Intermezzo Guest Blog: Will Vaccine Passports Control Your Daily Life?

Former Clinton Adviser: Mandatory Vaccine Passport Could Lead to ‘End of Human Liberty in the West’ – by Jack Phillips  March 29, 2021

Former Clinton adviser Naomi Wolf said that mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports that have been proposed in recent days would be the “end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds as planned.”

“‘Vaccine passport’ sounds like a fine thing if you don’t understand what those platforms can do. I’m [the] CEO of a tech company, I understand what this platform does,” Wolf, who’s also an author, told Fox News on March 28. “It is not about the vaccine, it’s not about the virus, it’s about your data. Once this rolls out, you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all.”

Wolf said such data can be “merged with your Paypal account, with your digital currency,” adding that “Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans.”

Wolf noted that it happened in Israel, “and six months later, we’re hearing from activists that it’s a two-tiered society and that basically, activists are ostracized and surveilled continually. It is the end of civil society, and they are trying to roll it out around the world.”

“It is absolutely so much more than a vaccine pass, it is — I can not stress enough that it has the power to turn off your life, or to turn on your life, to let you engage in society or be marginalized.”

Going a step further, Wolf likened such plans to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) surveillance of its population and promotion of a “social credit score.”

2021-04-02 Vaccine PassportsA handout image shows the Excelsior Pass, a platform that lets New Yorkers present proof of COVID-19 vaccination at events. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

“How does [the CCP] keep a billion people under the thumb of a totalitarian regime?” she asked. “The CCP can find any dissident within five minutes, and that can happen here literally within months.”

Wolf referred to reports about Biden administration officials proposing the idea. The Washington Post and CNN — citing anonymous, unconfirmed sources — have suggested that the administration is working toward developing a national vaccine passport standard. New York state has proposed its own “Excelsior Pass” that would be used in large-scale venues such as Madison Square Garden. The plan has been lambasted by civil liberties groups and proponents.

On March 29, White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the claims, saying the administration doesn’t see a federal mandate for vaccine passports. “We believe it will be driven by the private sector,” she told reporters.

In other countries, such passports have already been created. Israel set one up in February to grant people access to gyms and hotels, Iceland now uses a passport to allow foreign travel, and Saudi Arabia has an app-based passport for people who are inoculated.

“The thing underpinning all of this is, what are you going to use it for?” said Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Is it for international travel? Is it for getting a job? Is it for buying milk?”

Intermezzo: Too little, too late, but better late than never . . . same for each of us!

President Trump delivers a positive and unifying message, a little late, but better now than never.
https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump-calls-on-americans-to-promote-peace-amid-reports-of-planned-demonstrations_3655924.html?utm_source=news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-01-13-4

The president is not wise and often has done things that weaponized his opponents easily enough. This time, his January 6 speech gave them the ammunition to again engage in political theater of impeachment with no hope of conviction, and that, with only a few days away from his departure from office. Nancy Pelosi’s full-on hatred for the man who defied her “take it to the bank” predictions in 2016 only inflames her adversaries, which may be part of her “playbook.” (“Stir them up and maybe the deplorables will get rabid enough to attack again.”) There is nothing to be accomplished in pursuing this course of action while more important legislation gets cold on her desk . . . like removing biologically correct, but politically inconvenient language of “dad, mom, son, daughter, etc” from congressional matters. Okay, that one did not get cold; she made sure this “important piece” got voted on.

We have come to a sorry state in the USA in which our nation will soon not be a world leader. America must fade to the background as nations around “The Epicenter” take center stage and actors far removed from American ideals must play parts in an unfolding drama of literally Biblical proportions.

God does not force any person or nation to take a particular course of action, but from His eternal and all-wise vantage point, He knows exactly how this theater will all go. He did not write the script, any more than He chose what you would eat for breakfast this morning. But knowing what will happen, how you and I will choose within the framework of free will with which He endowed us, He has laid out little tidbits of information, “trailers” (if you will allow a movie metaphor to intrude on the theater one) which give us enough information to understand that He does know.

