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 Blog: Three Minutes and 33 Seconds That May Change Your Life

2021-02-16 Lent Fast from Social MediaRare indeed is more than one intermezzo blog between my usual Saturday’s.  But with the CCP virus still keeping us homebound and with beautiful snow again layering on the ice outside, and with a friend’s blog (Communion Table) hitting me in the head, I had to share this with all y’all.  (Just for the record, “y’all” in Kentuckian is singular; “all y’all” is the plural. 😉)  Whatever your liturgical history or viewpoint I had to share this today! 

Lent is not usually on evangelicals’ calendars.  It is the season before Easter starting with “Ash Wednesday” and commemorates Jesus’ 40 day fast in Matthew 1, Mark 1, and Luke 1, usually celebrated in “high church” traditions such as Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran gatherings.  Details about Lent, e.g. the reason for the name, its relation to Resurrection Sunday, etc., can be found here at this link if you are interested.

 Social media is probably one of the most evil devices the devil has ever foisted on humanity (close second and third go to computers and automobiles, but those are for other blogs 😂).  So here is a suggestion, whether you practice Lent in a religious tradition or if you just want a break from the constancy of tweets, Likes and defrienders. 

Taking a 40 day break from social media could change your life!  Check it out, even if you don’t buy the Christian Audio, you can plug in for 3.33 minutes and get a sample that is enough to get you started.   Forget ice bucket-, exploding watermelon-, trust walk- or makeover-challenges.  Here is an “I dare you to try” that can change your life.

https://christianaudio.com/40-day-social-media-fast-wendy-speake-audiobook-download?

Intermezzo Guest Blog: The Legacy Coalition

Dear friends,
I have no affiliate engagements from which I receive remuneration and my guest blogs are just that: guests who have information which you may find valuable.  This is from a gentleman and personal friend who has been a pastor and servant of Jesus Christ for many years.  He recently changed venues for service to the Kingdom of God and is now with an organization called The Legacy Coalition.  Cool stuff!
Brent’s invitation to us is extended to any in the US and as online anywhere in the world.
(Sorry, but if you want him to travel to foreign countries in Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia or California
[😂], you’ll have to arrange for that! 😉

yours and His,
c.a.

2021-02-02 The Legacy Coalition

Dear C.A. and Anita,
It is likely that you have some grandparents among your blogging community.  So I want you to know more about “intentional Christian grandparenting,” which you may want to share in a blog.  Here is an ongoing, online resource each Monday night at 7 PM CST.  Each session is archived for one week, so it can be viewed throughout the week after.
There is no charge to register to watch and no financial info is requested.
Check out the February schedule and the topics below, beginning this coming Monday.

I would be glad to be a resource to your church to start a conversation about a grandparenting ministry!
Yours truly,
Brent Nelson
Legacy Coalition, Pastors Division, U.S.
615-415-1432 cell
brentn@legacycoalition.com

Image preview
To register: 
www.legacycoalition.com/events/

February 1: Understanding the H.E.A.R.T. of Grandparenting
Presenter: Ken Canfield, President of the National Association for Grandparenting
Here is a 4.26-minute video for Ken Canfield:
https://www.facebook.com/thelegacycoalition/videos/2614992578791820

Dr. Canfield has written, The HEART of Grandparenting as well as numerous other books.  His book synthesizes a theology of grandparenting, examining passages in the Old and New Testament like descendants, generations, your children’s children, grandchildren and many others.
His presentation will summarize those findings including current research and contemporary applications for grandparents to consider in strengthening their grandparenting and developing a grandparenting plan.

February 8: Faith in an Anxious World – What Grandparents Need to Know About the Mental Health of Young People
Presenter: Kara Powell

February 15: Four Essentials for Leaving a Spiritual Legacy
Presenter: Larry Fowler

February 22: Praying for Your Grandchildren: the Why’s and How’s
Presenters: Cavin Harper and Sherry Schumann

“Going ‘to’ Church” by Dana Vogel

Very well said, and lovingly presented, I happily relinquish this week’s blog to Dana Vogel to share what the Holy Spirit is teaching her about “Going ‘to’ Church.”
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2020-05-02 Going to Churchby Dana Vogel
We all know it’s important to meet together often as believers for our mutual encouragement. This is true and good. What’s not necessarily true and good, is that many of us equate this with a Sunday worship service. My submission to you is this: weekly service attendance is too much and not enough at the same time. What do I mean by that?

