Should I Pray for the End of the Coronavirus Pandemic?

2020-04-25 Updated Map of Coronavirus
As the coronavirus “stay-in-place’ orders begin to recede among protests and alternative views of their effectiveness surfacing, I look forward to actually meeting with friends, having them over for dinner, going out to favorite restaurants again, and getting together as Christ-followers to worship and share teaching and encouragement.

See this week’s Wall Street Journal article on The Weekend Interview https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-bearer-of-good-coronavirus-news-11587746176?;
Conclusion, “Most disagreements among scientists reflect differences in perspective, not facts.”, i.e. data is transposed by each scientist’s subjective view to emphasize his/her priorities.  If you cannot access the WSJ article and would like to read it, contact me.

I was invited in a text from a friend, forwarded from a concerned citizen, to join one million people in praying for the coronavirus to end.  My reply was simply that I do not think superstitious prayers are effective in moving Father to act.  I wondered if the originator of the text really thought that of the estimated 2.4 billion Christians in the world, less than 0.05 per cent of them were praying for that?  You do the math: 1,000,000 divided by 2,400,000,000 = 0.000417 x 100.

Add to that the fact that Father does not heed popular opinion polls and can be moved by any individual sincere heart or whenever two or three gather in His name (Matthew 18:9).  ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares Yahweh.” (Isaiah 55:8)  He did not take a ballot whether or not to answer Elijah’s request for drought or rain after three years of empty skies (1 Kings 18:42-44; James 5:17).  Jeremiah did not exactly win a popularity contest when he announced the word from Yahweh in Jeremiah 26, yet his prophesies came true even though opposed by the majority.

It is hard to imagine this coronavirus could happen to the world without the Creator’s fingers in the works somewhere.  We often wonder when bad things happen in the world, especially on larger scales than our immediate circumstances, where is God or what is God doing when such things occur?

Some have speculated that the coronavirus is something of God’s judgment as they notice the geographic regions hardest hit do not reflect their spiritual perspectives.  Others suggest this is baloney because many Christ-followers are decimated by this indiscriminate disease.  I am content to leave such considerations up to Father and remain confident that He knows what He is doing.

He is not the author of bad things happening to people (except in times of judgment), but He knows how to make lemonade from the lemons we sometimes encounter in a fallen world.  (Personally, I do not like this illustration, as I have always enjoyed eating raw lemons, and am not convinced their flavor is ‘fallen,’ but most of you will get the gist. 😊)  In any case, our place is rarely to ask Father, “Why?” but rather to ask, “How can I continue to walk with You through this?  How can You use me to show others who You are and how much You love them?”

These are the questions we should always be asking, not just during a health crisis (if this is even that), and not just when things are out-of-the-ordinary difficult (which the coronavirus has made them).  This is a matter of Practicing the Presence (August 20, 2016), and must be the developing attitude for a Christ-follower every day of our brief lives.

As such, we need to be talking with Father about the pandemic currently gripping our media, the scientists’ attention, and political and social landscapes.  Whether or not to ask Him to end it is up to you in your discussion with Him.  However, we do need to be talking with Him about what He wants to accomplish in our hearts through this, and how we can show how amazing He is, even in the midst of the confusion over what the symptoms are, whether or not testing is accurate, or whose deaths are attributable to it.  He can calm our hearts even when politicians make announcements about each other’s comments that seem harder to follow than a spiked football in the end zone!

Last thoughts: Zoom is nice and I expect to keep up lots of such meetings even after this virus is history, but there is something very special about physical contact and presence for which Zoom or Skype can only act as temporary replacements or necessary accommodations.

So pray however you want about the coronavirus when you talk with your loving Father.  Remember, He understands us even when we do not know for what we should pray.  (Romans 8:26-31)  Whether praying for an end to the pandemic, praying for a friend in need, praying for an opportunity to meet that need . . . simply pray.  He wants to hear from you. 😉

 

Intermezzo: A Corona-Virus Version of the Bible ;-)

2020-04-21 Corona Virus Version of the Bible

Well, a couple of months of self-quarantining can affect anyone’s brain, but for some of the editors at The Salty Cee (https://saltycee.com/news/translators-work-furiously-on-new-corona-virus-version-cvv-of-the-bible/), methinks it has gone on too long!  Working on the Corona-Virus Version of the Bible either commits sacrilege or heals with hilarious humor.  For a hearty belly-laugh, enjoy the first draft of Proverbs 31:10-31.

