Who’s Pulling the Strings?

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“The Puppet Masters only concern is how well they can manipulate their marionettes.” Steven Redhead

Since about the middle of January, I have been hearing about the Coronavirus outbreak. Towards the end of that month, I heard a molecular biologist talk about the virus. She referenced an article in “The Lancet” published January 24th. That article studied people in Wuhan who had contracted the virus, some of whom had no connection to the wet market.  She also stated that the researchers found that some parts of the RNA sequence of the virus had been genetically manipulated.

I found the article in the Lancet and read it but could not find the information about the genetic mutation of the virus. She may have referred to another article but I missed the reference. Since then, I have heard varying scientists talk about where they believe the virus initiated. Their opinions are varied and I believe many of them are working in good faith. Others, I am not so sure about. What concerns me in the scientific community is the existence of a hidden money trail. Who are the researchers receiving grant monies from and how does that influence their opinions? In other words, who is really pulling the strings? It is a legitimate question and one we should ask when we evaluate the information we are being given. 

“If you have the ability to see the things behind the scenes, then you have the greatest talent one can ever have because there is almost always something else behind the scenes.” Mehmet Murat Idan

As we move forward in the process of dealing with this virus on a societal basis, we need to be able to identify its origins. We will then know what we are really dealing with. Is it a man-made virus or is it a virus that just happened to be transmitted from a horseshoe bat to a human? This virus is exponentially contagious, able to spread around the world in record time, kill our most vulnerable citizens and destroy our economies. We have a responsibility to find out the truth when dealing with something so insidious. 

Science is supposed to be based on facts. Research into the RNA sequence of this virus should produce similar results no matter where the research is done. Unfortunately, after listening to different scientists, that does not seem to be the case. Because of that, we must seek to find out who is pulling the strings so we can know which information is the most reliable. Then we will be in the position to draw informed conclusions.

Bulletproof

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“I thought I was bulletproof or Superman there for a while. I thought I’d never run out of nerve. Never.” Evel Knievel

We’ve all come through the last two months together and now states and countries are starting to open up. Throughout this process, I have noticed several different attitudes towards the Corona Virus. Some people feel they are absolutely bulletproof in regards to COVID19, especially the young. This group may not think about washing their hands after going out in public. Others are concerned, maybe don’t feel entirely bulletproof, but don’t think there is much to worry about. This group is probably washing their hands at the very least. Still others, depending on their age and comorbidity factors, are taking the threat seriously and are washing their hands, social distancing and wearing masks. This group feels the least bulletproof of all.

I don’t know about you, but I have probably been in each of these groups at one time or another during this process. Initially when I was thinking about and praying about it, the Lord gave me a deep peace. I took that to mean that I didn’t have to worry about the virus. I was a bit cavalier about wearing a mask although I did wash my hands after going out in public. About three weeks into the shelter in place order, I ate some fish for dinner that for some reason didn’t agree with me. That evening I was sicker than I had ever been. I felt nauseated the next day and was careful about what I ate for the next week. The lesson here? I was not bulletproof. 

I have no idea what the peace the Lord gave me meant. Was I going to be spared from the virus? Was I going to get it and be healed from it? Was I going to get it and die? I don’t know the answer to those questions but I did begin to take the threat more seriously. I started wearing a mask in public, was more careful about social distancing, washed my hands for a longer period of time and disinfected surfaces when I came in from shopping. To encapsulate my thoughts I give you a quote that I really love:

“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.” Damian Barr

As the country opens up and we are given more freedom, we need to respect each other regarding our response to the threat of this virus. If the median age of death is 82, then the virus has taken many who were a lot older than that. Yes, it has affected some who were younger, but in general the young are pretty much bulletproof. The rest of us, depending on our age and comorbidity factors will have to think about our response going forward as retail stores, salons and airlines open back up. 

What am I going to do? I don’t know. I will just have to move through this process one step at at time and make my decisions from there. I do pray for protection for myself, my family and friends daily and I trust the Lord will take care of each one of us. I will not however, regard myself as bulletproof. What about you? What has your response been to this virus? 

“I returned and saw under the sun that – the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” Eccl. 9:11

Photo by Mike’s Photos. Courtesy of Pixabay!