TOO MUCH:
It’s too much simply because there is no command in the Bible to “go to church.” Or to go once a week, or to attend any specific kind of service. In fact, at certain times a believer may not even have the privilege of any Christian fellowship whatsoever (think of Paul in prison, as an example). Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about this a great deal in his book Life Together, where he stresses that fellowship is a GIFT, not a promise.

Now of course we are encouraged to meet together if we are able, as the author of Hebrews says in chapter 10:25, “and don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten in the habit of doing.” And Paul certainly talks a great deal about “when you come together,” assuming that the believers were gathering on some sort of frequent basis. But this does not mean our gathering has to be regularly scheduled or look anything like what we have grown accustomed to today. We have self-imposed these regulations, these restrictions. This is the “too much.” As it says in Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”

What does it mean, then, for us to “come together”? While there is not much Biblical instruction regarding the format of our gatherings, the apostles certainly did not mean for us to simply “hang out” either. Paul continues in that same passage, “and when you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” It is clear that a large part of our gathering together should be to build each other up in a variety of ways. But this can be done in any context, not just a Sunday worship service. In fact, if you simply “attend” a Sunday worship service as your principal expression of church life, you may be severely lacking in being built up.

This is where the “not enough” comes in.

NOT ENOUGH:
Let’s brainstorm various elements of church expression we find in the New Testament: prayer, worship, instruction, encouragement, spiritual gifts (prophecy, tongues, healing, etc), fellowship, confession, breaking bread, communion, serving the poor, spreading the gospel, etc. etc. etc.!

Or consider the “one another” passages. Here is an incomplete list:
Build up one another (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11);
Admonish one another (Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16);
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19);
Teach one another (Colossians 3:16);
Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18);
Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11);
Employ the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of one another (1 Peter 4:10);
Pray for one another (James 5:16);
Confess your faults to one another (James 5:16);
Exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13);
Stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24);
Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9);
Greet one another (Romans 16:16);
Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25);
Serve one another (Galatians 5:13).

These are the things Paul is referring to when he says “Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”  Wow. Consider that: everything must be done! Weekly services are not enough simply because most Sunday meetings can only facilitate two of these elements (worship + teaching, sometimes communion). Not only that, but Paul says that “each one” is to bring a hymn, teaching, revelation, etc. If you are always the recipient of teaching and encouragement, you are not truly being built up! For everyone must participate and everything must be done. Is that what your current church experience looks like?

If not, please quickly guard yourself against self-condemnation or accusation against your brothers and sisters. Instead, ask the LORD to give you insight into how you might engage with his body outside of or in addition to your “main gathering.” It may be as simple as making a phone call to a friend to encourage them or inviting people over for a spontaneous prayer gathering. Think of Acts 12, where believers were gathered at Mary’s house praying for Peter while he was in prison. That was a special gathering for a special purpose. Let us be attentive to those opportunities as well.

Is it wrong to attend a Sunday meeting? Of course not. Is it wrong to forego the service and meet with the body more spontaneously? Of course not. We should not judge each other for how or when we are meeting with other believers – such things are trivial. It’s OK to meet regularly, and it’s OK to meet spontaneously, as long as we are meeting together and doing the “one-anothers”!

So I invite you to consider this idea: perhaps the context/format/environment of our gatherings matters very little, and all that truly matters is that we are
1. gathering,
2. experiencing a rich variety of church expression, and
3. engaging in those expressions as both the giver and receiver.

Let us all be attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit into the ‘further’ and the ‘deeper’ of all these things. Let us recognize that the level to which we experience church life is the level to which, whenever we meet another believer, we ask for prayer, offer encouragement, and glorify God; despite the time or place being priorly deemed as holy, important, or “appropriate” for that kind of activity or not.

When I meet up with my siblings who are believers, how often do we read a psalm, or offer encouragement in the faith? When I meet up with a friend to see a movie, do I also ask for prayer or share what the Lord has been speaking to me about that week? This level of devotion takes either an enormous amount of self-motivation and discipline, OR it takes an enormous amount of love for God and his body. The level to which we love him is the level to which we talk about him. And the level to which we love each other is the level to which we encourage each other. If this is difficult for us, perhaps our love for the Lord and our brothers and sisters needs more growth? And perhaps that can be the next prayer of our hearts?

In everything, let us not judge each other. Let us not be ruled by meetings. But let us not stop meeting with each other. Let us listen to the Holy Spirit for how he might want us to meet with his body. Let us be willing to be inconvenienced. Let us look for the ‘more’ of this great Family. Let us love each other deeply. Let us love the LORD most deeply.
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Dana is from Lexington, KY, where she is a part of a simple church community with her husband Diego and son Ari.  She also happens to be a wonderful singer and songwriter.  You can find her music online everywhere and follow her on Instagram @danavogelmusic.

