Courage

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Have you ever wondered what is wrong with the human race? How can we continue to hate and hurt each other? You’d think that after a while (several thousand years) we would have learned our lesson…apparently not. The killing of George Floyd this week and the subsequent riots (notice I didn’t say protests) are an indication of the hatred and malice that exist in the human heart. 

When I watch the events taking place on the streets of some of our major cities, I just shake my head. I am saddened by the lack of leadership within the ranks of the rioters and it makes me miss some of my heroes. Take Mahatma Gandhi, for instance. He helped liberate his country from English colonialism. His philosophy of non-violent protest changed an entire nation. It took a lot of courage and character to react non-violently in the face of senseless violence but he became the Father of modern India and an example to the whole world.

Gandhi influenced another of my heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. He also believed in non-violence and through his preaching and example, he was able to lead this country out of the dark ages of racial segregation. It took courage and character to  stand toe to toe with the police but he and his followers were able to do it. They received the respect of the majority of Americans who wanted the insidious doctrine of racial segregation legislated out of existence.

If we want to honor the memory of George Floyd and every other American who was killed unjustly by a police officer, we must behave in a way that commands the respect of the people. The vast majority of Americans were appalled by the murder of George Floyd and were more than anxious to see the perpetrators brought to justice. However, the burning, looting and wanton destruction of property have elicited a different reaction to this tragedy. 

Now, all the American people can see are violent protests and angry mobs pillaging and looting. The tragedy of George Floyd is being obscured by the riots and the spotlight that should be on his death has now been shifted to the angry mobs. Make no mistake, it doesn’t take courage to torch a car or loot a business. It takes opportunism, greed and disrespect for the property rights of others.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. threatened the status quo. Their courage in the face of evil was a shining example of how society could be changed by the practice of non-violent protests. The agitators who are leading the violent protests will not change society; they will only leave a wave of destruction in their path. Nothing will justify their behavior and they are certainly no example of courage or character. 

Image by truthseeker08. Courtesy of Pixabay.

The Race to Create a Covid19 Vaccine

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Have you ever been to the horse races? If you have, you know there is always a tremendous amount of excitement in the air. At times, the air feels almost electric depending on which horses are running. Today, if you are part of the scientific community or big pharma, you can feel that same excitement in the air. The race to create a viable vaccine for Covid19 (SARS-Co2) is on and the winners will soon be announced.

Those entities which come up with the vaccine first and are approved by their governments will receive millions if not billions of dollars. Make no mistake, this race is real and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Within the next several months, more than one company may rollout a viable vaccine. According to an article I read, the hope is to make it available to frontline healthcare workers first, essential workers next and then possibly to the general public. Some are talking about having a vaccine available for children that will use a microneedle. It will leave an invisible mark on the skin that can be read by an infrared scanner. If you are over fifty, there may not be a vaccine available for you in the beginning. Research will have to be done to determine the the safety of giving the vaccine to those with diminished immune systems as those who are over fifty are presumed to have. 

Each person will have to decide if they are going to take the vaccine or not. At the moment, it will be an individual choice but some employers may require it in order to work for their company. Certain vaccines are already required by healthcare agencies and this one may not be an exception. If you want to travel to certain countries, you may be required to have an Immunity Passport in order to cross their border. Germany is already talking about the concept and it could become law in the near future.

If a person is going to take the vaccine, it will be important to find out some information before taking it:

1. Who produced the vaccine and what is in the vaccine made of?

2. Where was the vaccine produced, specifically which country was it produced in?

3. Are there any biomarkers in the vaccine?

4. Will any of the vaccines have an RFID chip in them?

5. What are the possible short-term side effects of the vaccine?

Because the rollout of these vaccines will happen so quickly, no one will know the possible long-term side effects of the vaccines. It will also be difficult to tell how long the immunity will last or if multiple injections will be needed to establish or maintain immunity. Even as many governments are hoping these vaccines will be a silver bullet to protect their populace from Covid19, there are still many questions that need to be answered about them. Each of us should be diligent about doing our research before we take one.