Shoulders

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“If He carried the weight of the world on his shoulders; brothers and sisters, I know He will carry you.”                                        Scott Wesley Brown

A few weeks ago, I started looking at shoulders. Shoulders, you say? Yes, shoulders. I started looking at the shoulders of our government leaders and I thought about the weight they were carrying on them. They are tasked with promoting the general welfare of the citizens under their authority. This must have been a staggering time for them while dealing with the Covid19 Crisis.

I especially think of one governor I saw on television last week. His state has lost the most people to this disease and he looked shell-shocked. I thought of the sleepless nights he must have spent worrying about those under his care. This disease has left a lot of people at the top feeling helpless in many ways. After all, how do you fight a disease that you don’t yet have a viable treatment for? I also thought about some of the mayors in this country; some of their cities have a greater population than a lot of our states.

There’s not much we can do to help them other than to pray for them. Scripture encourages us to pray for “all in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” All, you might ask if you are a political partisan? Yes all, regardless of political affiliation. But you don’t know who is in charge of our state, you might say to me. That’s right, I don’t. However, the Bible is clear on this issue, “All” apparently means all.  

Before you rush to take another pill for your hypertension, think about it this way. Everyone (all)  in authority needs wisdom, strength and divine guidance. At the time this was written, Romans were under the authority of their Emperors. Some of the Emperors were notoriously cruel, unjust, believed they were divine, and held the power of life and death over their citizens. There was a lot to disagree with the way they governed but believers were instructed to pray for them nonetheless. 

The next time we see one of our government leaders on television, let’s take a closer look at their shoulders and see if we can discern the weight they are carrying on them. May it stir compassion inside of us so that we are motivated to pray for them. Maybe, just maybe, our prayers will help lighten their load a bit. 

Scripture Reference: 1 Timothy 2: 2. Image courtesy of Pixels.

Normal

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“Normal is just a setting on your dryer.” Patsy Clairmont

As the shutdown begins to end, we hear the word “normal” bandied about in practically every newscast. People are setting timelines about when our society will return to “normal.” Others think we will be living with a “new normal.” Still others wonder if our lives will ever return to “normal.” Of course, no one really knows the answers to any of these questions. I certainly don’t, but I would like to share a few observations I made during this abnormal time.

When 9/11 happened, I remember driving to the office late in the morning. I had to stop at the bank before I went and as I walked in, a television was on. The people looked like they were in a daze. No one said anything, they just stared at the television as the scenes played out over and over again. I didn’t sense any fear just bewilderment.  When the Covid 19 crisis hit and we were all faced with a partial shutdown of the economy, the response was different. The first day I went to the grocery store, most of the people had a look of fear on their faces. They were not looking at one another but were furiously shopping trying to fill their carts with the necessities. Except for items that were fresh, i.e. milk, cheese, fruit and vegetables, the shelves were about empty. I don’t know about you, but I had never experienced this before.  To say the least, this whole scenario has been instructional for me to walk through.

We have all learned some things during this crisis and I hope we do not forget them when our lives return to “normal.” Here are a few of the topics we each have had to come to grips with:

1.  Control – We learned we really have no control over anything. It was a shock to most of us to have the government make decisions about our lives that we had to abide by, no questions asked. We have now seen this happen once and we should be aware that it could easily happen again. 

2. Security –  If we were counting on anything on a human scale to be our security, that rug was ripped right out from under us. We learned that our jobs, bank accounts, stocks, health, food supplies, and even our precious store of toilet paper would only take us so far. This crisis showed us there is no earthly thing we can hold onto for our security.

3. Mortality – We had to come to grips with the fact that we are mortal. If anyone of us believed differently, this virus showed us that we have been believing a lie. Yes, it was harder on the elderly and those with comorbidity factors, but many young healthy individuals succumbed to it also. 

These were not the only life topics we had to deal with. Each one of us can think of at least one area that we especially struggled with during this time. Personally, I found that having faith in God kept me from living in fear. Knowing that God was in control of my life was my security, and that He would be there for me should it be my turn to die, gave me a deep and abiding sense of peace. I know many of you experienced this also.

But if that wasn’t your experience and you haven’t settled some of these life issues yet, I encourage you to do so before the shutdown ends and life returns to “normal.” Please know that the Lord is waiting for you to turn to Him and ask Him for His help and guidance. He will gladly be there to take control of your life, be your security and take you to Himself should it be your turn to leave this earth.