“Who can find a virtuous infection-free wife?
For her worth is far above toilet paper.
Her hand-sanitized husband safely trusts her; so he will never get the virus.
She empties the grocery store shelves all the days of the pandemic.
She seeks paper products, and willingly works with essential oils to bring her homemade hand sanitizer recipe to the merchant ships while maintaining social distancing protocols.
She ships her food from Amazon to avoid any added social contact.
She also rises while it is yet night to keep tabs on the COVID-19 infection statistics in various states and countries.
And provides food for her household because all the restaurants are closed.
And fires her maidservants since, who knows, they might be carriers!
She considers stock in Scott Paper Company and buys it.
From her profits she increases her homemade hand-sanitizer production quotas to meet demand.
She perceives that her essential oils and alcohol content are both good.
She girds herself with a stylish N95 mask.
And her internet connection does not go out by night.
She puts her hand to the spindle to make cloth in case paper products do end up running out.
She extends her hand to wipe horizontal surfaces that are in need of daily doses of disinfecting.
She is not afraid of visitors to her household, for all her household is also clothed with N95 masks . . . but turns them all away anyway, just to be extra safe.
Her husband is known in the news for selling toilet paper on the black market as he sits among the preppers of the land.
Paranoia and precaution are her clothing; she shall rejoice when the time of COVID-19 has come and gone.
She opens her mouth with wisdom for how to prepare for catastrophes and on her tongue is the fine print within the governor’s “shelter-at-home” laws.
She watches over the driveway of her household to shoo away any and all visitors.
And does not wash her hands with idleness but with THREE Happy Birthday recitations.
Her children rise up and call her blessed and corona-free.
Her husband also, and he praises her: “Many preppers have done well, but you excel them all.
CNN is deceitful and Trump is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD and COVID-19, she shall be praised.”

Considerations on Praying FOR an Enemy

Perhaps last week’s blog, HOW Are You Praying FOR Your Enemies? (April 14, 2020), would have been better called WHY We Should Pray FOR Our Enemies.  So today I will address some practical considerations for HOW to Pray FOR Your Enemies.

First, keep foremost in mind that Father wants our hearts to begin to align with His despite what you read in the Psalms.  Remember, the Psalms are hymns of praise and prayers offered by fallible humans to their Creator.  This is not to suggest there are errors in the Bible, but just as we do not take theological lessons from the historical books unless they are clearly elucidated elsewhere, we should be careful in drawing lessons from the Psalms when we are reading the pleas of hearts in distress.  When did you hear a “worship song” based on Psalm 109:1-15?

Remember that we were once enemies of the cross, even if you accepted Jesus when you were three or four years old.  Until you surrendered control of your life to Him, YOU were in charge of your life, and God help the one who interfered with YOUR plans!  Many of us remained capricious followers of Jesus even after great spiritual experiences in our youth, unstable and fickle.  While in a fit of pique we may agree with the Psalmist when he cries for Father to make our enemy’s children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit” (Psalm 109:10), it is not Father’s heart to punish children for the sins of their dads (Ezekiel 18:19-20).

Second, however, prayer FOR an enemy does not mean asking Father to make his plans succeed!  When someone intends evil it is our responsibility, as much as we are able, to resist such intentions.  But we are not to hate the person who needs salvation.

When Jesus confronted Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians and criticized them or humiliated them with His superior reasoning, it still came from a heart that was looking for what was best for them, as well as to prevent them from influencing the masses of people from following them.  But when it came to one-on-one His heart went out to those who loved money (or anything else) more than Him or His righteousness (Mark 10:17-22).  Like Father, he wanted His enemies to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).  That is how you and I got into the Kingdom!  Dare we deny someone else entry because we have made it!?

Third, we must be clear in our opposition to that which is opposed to godliness, but we must do so as gently as Jesus, who would not quarrel nor break someone who was bruised by life, nor snuff out one who had even a spark of hope in him (Isaiah 42:2-3; Matthew 12:19-20).  “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:24).

