Tag Archives: Christian faith

Don’t Mess With My Freedom to be Stupid

I’m curious how people think this pandemic will end. Especially those who refuse the vaccine and are convinced that masks and distancing are ineffective. What do they expect is going to happen to cause this thing to go away? Four and a half million people have already died worldwide from this virus that many expected to be no worse than the common flu. The numbers of infections and deaths continue to increase in the U.S. and are at the worst point. How will this end?

I decided to research how past pandemics ended, and it’s not a pretty sight. In the 6th century, a plague started in Egypt and spread across the Mediterranean into Europe. In North Africa, Asia, Europe, and Arabia, an estimated 30 to 50 million people died, as much as half the world’s population. The only thing people knew to do was avoid sick people. Somehow the pandemic just ended as apparently those who survived had some kind of immunity.

I hear that’s what many people expect today that a large number will have natural immunity and suffer mild symptoms at most. Yet, think about half the population dying. That would be 130 million people in the U.S. It doesn’t seem like an acceptable conclusion to me. Yet when people refuse to do anything to stop the virus, they’re living like those in the 6th century.

However, the plague returned 800 years later and hit Europe in the mid-14th century. This time 200 million died in just four years. It was known as the Black Death. Although they had no understanding of viruses and being contagious, they realized it had something to do with close contact, so they invented the concept of quarantine. The word “quarantine” originates from the word “four” and referred to 40 days.

The virus did not disappear and reared its ugly head in London every decade for the next three centuries. With each new plague, 20% of the population died. The final and perhaps the worst to hit London was in 1665, wiping out 100,000. Victims were locked in their homes for isolation with red crosses painted on their door. Apparently, they accomplished enough isolation to bring the outbreak to an end.

Smallpox originated in Europe, Asia, and Arabia, killing 30% of the people infected, but the worst devastation was experienced by the native populations when it was carried across the ocean in the 15th century by European explorers. There was no natural immunity, and they died by the millions. Over a period of 100 years, as much as 95% of the indigenous population of Mexico died. A couple of centuries later, smallpox was eradicated by a vaccine (go figure).

Cholera killed thousands in the 19th century. However, an enterprising doctor in London determined the source was the drinking water from one source. He was able to isolate the problem, and it disappeared. This led to a movement among the entire world to practice better sanitation.

None of these pandemics ended well. People were left with their own devices and hope that they might be the ones with natural immunity. These were the predecessors of those today who want to be left to their own devices when it comes to avoiding COVID. I guess they think they have immunity, or it will simply disappear before it gets to them. Some claim to be trusting God, but that’s not how God works.

Today I saw a Facebook post from a woman (I hate to admit I actually know this woman) who said she preferred risking her children’s life to having them live in tyranny. This John Henry-like call to arms is foolish. Her choice doesn’t need to be death or tyranny. The choice is death or wearing a mask for a few hours a day for a few months.

If people are willing to discount science, it should not be surprising that they live as did our 15th-century ancestors. Of course, they need to be reminded that the lifespan in those days was 33 years. This woman needs not to worry too much longer since both her children are approaching that age. Perhaps the livestock medicine might give them a few extra years.

Come on people. It’s time to stop being stupid. The pandemic is not going to disappear on its own. There will not be some magic hurricane that hits the Gulf Coast and blows the virus to the frozen north. The “do nothing” approach of some of our politicians will accomplish exactly that—nothing.

The tragedy is that the stupidity will take others with them. After all, it is a virus, and when you refuse to do your part, others are exposed. Oh well, no need to care for others as long as we can maintain our own freedom.

The argument that wearing a mask means giving up freedom is bogus.

This afternoon, Sharon dragged me to the big Kroger up the road since she had a hankering for donuts. She enticed me by telling me I didn’t even need to get out of the car. A few minutes of crowd watching is not a bad thing, and it wasn’t too hot, so I went for the ride. There were too many to count, but I estimate 35 to 40 percent of people going in and out of Kroger were wearing masks.

Although they had the freedom to choose, they did not have the freedom to go in without a shirt or shoes, which they all wore appropriately. What’s the difference? I’m sure some people would like to be barefoot, and a few others would like the coolness of not wearing a shirt (although one of the reasons I don’t like going into the Kroger is because it’s always freezing cold inside).

The rule about shoes and shirts is not because people don’t want to see your fabulous feet and beautiful boobs. The reason for these rules is because the health department would shut them down if they had a bunch of topless and shoeless shoppers. Freedom lost! What’s the difference?

