Questions to ask…

Not so random, in no particular order….

  • what kind of commercials predominate a typical evening newscast?
  • do you trust the media?
  • do you trust the government?
  • do you trust God?
  • do you trust vaccines?
  • what is your plan during “social distancing” & quarantine?
  • what are your spiritual beliefs?
  • who is Jesus to you?
  • do you believe in heaven & hell?
  • if (God forbid) you died tonight, where would you go and why?

OK, I can only answer some of these, the rest you will have to answer for yourself.

Ads during the news

The typical evening newscast, which I make a point not to watch because of its agenda driven stories, is interrupted numerous times with commercials for products like Otezla, Taltz, Chantix, Farxiga, Flonase, Xarelto, Prevagen, Humira, Neulasta, Repatha, Alleve, Claritin, Keytruda, Linzess, Prolia, Trelegy, et al, ad nauseam.  What are all these oddly named products?  Medications.  Drugs.  Marketed by the various drug companies that comprise the pharmaceutical industry.  More on that later in the section on vaccines.

Trusting the media

It is generally accepted that an increasing number of Americans do not trust the mainstream media.  Problem is, during a health scare like this, where the public makes itself a captive audience to the 24/7 news cycle, suddenly the news is supposed to be trustworthy.  But if they have an agenda about other things, and can’t be relied upon for accurate reporting, why is this any different?  Reasonable skepticism is healthy.

Trusting the government

The same applies to the government.  Most Americans do not trust the government, and for good reason.  This is not conspiracy theory, but based on history of government overreach.  This quote from Daniel Webster, U.S. Senator, politician, and orator (1782-1852) says it well (emphasis added)…

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority.  It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.  There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern.  They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.  Source:  https://www.quotes.net/quote/18815

“It’s for your own good” is much better coming from well-meaning parents than from anyone in government.  There is a reason for the decades-old tongue-in-cheek meme “we’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.”

Trusting God

Unlike the media and the government, which are both made up of flawed human beings with all manner of personal foibles, axes to grind, and hidden agendas, God has no hidden agenda, has proven Himself faithful time and time again, and can be trusted.  More on that later.

Image result for vaccinesTrusting vaccines

For a few decades now, there has been a growing movement to educate people on the truth about vaccines, and the origin and history of immunizations.  It has been largely dismissed by the medical profession as conspiracy theory and quackery, despite the very legitimate concerns it raises. A good starting point for doing your own research on the matter is http://vaccinetruth.org/index.html.  If more people knew the truth about vaccines and their risks, fewer people would get them.  A better approach to staying healthy and fighting disease is to strengthen the immune system with, among other things, vitamin C.  Dr. Linus Pauling was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work on the benefits of vitamin C in strengthening the immune system.

It is not a stretch to suspect that one of the consequences of this pandemic is the introduction of mandatory immunizations, “for the public good.”  The government and its licensed media will vilify anyone refusing the vaccine that is bound to be developed within the next few months, when people will be unwittingly demanding it as a solution for the ongoing misery and suffering being endured.  (And of course, to create a heightened demand, immediate shortages will be announced.)

Something I learned years ago when I had the honor and privilege of being a backup Sunday school teacher for my dear friend and brother Andy Dodgen, was while I was preparing a lesson on Revelation chapter 9 in our study of that book.  The last verse in the chapter, verse 21, says “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” (emphasis added)  Looking up the Greek word for sorceries (pharmakeia) revealed an eye-opening truth that can be found here:  https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5331&t=KJV

Social Distancing” and Quarantine

Someone has astutely observed that we, as a hyperconnected society, have already been practicing a subtle form of social distancing for a while now, with our obsessive preference for our smartphones over face-to-face conversations and normal social interactions.  That’s a sad commentary.  Many people confined to their homes will unfortunately stay glued to their television sets (another form of isolation), relying on their favorite media outlet to keep them updated on the latest “breaking news”, none of which is going to be positive.  It is a recipe for loneliness, anxiety, and depression at a time when those are already problems, even before coronavirus ever became a thing.

It would be better to, weather permitting, go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine (a great source of vitamin D in short supply during winter months when, connection alert, people stay inside and are more susceptible to flu), and exercise.  However, if you’re going to stay inside, get your news from alternative sources like Breitbart.  I used to suggest Drudge Report, but that has fallen out of favor with me to a large extent.  (I still check it in the morning, but am more leery of its sources than I used to be.)