The race is on and the research is going at breakneck speeds. The stakes are high, not only for the producers but for those who will be receiving the vaccines. We will soon hear who has crossed the finish line and will be receiving the prized billions. If I look through my binoculars, I can almost see them nearing the final turn as they race to the finish line. Can you?

The Check Out Line

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Early last week, my step-brother passed away, he checked out. He was younger than I am, and by rights, he shouldn’t have been the first one to die, but he was. I hadn’t seen him for years so I don’t really know where he stood spiritually.  He did however, let me pray for him a few weeks before he passed. The doctors told him he had a limited amount of time and so he had the opportunity to prepare spiritually for his turn in line. They gave him six months to live but it was only two weeks before his name was called at The Check Out Line. 

You see, we are all waiting our turn at The Check Out Line. The Check Out Line is not linear and it seems random at times. You would think the first people in would be the first to check out but The Check Out Line doesn’t work that way. Sometimes those who have been in a relatively short amount of time are the first to go. Since none of us knows exactly when our name will be called, we must ask ourselves the obvious question, “Am I ready to check out?”

Lots of people think they are ready to check out but they aren’t. Those that don’t believe in God or life after death think they are ready. Those that believe that “if they are a good person” think they’re ready. Those that believe we have lots of chances at The Check Out Line think they are ready also…but they are not. The Bible says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. ” Hebrews 9:27-28. 

We all need to make sure we are ready for The Check Out Line. There IS life after death and we must all face Jesus, the righteous Judge of the universe when we check out. He will of course look at what we have done with the lives he gave us but the most important question will be, “What did you do with the free gift of salvation I offered you?” He DID die on the cross for our sins and He offers us eternal life with Him in heaven. If we want to spend eternity with Him, we must choose Him before it is out time to check out.

Madison Avenue – Vanguard for Crass Christmas Commercialism

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Madison Avenue has always been the vanguard for Christmas commercialism. Over the decades, it has moved the cultural needle on Christmas from a religious holiday to one that is secular. I have watched this trend over the years but I was not prepared for what was presented to the public this holiday season. I probably should have seen it coming but I didn’t. Madison Avenue gave us its ultimate goal in crass Christmas commercialism…egocentric giving.

You heard it right. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the majority of commercials on television sent out the message loud and clear. The goal for this season is to give yourself the gift you want. It started with a commercial for a luxury model car. Every person in the commercial had given themselves one for Christmas. Just in case the gullible consumer was not picking up on the message, one man’s car had a tag on it that said : To James, From James. This commercial has continued to air on prime time during the month of December.

The second commercial only lasted a few days. Was there an outcry from the public that it was completely over the top? A woman went into a store and as she passed the kitchen appliance section, she hesitated, then she put one item after another in her cart until it was full. She essentially had spent her entire Christmas budget on herself. Was it too ludicrous for the public to believe? I don’t know, but it was pulled after a few days.

I could give you another example but I know you get the drift. The geniuses on Madison Avenue want us to be completely egocentric in our giving. To say their approach to Christmas is crass is an understatement. There’s not much we can do except contact the company who bought the ad and express our displeasure at the sentiment. 

I for one will reject these not so subtle messages to become egocentric in my giving and I have one word for Madison Avenue this Christmas…REALLY?

Soul Scars

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A week ago, I was changing a bandage on a wound. It was about three weeks old and the scar tissue had begun to form. I thought, “Well, I need to put some alcohol on this to make sure there are no germs there.” I got my bottle of alcohol out of the cupboard, put it on a cotton ball and got ready to feel some real pain as I knew the alcohol would sting. To my surprise, there was no pain. You see, scar tissue does not have any nerve endings when it begins to form. The nerve endings have been cut in the surrounding tissue, and initially, a person feels nothing.

I began to wonder about our soul scars. If someone could see our souls, what would they look like? Would there be wounds that had healed completely and others that were in the process of healing? Would there be wounds that were festering and causing us pain? I think if people could see our souls, they would see all three kinds of wounds.

The most obvious would be the wounds that were still open, still in the healing process. Sometimes life wounds us deeply with the loss of a loved one or some other deeply personal loss. These wounds may take years to heal, and only as our grief is felt or expressed can we truly heal. Tears are a valuable form of therapy with these kinds of wounds as they wash them and keep them clean while they are healing.