The moment you choose to participate in a community, you surrender rights. Not all of them, of course, but some. If we all held on to every right and freedom, it would be anarchy. Ancient Israel is described as a nation where everyone did what was right in their own eyes. It’s a recurring theme in the Book of Judges; when they would fall away from God, God sent punishment and a Judge to bring them back, over and over. The last words of the book indicate this failure – “everyone did as they saw fit.”

“God be damned! My neighbors be damned! My health and my own family be damned! I’m going to do what I am free to do.”

If that’s what you want, none of us are long for this world. This pandemic will end like those before. Hundreds of millions of people will die before the virus runs its course. If that’s good enough for you as long as you don’t have to surrender any more rights (other than shoes, and shirts, and seatbelts, and traffic laws, and parking restrictions, and paying taxes, and…, and…, and) then rip off your mask, take off your shoes and shirt, and get on with it.

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Why You Should Not Vote in the Presidential Election

Many years ago, my father was driving in the mountains of Colorado. As he rounded a corner, he was confronted with a large truck coming toward him in his lane. Apparently, the truck was trying to pass another vehicle and stayed in the oncoming lane too long. My father reported that he was forced to decide between the lesser of two terrible options. He could smash the oncoming truck head-on, or he could steer off the road and plummet down the side of the mountain. If you have ever driven in the Colorado mountains you are aware it is not like driving into the bar ditch in west Texas.

He chose the lesser of the two, and fortunately his car was halted by the pine trees about a hundred feet down the cliff. He lived to tell the story.

Sometimes life forces us to make a choice between two bad things, and the result is going to be unpleasant no matter what choice we make.

Many people are feeling that way about the upcoming presidential election—there is not a good choice. Approval ratings for both candidates are at historic lows and are destined to get worse after five more months of name calling, mudslinging, and third-grade behavior that is characteristic of this year’s campaign.DontVoteButton

Each candidate has a small hard-core group of voters who wave their flag obnoxiously high, but for the most part, you hear people say, “I could never vote for..,.” and they name one of the candidates. More people are voting against someone this year than the number of people who are voting for someone.

Much of the campaign rhetoric consists of saying, “if this person is elected terrible things will happen to our country.” I get it. We have two bad choices. I feel like my father must have felt as he steered his Buick over the edge of the cliff—he didn’t have a better choice.

But, we do have options. I’m not talking about a miraculous final month by Bernie Sanders or an out-of-nowhere Republican savior. There are some legitimate options that keep us from being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

The most obvious option is that when you go to vote you will find other candidate’s names on the ballot. As of the first of June, 1,751 folks had filed the paperwork necessary to be considered a candidate for President. Obviously, you will not have to read through hundreds of names while in the voting booth since most of those people will have long departed the race, but there will be other names for consideration. Continue reading

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Biblical Response to Climate Change, Same-Sex Marriage, and Other Important Stuff

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.  And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:27-31)

His first moment of self-consciousness was an amazing experience.  He was already fully grown, no childhood to rely on.  The world was pristine.  His eyes saw nothing but the wonder of God’s creation, freshly formed by the Word of God Himself.

This very first man, Adam, would be a great interview for any reporter.  He possessed knowledge that has baffled all of us.  I don’t know about you, but I would really like to know what it was like to be the first human being.  Imagine waking up on that initial day, and finding yourself thrust into a beautiful garden filled with perfection. Bible

As Adam focused his eyes on that original morning of life, the sun illuminated a sight that had never been seen by another human being.  He was the first person to see the world that God had created.  Rolling hills covered with flourishing green grass; trees laden with plump fruit shimmering with drops of water from the morning dew; the golden sun against the brilliant blue backdrop of the daylight sky; he experienced it all.

If anyone ever had an identity crisis, it was Adam.  His first thoughts had to be, “Who am I?” and “What am I doing here?”  He had not memory, no language, no history, no relationships.  He was just there.  In the most beautiful place ever created, he found himself all alone.

He was not all alone, really.  God was there.  It was God’s custom, during the cool of the day, to spend time with His new creation.  It happened so often that Adam recognized the sound of God moving through the garden (see Genesis 3:8).  This relationship between God and Adam was a picture of intimacy – the Creator and His creation enjoying one another without any barriers.

Perhaps it was during these times together that God noticed something missing from Adam.  He realized that it was not good for Adam to be alone (see Genesis 2:18) so He decided to act.  First, He paraded all the animals that populated the garden in front of Adam for close inspection.  Adam studied them and named them, which must have been astonishing afternoon, exceeding any experience at the zoo that we can imagine.