The difficulty in “loving the sinner but hating the sin” is more easily understood if we realize how often we do this for ourselves.  (See   for more detail on this.)  When we do something foolish or unrighteous, we make every kind of excuse possible until we finally fall at Jesus’ feet and ask for His mercy.  This is because I sometimes do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).  And my love for myself compels me to hate what I do, more so as I get to know Jesus better.

So when Jesus calls us to love our enemies as ourselves and pray for them, this is what He has in mind.  We are to approach our prayers FOR our enemies recognizing that they were deceived and that continuation on the path they are on will lead to their eternal separation from the Lord of life; isolation where there is weeping, cruel loneliness that never ends, filled with longings that will never be satisfied, and outer darkness that lets in absolutely no light (Matthew 8:11-12).  As you align your heart with His, you will find yourself looking into that abyss and thinking, “I would not wish that for my worst enemy!”

Now you are ready to reach out in love, even to your enemies.  So ask Father to reveal Himself to your enemy.  Ask Him to let them see clearly the results of the choices they are making.  Ask Him to guide others or circumstances around them so they will experience what they need, and not suffer the anger we feel at them.  Ask Him how you might be able to shed light into their darkness (and not heat 😤!).  And prepare to keep on loving them even if they refuse your heart to help.

  • So pray FOR the President that he will recognize his shortcomings and humbly ask for guidance when he needs it.
  • So pray FOR Nancy Pelosi that she will come to understand how her disrespect only reflects her immaturity and inability.
  • So pray FOR that Muslim neighbor with a burka and FOR her husband that they might come to knowledge of the Truth.
  • So pray FOR the pro-abortionist who screams how lucky she is to have had an abortion so that she can now afford a fancy car and easy lifestyle.
  • So pray FOR the neighbor who seems to enjoy harassing you.
  • So pray FOR that ex-spouse that they will experience forgiveness and so forgive you.
  • So pray FOR your son or daughter who has turned his/her back on the faith they were taught.

Some you may see transformed as you live out Christ’s life before them.  Some you may be able to speak with, and influence, even in a small way, to consider their course.  Some you will have to simply leave in Father’s hands, fearing for their end that they may not turn in time.  But pray FOR them, that they will.  That is HOW we should pray FOR our enemies.

Intermezzo: An open letter to political leaders

emailed to senator@mcconnell.senate.gov,  senator@paul.senate.gov, ky06abima@mail.house.gov Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at 10:11am
cc: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
__________________________________________________________________
Dear Senator McConnell, Senator Paul, and Congressman Barr,

Again, I say Thanx to you for your excellent service to our country and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Again, I appeal to you to try to stop Mr. Trump from destroying his chances for reelection by bullying and bragging.

Please relay to him two verses of Scripture that often guided Abraham Lincoln:
Proverbs 23:9 says, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.
Provebs 17:28 says, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips he is deemed intelligent.”  To paraphrase, Even a fool who does not tweet is considered wise; when he stops tweeting he is deemed intelligent.

Please suggest to Mr. Trump that he should discipline himself the way my mother taught us children: Do not be hasty with your words,, because Someone is listening.  If he would simply limit himself to two tweets per day maximum, and require himself to wait six hours minimum before tweeting what is on his mind, he could probably avoid half of the attacks against him.

Mr. Trump also needs reminding that in the final analysis all men are very small.
Isaiah, the Hebrew prophet says in 40:15 of the US, Russia, China, India and all the rest: 40:15 “See the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as dust on the scales.”

I am seriously considering not voting for any presidential candidate this year because the choices are narrowing to two men who have behaved misogynistically, seem to feel as it the country “owes” them the high Office of the Presidency, and both seem woefully out of touch with what we need in leadership: statesmanship, commitment to principles, respect for differing views, and HUMILITY.

You three men have served admirably and well during difficult time, especially Mr. McConnell, and you are in my daily prayers, as is Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence, Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Schumer, and Mr. McCarthy.

yours truly,
c.a.post
_______________________________________________________________________________
“I believe in democracy not because I believe every man is so noble and wise, he should have a say in his governance. I believe in democracy because no man can be trusted with absolute power.”  C.S.Lewis

 

HOW Are You Praying FOR Your Enemies?