See Matthew 24, Daniel 11 and 12, and Revelation, beginning with chapter 4. However, do not become obsessed with “interpreting” these things with one eye on a newspaper and one of a blog about prophecy. Remember Jesus instruction that applies not only to its momentary application, but to all prophecy: “Now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” (John 14:29)

His emphasis in all His parables about the end of time was simply “Be ready.” Are you?

Guest Blog: The Night Before and After Christmas

The Night after Christmas, It Was Still Dark
How the story of the shepherds changes our view of suffering.
by Jeff Peabody – November 27, 2020 – Good reading in Christianity Today.

The little Palestinian town of Beit Sahour is believed to sit atop the site where “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8).  Two churches claim to mark the spot of the angelic visitation.  But that is just geography.  This year I find myself less interested in the where of the fields because I am more concerned with the when — the “at night” Luke briefly mentions.  The shepherds’ experience of darkness, both before and after their trip to the manger, holds special relevance for a Christmas arriving in the waning hours of 2020.

It has been a pretty dark year.  In the midst of already dire global conditions, the pandemic has plunged the world into what has seemed like an endless metaphorical nighttime.  It calls to mind when God brought the plague of darkness on Egypt, describing it to Moses as “darkness that can be felt” (Exodus 10:21).  Once again, something palpable seems to have blanketed the world with all the unknowns, fears, and uncertainties nightfall brings.  And as with most nights, we are weary.

Merry Christmas, right?

Maybe the sentiment is not as incongruous as it feels. Maybe the season of joy is right at home in these conditions. “Advent always begins in the dark,” writes Fleming Rutledge.

For most of my years as a pastor, it has felt as though I have been shepherding at night, in the dark.  No grand visions.  No mapped-out growth strategy.  I have prayed regularly for the light-up-the-sky kind of illumination realized by the Bethlehem shepherds.  Just show me what to do, God, and I will do it.  But my eyes have never been able to focus very far ahead.

That blindness became amplified by all that happened this year, like moving from twilight to midnight.  Suddenly, I could not see two steps in front of me.  Staring into a camera week after week to deliver sermons, I could not even see the flock, let alone the fields.  Each new crisis in the world begged for a response I did not have.  Big decisions and future planning became increasingly difficult, even as the need for them intensified.

The Old Testament book of Joel recounts a disastrous pestilence that wreaked havoc on God’s people.  It brought widespread, horrific destruction. In reflecting on those events, Eugene Peterson observed, “There is a sense in which catastrophe doesn’t introduce anything new into our lives. It simply exposes the moral or spiritual reality that already exists but was hidden beneath an overlay of routine, self-preoccupation, and business as usual.”

The virus we are facing may be novel, but the distress we are experiencing is not.  The preexisting darkness has simply grown thicker, making it more difficult to move.  But immobility is not always bad.  When we cannot go anywhere, we are left with sitting and waiting. And if we are still for any length of time, we are more likely to notice what we would have missed otherwise.

Such as those two little words: “at night.”

That first Christmas night created a watershed between epochs of darkness. There is pre-manger darkness and post-manger darkness.  “The shepherds returned,” Luke says, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20).  After everything they saw, they returned to the place they had started.  In other words, they went back to that dark night.

All the brilliant, phosphorescent glory that lit up the entire sky did not end their experience of darkness.  It was still there, waiting for them on the far side of the manger.  And that was to be expected.  The angels had not visited the shepherds to bring a miraculous halt to the rotation of the earth.  They were not there to banish the night.  Glory displayed for one purpose only: to provide the irresistible prompt to seek out Jesus.  A flash of light showed the way to a greater light.

This, I have realized, is where I have often gotten hung up.  I have been praying for a light that will eradicate the dark altogether and get me out of it. I am looking — aching, at times — for clear, confident revelation that will end my confusion for good.  I have been waiting for God to solve life for me.  But honestly, that is more escapism than seeking God’s leading.  And that is not why he gives us light.  He shines his beams of revelation to show us the path to Jesus, the light of the world.

We can learn to reframe our questions from “Lord, when will this darkness be over?” to “What is pointing me toward Christ?” As we do, we may find there is significantly more light in the room than we realized.

