What do I want? I want reason to return. Divorce yourself from your favorite politician. Look at data. Look at the biblical love for life and health. Let your decisions come from a place of love, of protecting and caring for widows and orphans, a place of wisdom. If your favorite politician is a fool, do not support them. If your second-, or least-, favorite politician is a fool, do not support them.

Fast and pray.


Political Party Platforms in the United States

I had the thought that this could be a helpful resource. Each of these parties (except one) has sufficient ballot access to theoretically obtain 50 electoral votes. They are listed alphabetically.

Alliance party

American Solidarity party

Constitution party

Democratic party

Green party

Libertarian party

Party for Socialism and Liberation

Republican party

Jesus wants YOU! (Luke 18:31-43)

Intro: I asked my kids to help me think of an example of a time they weren’t listening or I wasn’t listening. They said, “what?”


[Luk 18:31-34 ESV] 31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See[!], we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And [after] flogging [him], they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp [comprehend] what was said.

[Luk 18:35-43 ESV] 35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him,

Thesis: Jesus is not just hiding out, waiting for us to bother him until he decides to come back. He is seeking us and wants to hear our needs.

Think of the context of the earlier parts of Luke 18.

  1. Jesus wants to prepare us, even if we can’t understand
    1. We have seen this in context (preparing for his coming [by being humble], accepting the kingdom as a child, meaninglessness of keeping property).
    2. He is a prophet par excellence
      1. [Mat 27:26-31 ESV] 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
    3. Here, he wants the disciples to understand, if not now, then later.
      1. This is not just a Jerusalem trip. This is the one in which everything will be accomplished.
        1. He had been speaking to large crowds, answering questions. Now he pulls the twelve aside, out of the crowd, and warns them of what’s to come. This is it. There are no future trips. This is the one that is the culmination of the prophets.
      2. We are also aware that Judas is with him, and this would surely later resonate in his mind.
    4. The disciples do not understand. Why?
      1. This saying was hidden (concealed) from them
        1. [Mat 11:25 ESV] 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;”
      2. Matthew Henry “Their prejudices were so strong that they would not understand them literally, and they could not understand them otherwise, so that they did not understand them at all. “
        1. Henry goes on to warn that we too quickly accept the promises of God regarding the “glorious state of the church in the latter days. But we overlook its wilderness, sackcloth state.” In Acts, we see the Paul and Barnabas reminding others that “[Act 14:22 NIV] “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,”
        2. Isaiah warns: Isaiah 30:9-10 (NCV) These people are like children who lie and refuse to obey; / they refuse to listen to the Lord’s teachings. / They tell the seers, / “Don’t see any more visions!” / They say to the prophets, / “Don’t tell us the truth! / Say things that will make us feel good; / see only good things for us.’
      3. They didn’t have to understand in order to be able to follow him
  2. Jesus wants us to cry out in hope
    1. The road to and from Jericho. There are similar stories in the other gospels. It is no surprise that this road is known for beggars and robbers. Think of the story of the good Samaritan told earlier.
    2. This is a place for the hopeless to gather.
      1. We are not told why Jesus is going to and from Jericho, but he is aware of the people on the way. Likewise, the blind man is aware in the changing cacophony of his environment. (He inquired what this meant)
      2. We should be aware that Christ is near and wants to do for us.
      3. Remember the story of the unjust judge he just told? He wants to hear our needs!
    3. Hear his cry, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” … But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
      1. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. Deliverance of Jah, Messiah-king, have mercy.
      2. We are reminded of the tax collector in the recent parable.
      3. Maybe we think we are not in need like this man? Jesus says [Jhn 9:41 ESV] 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
      4. Admit our blindness and need for his mercy! This is accepting the kingdom of God as a child.
  3. Jesus wants to make us whole
    1. Your faith has saved/delivered/rescued you (from the ailment). This is what faith does, makes people whole (KJV). This is not “mere health.”
    2. Look at how many connections there are between health and the forgiveness of sin!
      1. [Jas 5:14-16 ESV] 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
      2. [Isa 53:5 NIV] 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
      3. [1Pe 2:24 ESV] 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
      4. [2Ch 7:14 ESV] 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
      5. [Psa 41:4 ESV] 4 As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
      6. [Hos 14:4 NIV] 4 “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.
      7. [Mat 9:2, 5-6 ESV] 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” … 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he then said to the paralytic–“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
    3. All physical healing is temporary, but Jesus knows the huge impact it can have on our minds and spirits. We are not disconnected but need to give our whole selves over to him.
    4. Resurrection is the final healing.