How do we pray FOR someone evil or with whom we thoroughly disagree?  This is an important corollary to Jesus’ command to love your enemies.  Matthew 25:44 tells us this and to “pray for those who persecute you.”  Now, don’t go all Pharisee on me and say, “It does not command me to pray for all my enemies, just those who persecute me!”

Let me summarize with a quote and then expand, so if you fully understand C.S.Lewis’ quote you can quit reading and do something more important.

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  C.S.Lewis, The Weight of Glory

First, it is important to realize that person with whom you so thoroughly disagree is most likely deceived.  He or she does not realize they are not acting in their own best interests.  Like the phantoms in Lewis’ Great Divorce, there is something they want more than Heaven, not realizing Heaven would provide for them so much more than the meager trinkets to which they are clinging.  “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

These blinded individuals are to be pitied more than hated.  “Evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)  Once deceived, they encourage others to join in their destructive behavior (Proverbs 10:17), not realizing they are accumulating corruption and chains that bind them ever more tightly until one day they will have become so entangled there will not be any escape.  Like adding one tiny strand to a rope, each occurrence of mischief entwines layer by layer until they simply are beyond hope, but it is never for us to make that determination while they are still in the land of the living.

Secondly, Father’s heart is to do what is best for them.  That is right, the Creator loves your enemy and wants what is good for them!  2 Peter 3:9 affirms this in the New Testament as does Ezekiel 33:11 in the Old Testament.  The whole Bible is Father’s love letter to a world that chose to ignore His simple direction in the Garden of Eden, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

His intention, His heart was to give us each and all the very best with very little restriction.  But with Adam’s and Eve’s narrow and short-sighted choice, they brought disobedience, deception and death into the world.  And without His loving provision there would not be any hope for any of us.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only born Son . . .” (John 3:16). Notice, NOT that He loved those who would choose to obey Him; not that He loved people of a certain geography or genetic line; not that He loved the ones who would learn to abide in Him.  NO, He loved and loves the whole world!

  • That includes the guy who raped a 16 year old girl the day before he shipped off to Vietnam and left scars in her life so she never learned how to develop good relationships with men.
  • That includes the dad who, drunk again, hit his son so hard up the side of his head that he could no longer think straight in school and now has a hard time holding a job.
  • That includes Dr. Levatino (https://www.abortionprocedures.com/about-dr-levatino/) as he performed 1,200+ abortions of babies at every stage of development.
  • That includes a president who may be a misogynistic self-aggrandizing narcissist.
  • That includes a Speaker of the House who may have so little respect for the Constitution or Office of the President that she would tear up his SOTU speech on national view like a child throwing a tantrum.
  • That includes the idiot who drove 60mph up Nicholasville Road and killed a pedestrian.
  • That includes the drug addict who has made a thousand choices that were foolish.
  • That includes the pusher who sells him the drugs.

There is NO ONE excluded from the love that took Jesus to the cross.  “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:6-8)

  • That includes me!! And yes, that includes YOU!

So now, thirdly, my problem is to align my heart with Jesus’ and pray FOR my enemies the way Jesus would pray for them.  How would you pray for a coworker who spreads cruel information about you to prevent you from getting respect at work?  How would you pray for a wayward son who refuses to have anything to do with following Jesus?  How would you pray for a spouse who has walked away from faith and wounded you so deeply you do not know if you will ever recover?

Think of how Jesus prayed for his crucifiers while he was dying on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)  Some have said this is one of two prayers of Jesus to which Father said, “No.”  But Father’s answer is not our concern here.  What we need to examine is our hearts to see if we share Jesus’ desire for our enemies.

His Heart is broken for those you find too smelly, degraded or offensive to associate with.  He loves your enemy and makes His expectation of us very clear: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

So now, how will you pray FOR your enemy?

 

 

Who Are You Praying FOR During This Wuhan Virus Crisis?