The least obvious would be the wounds that have healed and the scars have become part of our soul’s makeup. If you look closely at them, you will see that the area around them is healthy and whole and sometimes the scars have healed so well they are difficult to discern. 

A Soul Physician would be very concerned about the wounds that are still festering, where there is infection. We all have those kinds of wounds whether we realize it or not. They are the wounds that have not been taken care of and no healing balm has been applied to them. Usually the infection has been caused by unforgiveness and a person must purposely set out to do their part in the healing process. 

 Festering wounds must be acknowledged and we must be ready to be healed from them. We must be willing to apply the disinfectant of forgiveness to them and let go of all of our unforgiveness and bitterness. Will there be pain when we lance these kinds of wounds? Yes, they may have been festering for years, but as their purulence is released there will be a peace that takes its place.

Oh, the sweet peace of forgiveness, may it blanket our souls and make us healthy and whole!

“Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who sins against us.” Luke 11:4

Two Soldiers on a Train

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Have you ever been on a train, subway or bus when two soldiers got on? Immediately you feel safer, you just kind of breathe a sigh of relief. There are a few things you know instinctively when you see them. You know they are warriors, well trained in the art of war. You know they will not hesitate to protect the people if there is any kind of problem. You also know they will lay their lives down willingly in order to defend each person from any kind of attack.

They are a good visual for us, making us feel safer. We can see them and even touch them if we are close enough. It’s different with angelic warriors, sent to protect us. We pray and ask God to send His angels to guard us but we are unable to see them and touch them. Are they just as real as the human soldiers we see? Are they as strong and powerful? Indeed, they are.fantasy-3313964_640Image by Stefan Keller. Courtesy of Pixabay.

In Scripture, we read example after example where God sent His angels to protect and defend people, cities and nations from attack. These spiritual beings are not the cute cherubs we see portrayed in art. They are warriors, well able to protect those they watch over. We can be confident when we ask God to send His holy angels to help us that He will do just that. You can count on it.

There is an enlightening story in Scripture. The king of Syria sent his army to Dothan to capture the prophet Elisha. When Elisha’s servant got up in the morning he was afraid when he saw the Syrian army surrounding the city. He asked Elisha what should they do. Elisha answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes  of the young man, and he saw. AND BEHOLD, THE MOUNTAIN WAS FULL OF HORSES AND CHARIOTS OF FIRE ALL AROUND ELISHA. 2 Kings 6: 16-17

Remember: Just because you cannot see something does not mean it is not real. Have faith. You will be surprised what God will do for you!

Strategic

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Historic: The twentieth century was a historic time. After WWI, the geopolitical landscape of the world changed dramatically. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire ruled most the Middle East. Following their defeat, its empire was then ruled by the British. In 1917, Czarist Russia became engulfed in a civil war that ended when the Communists gained control. Sweeping changes again happened after WWII. The Middle East was parceled up into different countries. Chinese culture was upended after their Revolution when the Communists took power. Africa moved from a continent ruled by colonialism to one whose countries were ruled by self-determination. In the 1940’s and 50’s, the Soviet Union began to occupy its neighboring countries. This went on for decades until near the end of the century it broke up and those countries were liberated. Just a cursory glance at world history during those one hundred years show the epic changes that happened on the geopolitical landscape.

Prophetic: From a prophetic standpoint, the single most important event happened in 1948 when Israel became a nation. With its rebirth, the prophetic clock began ticking. Fast forward seventy years and we see political entities lining up in a way that resembles Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 and 39. Add to that the increase of major earthquakes, the moral breakdown of societies, the epic rise of conflicts between nations and ethnic groups and you have a scenario for the birth pangs of Matthew 24. One’s vision does not have to be 20/20 in order to see that we could definitely be living in prophetic times.

Strategic: So what do we do when we believe we are living in historic and prophetic times? How can we make the most of our gifts and talents in order to make a difference in the world we live in? We must learn to think strategically. We must take stock of what we have and pray about how we can best use those resources for the Kingdom of God. Then we can strategically aim our lives towards that eternal goal.