Are You Going to Church During the Wuhan Virus Crisis?

Multiple guess: what is the church?

  1. a building (1 Corinthians 3:10)
  2. a meeting (Hebrews 10:25)
  3. a place to go to (Acts 28:15)
  4. a family (Acts 13:26)
  5. a body (Romans 12:5)
  6. a bride (Revelation 19:7)

If you answered Yes to all of the above, you are on the right track.  But we should really be careful in our hearts when we refer to the Church as the mortar, stones, and drywall where we meet.  Or even to refer to it as the meeting we attend.  The key is our understanding, truly understanding, that WE ARE the Church!

This concept is becoming more evident in The Age of the Wuhan Virus.  The current “crisis” has closed church buildings and is forcing people to consider what their relationships are.  The technology has been helpful to mitigate the feeling of isolation that has swept our nation, beyond the church, to affect schools, theaters, restaurants, conferences, symposiums, book-signings, and almost any other venue that involves more than 10 people meeting.

Walking in our neighborhood yesterday in spring’s warming temperatures, people tended to walk to the opposite side of the street when they would see us approaching.  One dear brave woman greeted us, only maintaining the six-foot recommendation, as we pretended to ‘fist-bump’ as we wished each other well.  Such is life in this Age of the Wuhan Virus.

But phone calls, texts, face-times, visits with dear friends are proving to be valuable to assessing about whom do we really care.  What/Who are we as the Church?

We are a people of faith with connections to one another, like stones in a building glued together with mortar that is strong enough to keep us connected even if we cannot meet at our legacy facility; like a family that are united by blood even if we do not always agree or get along; like a body that needs all its parts to function fully and correctly; like a Bride getting ready to be purified for our Bridegroom so that we can be presented to Him on that Day.

We used to call a “quiet time” or “devotions” a special time set aside to get closer to our God.  We may not have “quiet time” every day, especially if you have little ones quarantined in your home.  But we have “devotions” every day!  It just is a matter of understanding to what we are devoting our time, energy and spirit.

Gavin Duerson, leader of Simple Church Alliance gives some valuable insight into some practical steps for sharing a family “devotion” time: http://simplechurchalliance.faclex.com/blog/2020/03/20/3-ideas-for-having-church-in-your-home/

Along with this, First Alliance Church (https://faclex.com/dailyconnection/) is opening up an avenue of daily worship which can impress on us the idea that The God Who Is There really is always here.  I sincerely hope this continues long after the Wuhan Virus is under control.

So do not worry if you did not “go to church” since YOU ARE the Church!  Be the Church in all your goings and doings, during this Wuhan Virus ‘crisis’ and after.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come. (Revelation 22:17-20)

Be The Church

Why Go To Church Meetings?

Why should we go to church meetings?  Well, there is the obvious: the Bible commands it.  Hebrews 10:25 says we should not neglect meeting together, and that this becomes increasingly  important as we see The Day approaching.  But there are two major reasons for going to a meeting of the church and a bunch of other ones (that I will not dare to call “minor!”).

We used to sing a song, “I Don’t Know What You Came To Do” that attempted to answer this question back in the ancient times of the 70s.  The words of the original were very simple:
“I don’t know what you came to do,
I came to praise the Lord.”
Then there would be a bridge with “Allelu, allelu, allelu-u-ia.”
A creative alternative to verses in a church meeting I attended once had additional verses, but all centered on worship:
“Some people come just to show off their clothes,
But I came to see the Lord.”
This was followed by:
“Some people come just to talk to their friends,
But I came to hear from the Lord.”
And a couple other verses that followed this theme.

IMG_5417.JPGSo one of the beneficial reasons for gathering with other followers of Jesus Christ is to worship him in corporate fashion.  There is something tremendously uplifting to hear an anthem choir sing, whether it is patriotic songs, Broadway show tunes or love songs.  But when the object of that anthem singing is a friend and lover, a savior and healer, one who loves you more than His own life, prestige, privilege or comfort . . . and when the anthem in sung from the hearts of a large group of people, there is something overwhelming in it.  It lifts you into a preview of Revelation 5:9-14!  Beyond that are times of corporate prayer, either led by someone or simply everyone joining together to talk with the Lord.