Spiritual beliefs

In troubled times, people seek to find meaning and purpose in life, and comfort for their souls.  It often takes bad times to get people’s attention, unfortunately.  The Sunday after 9/11, churches were filled to overflowing, when the week before, attendance was likely lackluster.  Since none of us is guaranteed tomorrow, or even being able to finish reading this sentence, it is a matter of utmost importance that you be able to answer the remaining questions correctly and with conviction.

Image result for the crossWho is Jesus to you?

Answers to this question can vary widely, and each, in itself, can be correct. He was a historical figure.  He was a great teacher.  He was a great man.  He was a religious leader.  He founded Christianity.  He performed miracles.

Settling on any of these question in isolation misses the bigger picture.  Why was He part of history?  Why (and what) did He teach?  What was the purpose of founding Christianity?  Why did He perform miracles?

His birth, death, burial, and resurrection were all prophesied in the Old Testament.  All of these events happened, were witnessed by multiple people independently, and are accepted as historical fact.

No other religious leader in history has ever risen from the dead;  not Mohammed, not Buddha, not anyone can make this claim.  Those two are still dead, and are still buried in their respective tombs.

Jesus, however, is no longer in the tomb where He was buried.  The purpose of so-called religion, for most, is to help them have some assurance of an afterlife.  Question is, would you trust someone who himself could not conquer death to help you transcend it?

When Jesus said to HIs disciples in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me”, He had the credibility to back up the claim when, on the third day after His brutal crucifixion, He rose and left the tomb where He was buried, just as He said He would.

Why was He crucified?  Because, as Romans 3:23 & 6:23 say, respectively, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, and “for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  A verse with which all Christians should be familiar, and is perhaps more recognizable than any other, is John 3:16, which says “for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Heaven and hell

The gospel is often referred to as the Good News, because that’s what it means, and that’s what it is.  And normally good news is either preceded or followed by bad news.  The bad news is that, hell is a real place, and apart from the shedding of blood, there is no remission of (i.e. adequate payment for) sins.  You can’t do enough good works, or be a good enough person to earn your way into heaven.  Not even Billy Graham or Mother Teresa could get into heaven with all the great things they did.  This is what Ephesians 2:8-9 means when it says

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God:  not of works, lest any man should boast.

If we could get into heaven to the Father on our own, Jesus would not have had to die for us on the cross;  that would have been entirely unnecessary.

It is a common misconception that heaven is a place where angels will be flitting about in the clouds, playing harps, etc., and all manner of other very boring things.  Doesn’t sound all that appealing does it?  And hell is just described as a place filled with debauchery, which is enjoyed by many here on earth in this life.  It can’t be all that bad, right?

Truth is, both places are one-way destinations of no return.  Heaven isn’t a place you’d ever want to leave, even if you could, and hell is a place you can’t ever leave, no matter how badly you want to.  Hell is eternal separation from God.  Heaven is being eternally in the presence of God.  Human descriptions of both places do neither place justice.  Hell will be far worse than anyone could ever imagine, and heaven will be far better than anyone could ever imagine.

The ultimate decision

People often say they want to continue to live their lives as they always have, and then, when they get close to the end, they’ll repent and ask for forgiveness.  Sounds good, but the obvious problem with that is that we may not have the luxury of knowing when or how we are going to die.  Better to settle that question and not have to worry about the regret that comes with avoiding it, the regret that will never end.

The following verses, in addition to the ones already mentioned, pretty clearly outline the decision we must all make before we die.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” – Romans 5:8-10

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” – Acts 3:19

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:9-10

“For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romas 10:13

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

It is for these reasons that I am content in knowing that, if I die tonight, I will be with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for eternity.  I can say as Paul did, “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

I pray that, if you have not already made this most important of decisions, while you still can, you do.  Though there is no prescribed formula for the prayer, the elements of salvation are repentance (admitting you are a sinner, as we all are), belief in Jesus as the risen Savior, and confession of Him as Lord.  God neither rewards eloquence nor penalizes lack thereof; the sincere prayer from a contrite heart, He will honor.

Now what?

If you made this decision as a result of the Holy Spirit using this email to convict you, I’d love to hear from you;  you are now my brother or sister in Christ.

Whether you are already a believer, or just became one, please share this with others, because the Gospel needs to spread faster and with more urgency than either a pandemic or news of one (real or fake).

God bless you.

In Christ,

Fred

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