It was apparent to both God and Adam that none of the creatures could fill the empty void in Adam’s life.  No animal, in spite of its perfection or uniqueness, had the ability to be partner to the crowing glory of God’s creation.  God had to do something.

Continue reading

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The Tenacity of Racism

When we elected an African-American President I anticipated changes for the good in race relations. It has not happened. It seems that race relations are now worse. Why is that?

I haven’t done any kind of study, but it seems there are more racially caused riots, crimes with a racial component, and a greater number of racial comments in social media. Having a black President has not brought us closer together.

I think the problem is that having a black President has revealed a rampant racism that many of us thought had ceased to exist, yet it is still there. Let me explain this by telling about my own experience from many years ago.Monkey

I grew up in Denver and went to High School in the north part of the city. The school was located in an industrial area, and the student body was an eclectic mix of numerous races and ethnic backgrounds. The junior college I attended was just down the road, and it was no different. That was my world. I thought racial prejudice had ended after the work of Martin L. King, Jr. I was pretty naïve.

The college I graduated from was in West Texas where there was only one race so it did nothing to change my perception. However, I then went to seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Big change! To be honest, I was shocked to learn that churches still did not allow blacks to attend, or that schools, in spite of laws, were still segregated. I told you I was naïve.

Nearly four decades later we elect a black man to be President, and once again I thought we had made progress, but we haven’t.

Racism is the only way I can explain the anger, hatred, and vitriol people have toward the President. I completely understand political differences of opinion. I am even on board with passionate arguments in support of your beliefs and opinions. It is great when we have opposing viewpoints; that is how we experience creativity. But what I see and hear directed toward the President goes far beyond differences of opinion. Continue reading

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Phil Robertson and the Dissolution of Christian Evangelism

A while back I wrote an article titled, “Dave Ramsey and the Dissolution of Church Stewardship.” The point of the article was not that Dave Ramsey was destroying stewardship. The church has lost the true meaning of stewardship, and Dave Ramsey is merely a symptom. Now, he has certainly taken advantage of the church’s situation to make a fortune for himself, but he did not originate the problem.

I intend to make a similar case for Christian evangelism. However, in this case, one of the symptoms that reveals there is a problem within the church is Phil Robertson.

Phil Robertson made his reputation and fortune as a duck hunter. He created and sold millions of duck calls, and then turned it into a multi-faceted business. However, I hope he is a better duck hunter than he is an evangelist for the Christian faith.Duck Call

Before I get started, let me confess that I am not a hunter. I have never been hunting, and I have never fired a gun. I have been fishing a few times, but the last time ended with a trip to jail, so I am certainly no expert on that either.

But, here is what I think I know about duck hunting. One approach is for a hunter to hide in the weeds, or a duck blind, and wait for the ducks to fly by so he can shoot them. In order to precipitate the matter, the hunter might utilize a duck call. The purpose of the duck call is to entice the ducks to come closer to your location by making duck sounds.

Apparently, Robertson developed a duck call that is more effective than most since he has sold millions of them. It might be safe to say, the ducks respond quite positively when the Robertson duck call is used.

Again, I am a novice at this hunting thing, but it seems to me that it would not be a good idea for a hunter to make noises that will scare the ducks away. For example, if you are in the best duck blind, positioned next to the lake with the largest population of ducks, the last thing you would want to do is blast an air horn or play loud music. It would cause you to miss the opportunity for some good hunting. Continue reading

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President Obama’s Faith

I watched the President’s speech yesterday at the 50 year commemoration ceremony in Selma, Alabama. It was a very good speech, one of the best I have ever heard from a politician, bordering on being a Christian sermon. In fact, after it was over, I mentioned to Sharon that it felt like we had just been to church.

After hearing him speak yesterday, and recalling many of his other speeches, it is fascinating how he so effortlessly weaves the words of scripture and Christian hymns into many of his speeches. It is not unusual for many of our Presidents to quote scripture in their speeches; however this President seems to do it with great familiarity of the words.Obama delivers remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama

What has always perplexed me is the way so many people insist that President Obama is not a Christian. He claims to be a Christian, he shares his faith often, he testifies to a conversion experience, he appears to live a lifestyle that is consistent with a Christian faith, and as I said, he seems very comfortable with the Bible. These are all evidence of a genuine faith.

I understand that some of you will suggest I read James 1:19 where we are reminded that even Satan himself believed in God, or you might refer to the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness and remind me that Satan also quoted scripture. But come one, if that is your criteria then none of our claims to be Christian are valid. Continue reading

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