The angel’s message began with the reassurance that there was no need to be afraid because God’s rescue plan was in motion.  It encompassed everything (offering joy for all people) and missed nothing (down to the details of how Jesus was bundled).  God’s grasp of history and his utter command of the situation were fully evident.  The birth of Christ happened before the angels arrived, during the unlit hours of the night.  The angelic announcement may have shattered the gloom with its brightness, but the miraculous arrival of Jesus occurred much like his resurrection: “while it was still dark” (John 20:1).

God is at work before we see him, absolutely unhindered.  Our blindness is not His.  “Even the darkness will not be dark to you,” the psalmist says (Psalm 139:12).  He is not intimidated by all the unknowns of night that stop us in our tracks.

That first Christmas night created a watershed between epochs of darkness.  There is pre-manger darkness and post-manger darkness.

Up until then, no one had ever lived in a world where the Son of God had dwelt among us as a fellow human being.  Prior to the Incarnation, God had not fully revealed himself.  As the shepherds sat out in those fields, they were living in a world that could see no more than the outlines of God’s redemption plan.  The veil had not been torn yet.

But then, as Isaiah predicted, a light dawned on the people sitting in that pre-manger darkness.  The birth of Christ changed everything.  Suddenly, there was physical evidence of spiritual action.  The hopes of endless ages were no longer abstract wishes.  They were about to be fulfilled within the lifespan of a real live person.

It was the reality of Jesus — not the light of the angels — that stuck with the shepherds.  As glorious as the heavenly choir had looked and sounded out in the field, it paled in comparison to the staggering truth the Christ child embodied.  Even as they were filled with wonder, the shepherds were given only the smallest glimpse of what was coming.  Their understanding was limited to whatever promise they could imagine from a newborn baby.  They did not know he would literally calm storms.  They did not see him heal the sick or raise the dead or feed the crowds.  They knew nothing of the Cross, let alone the Resurrection.  God did not show them the Holy Spirit’s work at Pentecost, the inclusion of the nations, or how the gospel would advance tirelessly around the globe for the next 2,000 years.  Yet the shepherds had enough light from that encounter to march back into their dark night rejoicing and praising God.

Sometimes we act as though what we are going through is pre-manger darkness.  When God seems silent, when we are bewildered by our inability to figure out a way forward, we make up a greater void than is truly there.  Because in truth, a staggering amount of light has been shed on Jesus since the shepherds.  History continues to provide both evidence and explanation.

I do not mean to minimize or trivialize anyone’s “dark night of the soul.”  When you are in one, it is painful and disorienting, often to the point of despair.  But as believers, our darkness is always post-manger.  Our darkness is forever against the backdrop of the light of Christ.  What has been shown of him cannot be unrevealed.  And Jesus never leaves our side through each season of darkness.  It is those who love us best who stay with us through our worst.  You know love is real when it shows up in the middle of the night.

Someday, morning will come.  Night never lasts forever.  In the meantime, we have Immanuel, God right here with us.  And that means we can return to the dark again and again, rejoicing and praising God for the light we have and the One who loves us enough to remain.  We can heed the angel’s call to not be afraid of this present darkness or any other.  The one born to us that night is still good news of great joy.

Jeff Peabody is a writer and lead pastor of New Day Church in Northeast Tacoma, Washington.

Angels We Have Hear On High – Pentatonix

Alien Visitations: From Two Worlds

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  Jesus, John 18:36

This world seems so solid at times we seem to forget we will not be here long.  Seventy years used to be about the limit, but now many octogenarians and nonagenarians occupy independent living houses as well as assisted living quarters.  Psychologists tell us it takes about five years to internalize a major life change so that it feels normal, a small percentage against 80 or 90 years of life.  The result is that most of us feel very comfortable in our life situations, unless we are under significant duress or in dire conflicts.

C.S.Lewis 2There is a danger in getting too comfortable in this world though.  “Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth… You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.” (C.S.Lewis)

We must keep in mind we have been visited by Someone who was not from this world.  He is its Creator, but we did not trust Him in the Garden of Eden and because of our founders’ lack of trust, we still find it difficult to trust Him.   However, for those who make a decision to trust Him, there is a transfer of citizenship that takes place.  We receive passports that identify us as belonging to another world as well, even though we have not visited our new “home country.”  (See John 1:1-14; Hebrews 11:10.)