2020-04-04 Rosenberg Survey 2
This is a time that people all over the world are becoming more aware of spiritual realities than at almost any time in my life.   Why?  Because we are facing a global health crisis unlike anything since the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920.  Infecting over 500 million people, that pandemic caused between 50-100 million deaths! (50,000,000-100,000,000)

In the current crisis, as of April 4 reliable reports are that more than 1.2 million (1,200,000) have been infected and more than 65,000 have died.  If there is a silver lining, it is that over 250,000 have recovered, meaning the death rate and toll will likely be much smaller than the Spanish Flu, but it is still a life-changing event in our generation.  And the numbers of those infected and deaths are suspect, even though from “reliable” news sources.  The media can only report what governments give them for data.  They could be much higher.

2020 -04-04 Roseberg SurveyAt Joel Rosenberg’s website, he reports on a survey his organization commissioned for McLaughlin and Associates to conduct here in the USA.  To summarize a couple of points, almost half of the respondents see this global health crisis as supernatural intervention in world affaoirs, just shy of the number who believe God has nothing to do with it.  Most interesting is that of the non-Christian respondents 22% of them acknowledge looking for answers in the Bible or online Christian/spiritual resources. (See above bar chart.) You can view the details of the survey here:

https://www.joshuafund.com/learn/news-article/coronavirus_pandemic_is_a_wake_up_call_exclusive_joshua_fund_poll

It is vital that the Church seize this opportunity to invite, educate and guide the spiritually hungry.  But what of the 63% of non-Christian respondents who say this crisis has not changed their interest in spiritual things?

We must pray for them, also.  And note, we must learn to pray FOR them, not against them.  In the words of Jesus, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:44-45

This is not an easy thing for many of us to get our minds around, but praying FOR our enemies is on Jesus watch list to see if we are becoming sons and daughters of our Father.  More on loving your enemy can be found at .

But this is not just a New Testament idea.  Jesus prefaced His command with, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” (Matthew 25:43)  We have no Scripture that uses this dictum, but it was likely a saying of the Zealots.  The Dead Sea Scrolls show the Qumram community was taught to “love all the sons of light … and hate all the sons of darkness,”

However, the God of the Old Testament made the same demand on the Jews of history as Jesus was calling His disciples to.  Leviticus 19:34 called on them to love the stranger among them as they love themselves.  And in the Law, Exodus 25:4-5 called on the Hebrew to help his enemy, even though it was someone he hated.

Then Solomon came along and penned this poetic advice regarding one’s enemy:
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
    and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and Yahweh will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)

For a long time, I thought this meant that if I was kind to an enemy, heaping coals of fire on his head would mean I reeeaally “got him good!”  By being kind, I was going to make him so miserable, he would see the error of his ways.  You know, really stick it to him!

But then a wiser man than me pointed out that fire was a valuable commodity in Solomon’s day.  No pilot on a gas stove; no matches from the Safeway store; no camp-fire lighters at Dick’s Sporting Goods.  When you finally started a fire with sticks and twigs and lots of elbow grease, you kept it going as long as you were home.  You saved embers each day so the next day the fire could burn bright again for cooking food or purifying your knife or warming yourself and family against the next night’s cold.

The movies make it look so simple as though anyone could start a fire to mount on a catapult and attack an enemy.   But I challenge you to go outside when the weather has been nice and dry and try to start a fire the way Solomon’s servant would have.  Fire was a precious product, not one you would likely share with an enemy.

When you gave some “fire” to someone, it likely would not be a burning stick, but embers from your fire pit.  Carrying it in front of you would result in the sparks flying into one’s face, so they would load the precious heat into a pot or basket that could be carried on one’s head.  Now, if that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is!  “Heap burning coals on his head!”

So Jesus reaffirmed the love of God in the Old Testament, and told us to pray FOR our enemies.  Now, who is your enemy?  Muslim terrorists?  Hindu nationalists?  A superstitious shaman?  How about Nancy Pelosi?  Donald Trump?  Chuck Schumer?
Bring it closer to home, the guy who cut you off at the light?  A rude neighbor?  A boss?  A smelly coworker?  A family member?

We are to pray FOR them, not against them.  So I wonder, who are you praying FOR during this crisis?  Next week we will look at HOW do we pray FOR someone evil or with whom we thoroughly disagree.