Image by gerd altman. Courtesy of Pixabay.

What Time Is It?

 

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There are twenty-four different time zones on the earth. We each will have a different idea of what time it is based on the time zone we live in. We understand that is how we measure chronological time on the earth. Chronological time is not the only way we measure time though; there are many different units for measuring time. On one end of the spectrum  is Geologic time where we measure the age of the earth by eras and at the other end of the spectrum is Planck time, where we measure how long it takes for light to travel one Planck in a vacuum. 

Another completely different measurement of time is Prophetic Time. Prophetic Time is a Biblical measurement that measures the amount of time between when a particular prophecy is given and when that prophecy is fulfilled. For example, when Jesus came to earth the first time, His birth, life and death were a fulfillment of over one hundred Old Testament prophecies. Some of the prophecies had been written hundreds of years earlier, and yet, He uniquely fulfilled each one throughout his lifetime. The people living in those days literally saw prophecy fulfilled during their time on the earth.

Those of us living today might be living in another significant time of prophetic fulfillment.  There are dozens of prophecies that speak of the return of Christ to the earth, i.e. His Second Coming. Some of these prophecies were given over two millennia ago. The Bible speaks of a seven year period of time known as “The Tribulation” that takes place prior to His return. It also speaks of a “Time of Sorrows,” that proceeds those final seven years. This “Time of Sorrows” consists of earthquakes, famines, wars and rumors of wars, pestilences, death, inflation and false Christs.

So if someone were to ask me, “What time is it?” and they were referring to Biblical prophecy, I would answer them this way: From my vantage point, I believe we are pretty far down the road on the Prophetic Timeline. I would say that I believe we have entered into  the”Time of Sorrows.” Watching the earth deal with COVID19 on a world-wide scope has gotten my attention. Listening to the people from ID2020 explain how they want to give everyone living on the earth a digital implant has made me sit up and take notice.  Seeing governments put draconian measures on their populace has opened my eyes to how easy it is to fully control the world’s population.  These events show me how the next events on The Prophetic Timeline could soon come to pass. 

What do things look like from your vantage point? How would you answer if someone asked you where we were on the Prophetic Timeline?

So, What’s With the Bunnies?

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Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Recently a fellow blogger and I were discussing religious traditions. She had a question about Easter and asked, “So, what’s with the bunnies?” I thought I would take the time this week to answer that question. It’s one that I asked myself years ago and here are some of the things I discovered.

Easter, like Christmas, has symbols associated with it that are both religious and secular. Originally, Easter was not called Easter by the Christians. It was celebrated on the first Sunday after Passover as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The symbols that were associated with the Resurrection are the cross, the lamb and the empty tomb. In Latin, it was called Pascha, a word derived from the Hebrew Pesach – meaning Passover. The date changes every year depending on when the Hebrew Passover is celebrated. It has always been the highest Holy Day of the Christian religion. It is the climax of their Holy Week; Christ’s last week on earth before he was crucified and rose from the dead. 

So again, “What’s with the bunnies?” For Millennia in the pagan tradition, the end of Winter advent of Spring has been celebrated. Symbols of fertility, rabbits and eggs, have been part of that tradition. Fertility goddesses and stories surrounding them have been at the center of the pagan tradition. Some believe the Sumerian goddess, Ishtar, was central to the celebration early on. As the centuries passed, Ishtar morphed into the Canaanite goddess, Astarte, then into the Greek goddess Aphrodite and finally into the Roman goddess Venus. You can hear the similarity between the words Ishtar and Easter and can see how the celebration could have gotten its name. Others think that perhaps it was named after another goddess called Eostre, the goddess of Spring. 

That being said, how did two completely different traditions become comingled? Early in the fourth century A.D., Christianity became the main religion of the Roman Empire. However, it was not the only religion. Pagan traditions continued on and slowly some of the symbols associated with the pagan celebration crept into the Christian tradition. The pagan celebration of Spring was gradually moved on the calendar until it took place at the same time as the Christian holiday. Fast forward to the twenty-first century and you find that Easter is celebrated as both a secular and a religious holiday. Many people with children will color eggs, fill baskets with chocolate bunnies and have a large family dinner. That constitutes the secular celebration of Easter. Christians may also color eggs, give their children chocolate bunnies, and have a large family dinner. Their main focus however, will be to gather with other Christians to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Many people today do not question the symbolism associated with this holiday. However, a deeper look will show two completely different traditions whose trajectory has merged culturally throughout the last two Millennia.