Yet we remain in this world for a time until our Supreme Commander decides it is time for us to leave for home.  For many of us this usually stretches out to that 70 or 80 years to which we referred in the opening lines of this blog.  During this time, He calls on us to represent Him as His ambassadors (1 Corinthians 5:20), aliens in the world as He was an alien (John 20:21).  And as aliens we may expect some of the prejudices and antagonism that comes with not being in our natural environment.  (1 John 3:13)

In particular we must be aware, without becoming engrossed, by the presence of “other aliens” who are not from this world, and who hold major influence in the affairs of mankind!  Much of our antagonism comes not from the people who will oppose us when we act as Christ’s representative, but rather from subtle influences of which most people will be unaware (2 Corinthians 4:4).  There is a Spirit in the world that leads us into relationship with The God Who Is There, and there are spirits in the world that oppose Him without reason or sanity.

We understand there are two dangers associated to recognizing the activity of demon powers:
1.  Ignoring them and pretending they do not exist.
2.  Obsessing over them and seeing them under every rock and in every shadow.

A friend of mine who worked in a bank told me about one of her training exercises.  She was told she needed to learn to recognize counterfeit bills in order to effectively do her job.  The training consisted primarily of sitting in a room and counting money for the tellers for several hours per day.  She wondered how long this would go on as she began to suspect maybe this was all they wanted her to do; count the money and never get trained for anything more.

Money 2Then one day, she “felt” one of the bills coming across her desk.  Something seemed “different” about it.  The thickness of the paper was not quite right; the ink seemed slightly different.  Looking very closely she noticed lines in Jackson’s coat that seemed out of place and border lines that were inconsistent.  She had found a counterfeit $20 bill, the most commonly counterfeited currency in that day.  Reporting it to her supervisor, he then had her check several other stacks of bills.  One by one, she found several counterfeits in different denominations in the various piles.

It was then she was told of the counterfeits she had missed in her first couple days of training.  And in fact, the bank was getting concerned that she would not work out.  But as she continued handling the real bills, eventually she began to recognize the fakes!  She told me about this episode when I told her that I had accepted a counterfeit $20 at the store at which I worked and had been called to the bank to Moneyverify my deposit.  Even after telling me it was phony currency, I could not identify it as counterfeit.  But her training in handling so many real bills had prepared her to “feel” the false one as soon as it was in her hands.

This is how we should “handle” dealing with demons.  If we love the truth, if we immerse ourselves in the Word of God and study the Scripture, if we practice the Presence (see August 20, 2016) of the “real” Spirit of God, that alien Visitor with whom we are allied, then when the “phony” spirit of this age comes along, we will recognize it because we will simply know from our experience what the real “feels” like.  (1John 1:1, 2:27)

If instead, we become too comfortable in this world, if we only handle the Bible when someone else reads or teaches it, if we ignore our Commander’s Presence throughout the day, we will be ill prepared to identify the counterfeit.

With which visitor to this world do you want to identify?

 

Wondering While Wandering Through Time and Space

Off the usual moral themes of this blog, this is simply a logical discussion.  Time is an attribute of God.  You will not find this in any theological text and as far as I know I am the only one to espouse this idea, but it feels right, it appears logical, and common sense verifies it as true.

Swallows of San Juan Capistrano

The “brains” of this world, the intellectuals, are fond of making things very complicated.  “Instinct” is an invented word that means “we do not really have any idea.”  The dictionary defines “instinct” as “an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.”  Why do birds fly south in the winter before it turns cold?  Why do the swallows fly from Argentina over the same pattern to San Juan Capistrano every year?  Why does a dog chase its tail?  Actually, we have no idea, so we ascribe these behaviors to “instinct.”

Hawking A Brief History of Time

In the same way, the late Stephen Hawkings, the brilliant and modest physics genius had problems explaining how life could evolve in the universe without God, so he came up with the idea of a “multiverse,” an infinite number of possible universes in which one, ours, could possibly have evolved life without Outside interference.  A pretty idea, but sounding an awful lot like Star Trek, it is basically absurd intellectualism to disguise his lack of evidence shrouded in complex mathematical formulae that he claimed “proved” there was no need for God.  The amazing thing about truth, or Truth if you prefer, is that it is usually self-evident.  “The king is not wearing any clothes” is a statement only a child would make in a kingdom that could not bear royal embarrassment.  No need for complicated conspiracy theories or complex equations.