Conclusion:   Every miracle is followed by a funeral. Every funeral is followed by a resurrection.

-Pray that we’re driven by faith and not fear.
-Pray for people who have been impacted by this virus around the world.
-Pray for our missionary family and global partners.
-Pray for the Church to seize ministry opportunities.
-Pray Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

A message on racism for kids

Me: Kids, what questions do you have about today’s sermon?

Kid2: What was the R word he kept saying?

Me: Was it “racism” or “reconciliation?” You know what–let me tell you about both. Do you know what “race” is?

Kid3: When you run fast?

Me: Well, you’re not wrong. There is another meaning. Kid 1? What do you think?

Kid1: When you drive fast?

Me: OK, also not wrong. There is another meaning. It is kind of related to what country or part of the world people’s ancestors are from. Our parents, parents, parents, etc., mostly came from England or Germany. This means we are usually called white or Caucasian. Other people may have ancestors from other parts of the world. That is their “nationality.” It can also be their “ethnicity.” “Race” is based on color of skin and ancestry. People are sometimes called “white” or “black” or “Hispanic” based on what part of the world their ancestors came from and the color of their skin. We have some friends who have parents from different races. Oddly, those kids will probably grow up being called black even though only one of their parents is. Isn’t that silly?

So now that you know a little of what race is, “racism” is when you think that someone of a different race is “less than” you because they are of a different race. It is also when you don’t treat someone fairly because they have a different race. Wouldn’t that be horrible?

Kids: Yes!

Me: Our minds do a strange thing. We might want to treat someone worse because they are different from us in some way. But, what are the two greatest commandments?

Kid1: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!

Me: and the second one is like it…

Kid1: Love your neighbor as yourself!

Me: Who is our neighbor? [silence] Someone asked Jesus this question when he gave those commandments. What was his answer? [silence] He answered with a story…

Kid1: The Good Samaritan!

Me: Yes! It is a story of a Jew who was badly hurt and a Samaritan who helped him. The Samaritan did not look the same, did not believe the same, and probably did not talk the same as the Jew, but who was the neighbor?

Kids: the Samaritan

Me: Right. We think of the neighbor as the person who lives in the next house over, but the neighbor can be someone who does not look like, sound like, or believe like us. We are supposed to love them like we love us! Can we treat people of other races badly and love them like ourselves at the same time?

Kid3: [after some thought] No!

Me: Is there anyone in the world who isn’t in the image of God?

Kids: No!

Me: Right, every single person is in God’s image. The letter of James reminds that our tongues might do a strange thing: we praise God, then insult or make fun of people made in the image of God. Does that make sense?

Kid3: Yes [what I said made sense], but that is weird.

Me: Yes it is. Now, let’s talk about the other R word, “reconciliation.” Kid1, can you hear the prefix?

Kid1: Re

Me: yes, what does that mean?

Kid1: again

Me: you got it. Now let’s find the root word. council, like a group of people. To re-council (reconcile), we are bringing people together, again.

We also talked about another word: ministry. It means to serve. Like in the government of other countries, they talk about having a “ministry” in the government, rather than just a “department.” Ministry is a way to serve people.

So, what does it mean to have a “ministry of reconciliation?” It means to serve people and to serve God by bringing people together to Him. Our mission and purpose is to bring people back to God again. Are you excited?

Kids: Yes!

Change the World

I apologize for any amount of plagiarism that may show up here. None of these thoughts is original, but they have been floating around in my mind of late.

We will never be able to vote the world into a better state than we find our own heart.

We cannot expect more righteousness from the world than we are willing to live ourselves.

We cannot expect peace in the world until we have peace in our own hearts.

If we believe in the Holy Spirit, then we believe in prayer because we know he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Therefore, prayer is action.

We will never find reconciliation unless we are firstly able to forgive everyone who has wronged us and secondly able to forgive everyone who has wronged people like us.

Let us be thankful for our enemies as they are more willing to speak the truth about us than our friends are.

If we can make it through an entire day without condemning someone in our hearts, we are probably saints (worthy of a holiday), and we probably won’t even notice it happened.

It is impossible to love God and hate those made in his image.