Note: This is the abridged answer to the question, “What’s with the bunnies?”  Many of the facts about the Pagan celebration were taken from the article: The Ancient Pagan Origins of Easter by Joanna Gillan published April 18, 2019 on the website Ancient Origins.

The Lens of Regret

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Regrets…we all have them. They come in all sizes from big to small and every size in between. Sometimes, if we look at our lives through the Lens of Regret too long, we can become derailed. For the past several weeks, most of us have had a lot of time on our hands. When we have prolonged periods of time to think, our thoughts naturally return to the past. Some are finding that they are experiencing regret over some of their past choices. Some are even looking at the totality of their lives and are filled with regret over the trajectory their lives have taken.

What can we do if that is what we are experiencing right now? First, we must acknowledge our regrets. We can think about where we went wrong and why we took those wrong turns so many years ago. We must then move to the present and ask ourselves, “Is there anything I can do about those choices now?” If so, we have the time to possibly change the final result of those choices. For instance, if we haven’t spoken to a friend or relative for years, we can pick up the phone and restore communication. Or perhaps we stole something from a business we worked for or an acquaintance we knew. Now could be the right time to write out a check and send it to that person with an explanatory letter expressing our regret. 

You see, the thing about regrets is that they are not all carved in stone. Within some of them lies the opportunity to bring us freedom and a resolution from the burden we have been carrying. They might even hold the possibility of personal growth and maturity in a way we might not have considered possible before. 

But what if we are experiencing something deeper than regret, something that feels akin to sorrow? What if we are genuinely sorry for something we have done or for a series of choices we have made that have impacted our lives in a negative way? Unlikely as it may seem, it might be one of the most positive things we could feel at the moment. The Bible calls that emotion “godly sorrow.” It is a sorrow that has been given to us by the Lord to help us turn our lives around. The Bible puts it this way, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted;” 2 Corinthians 7:10. 

So what do we do with that sorrow? We bring it to the Lord, i.e. we confess it to Him. We tell Him about what we have done wrong and that we are sorry we have done it. We ask Him to forgive us those things (our sins) and we ask Him to have His Son, Jesus, come and live in our hearts and make us new people. That is what we call being “born again.” It is available to anyone at any time. God is always there to here our call. The good news is that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross and be raised from the dead in order to bring us close to Him by making us part of His family.

Regret or godly sorrow? We each must decide. And if we can move in a positive direction, let’s make that move. We won’t regret it!

Image by gagnonm1993. Courtesy of Pixabay.

A Time Out

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When you were a child, did you ever get sent to your room for a “time-out?” If you did, you know that you didn’t go there with the friend you got in trouble with. You also didn’t go there with the brother or sister you were fighting with. You were basically “in solitary” for a while.

We are at a time in our world when we have all been given a time out. The difference is that we are not in our rooms alone. The whole world is basically in a forced lockdown. When we see photos from friends and relatives around the world, we realize that we are all in this together. This should give us a feeling of solidarity and unity. This epidemic is a world-wide event  and it is something that we will all remember together.

What can we do while we are experiencing our “time-out?” We can keep our perspective and realize that it will not last forever. We can think about and pray for those essential workers who are working in the public arena, doing more than an ordinary public service. They are literally keeping things running, i.e. our medical workers are keeping the hospitals and clinics open for us. The retail workers are keeping the grocery stores open and those in the transportation industry are keeping the flow of  goods moving where they are most needed. We can also pray for our government officials who are trying to figure out the best way to keep the public safe. They are under a tremendous strain as they attempt to navigate this public health crisis. When it is over, may we never take any of them for granted again.

Yes, we are in a time-out, but it doesn’t have to be an unproductive time. May we use this unexpected gift of time to lift up and encourage our neighbors and friends. May it draw us closer to those near and far as we experience this unique time together.

Image by Lauren Lafond. Courtesy of Pixabay.