So let’s get back to Time, a feature of our universe that I believe to be an attribute of God, like Space (yeah, that one, too, but maybe for another blog).  Time stretches back into eternity past and forward to an eternal future.  It, like God, is immutable; that is, it never changes in spite of Einstein’s ideas.  It is beyond the pale of man’s imagination to figure out a “time” when Time did not exist.  There is no reference of the Bible that says Time had a beginning.  The created universe had one, but “when” did that happen?

There are other things about God that our little minds cannot fully understand.  Remember, HE is God, we are not!  Thus, we have to rely on what He has revealed about Himself.  Somehow, He is Three-In-One, a single being with three persons.  We followers of Jesus are not tri-theists.  There is One God, and He is ONE.  Yet Father blesses the Son at His baptism and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove over Him (Luke 3:21-22); all “parts” of God, yet each is fully God and sort of like . . . well, there is no adequate illustration of God, because He IS God and there is only ONE of Him, and no one and nothing else in the universe is like Him.

So let’s get back to Time, again.  The Bible never says, “Time will be no more.”  That’s a line from a nice song about spending eternity with Him, but not a theological reality.  When will we be with Him?  When we leave this world by death or the Lord’s return.  How long will we be with Him?  For all the Time of eternity.  Clearly the Bible does not teach that we will somehow lose personality or identity; mystically absorbed into the infinite (Buddhism).  Hinduism and Jainism teach there is a personal soul but its blissfulness is very close to Buddhism’s loss of personality by the time you reach that state.

Einstein

The Bible shows individuals around the Throne of God worshiping Him, not in some ethereal sphere of timelessness, but in Eternal Time (Revelation 4 and 22).  It is the measuring of Time that changes, not time itself.  Einstein pictured a train passing at some distance from an observer, and it seemed to go slower than it appeared to someone on the train.  We see this when we watch a jet slowly traversing the sky; we can trace its travel with our finger, but if we were in a balloon up next to it, it would be whizzing by!  But the time and speed it is traveling does not change; only our perception of it.  So Time does not bend, but our measurement of it does.  We have all experienced this in the way we perceive time, sometimes happening very quickly, sometimes very slowly.  But Time is constant and does not change.

There was a time when God was alone . . . as the Three-In-One who had communion within Himself.  Then at some time in the Eternity past, He decided to share His existence with others, so He created amazing beings (to humans) of light and majesty, that if we were to encounter one of them, we would be inclined to worship him (Revelation 19:9-10).  Like God, He gave them free will, intelligence and emotions.

Then at another point in Time, Lucifer (Light-Bearer), one of the chief three angels came up with an absurd and twisted idea that he wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:14).  However, the insanity of his thought was that he was a created being, not eternally existent in the past; not omniscient, not omnipresent, not omnipotent, not containing Time and Space in himself.  So God kicked him out of Heaven, i.e. left him out of relationship, and separated him and the third of angels who followed him from the Life, Light, and Love that is God.

At another time, God decided to create another being, after creating the Earth, the planets, the stars and the galaxies of our universe.  He made this one with free will, intelligence and emotion as well.  Only this time He limited how much of Himself He would show to these created beings.  So Adam and Eve walked and talked with God, who apparently took on a form that they could comprehend.  Now we live in the in-between Time, between Eternity Past and Eternity Future, but actually part of the Eternal Time: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Emperors New Clothes.jpg

So in my childlike view of The Emperor’s New Clothes, my little brain just figures Time is an attribute of God.  What difference does this make?  Very little for our spiritual lives.  Like arguments between the Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday crucifixion of our Lord, the important issue is that He was crucified and raised from the dead.  The important thing about Time is that it is in His hands and He has numbered the days for each of us before we appear before Him (Psalm 139:16).

As for Space, besides the Acts 17 reference, you can look at Colossians 1:16-17:For IN him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and IN him all things hold together.”  He inhabits the “Colossian Space.”  (see https://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/topics_relativity_spacetime.html)
Just wondering while wandering through Time and Space.