There are two major reasons, though, for gathering with a meeting of the church.  The first is simply because sometimes I need the encouragement of others struggling with the same things with which I struggle.   They may at times be further along than me in following Jesus and can tell me how to listen more carefully to His voice, what He is teaching them in their conversations, and what “the Spirit is saying to the churches”  (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 12, 22).  Their “ears” are simply better attuned than mine.

Along with this is solid Bible teaching from scholars who study the history and cultural contexts of the Scripture’s human authors.  Their insights can often make a difference in how I understand certain passages of the Bible.

An example of this is what Ron Gifford once explained about loving our enemies.  Proverbs 25:21-22 instructs us:
“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 the Lord will reward
you.”
Paul reiterates this instruction years later in his letter to the Romans in 12:19-21:
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Now when I was a kid, I heard this expressed as a wonderful way to make an enemy suffer!  Like the old adage, “Smile; it’ll make your enemies wonder what you are up to,”  my understanding of these verses was that by being kind, my enemy would wonder what I was scheming and would become suspicious, always looking over his shoulder for when I would get even with him; his life would become a constant misery because I had been nice!

However, when a historian explained this in its cultural context, I realized I had a lot of growing up in Christ to do!  You see in the times in which Solomon and Paul lived, they did not have matches or automatic lighters.  Fire was actually a precious commodity, especially for cooking or staying warm in cold months and for light at night.  When someone lacked a fire he could not cook his food, warm himself or light his path!

Coals of Fire on Their HeadsA common way of transferring fire was to put the hot embers in a large bowl and since heat rises, it was awkward to carry it in front of your body, so the bottom of the bowl would be wrapped and placed on ones’ head.  I learned from those wiser than me that my heart had some adjusting to do to come into line with what the Scripture actually taught about loving my enemies.

There is a second major reason for going to a meeting of the church.  Sometimes others need the encouragement I can offer because I have overcome some of the struggles with which they are struggling.  I may at times be further along in following Jesus than some others and can help them listen more carefully to His voice as He is teaching me stuff in our conversations.  My “ears” may be better attuned at times, and if I do not offer how God is guiding me, it reflects a selfishness that is less than Jesus wants from me.  This includes sometimes sharing insights that I have learned in Bible study . . . or from Ron 😉!

So among the many reasons for attending a meeting of the church: fellowship, Bible study, worship, friendship, mission sharing, etc,  there are two major reasons for going;
Sometimes I need it; Sometimes I am needed.

 

Carry Your Weight – 7. Disciplines of a Spirit-led Life: Community

At 14 years old, I was a scrawny kid.  All elbows, knees and skinny limbs.  I could not gain weight even if my life had depended on it.  One afternoon I was working in the hot sun with my dad and his tree-trimming partners, Bill and Marion.  Both men and my dad had muscles from many years of heavy work.  We had taken out a huge tree in this lady’s yard, and I had scrambled to keep their chain saws gassed and ropes untangled.

log-lifter
Log Lifter!

Now we were loading four foot (1.3M) logs that were about 36 inches (~1M) in diameter; BIG logs, about 1100 pounds (500Kg)!!  My dad, his two partners and I were pushing them up a ramp into his pickup truck, and as we heaved and sweated, the thought came into my empty head that my flimsy muscles were not doing anything, so I relaxed for a moment . . . and the log we were pushing almost rolled down on top of Bill!!

He glared at me and yelled, “Hey, push, you idiot!”  I immediately jumped back into position and with all my weight against the log, helped load it into the pickup.  Bill continued glaring at me after we had finished and asked, “What did you think you were doing, letting that log almost roll back!  Carry your weight, boy!”

Bill Kenny, one of God’s great men I have been privileged to know, had no idea how proud he made me feel that day!  Having had such a low opinion of my “weight” against that log, I really thought the men had been using me as “window-dressing;” not really needed, but like a little kid, being allowed to look like I was.  When he glared at me, it signaled to me that I did carry weight; that I was needed to load that truck!

Steve Elliott, referring to Acts 5:15, recently phrased it this way: “Not many of us will be chosen to be famous or great like Peter, but we each have a shadow.  On who does your shadow fall, and what is its effect?”  Being part of the Church of Jesus is not optional for the Christ-follower, but a vital part of our learning to walk in the Spirit.  “Let me stress this is not just a comfortable thought.  It is a vital factor in the life of God’s people . . . The Bible does not say that the Church is like a body, but it is the Body of Christ.”  Watchmen Nee, The Normal Christian Life

Being part of the Church of Jesus requires being part of a local group of believers.  Hebrews instructs us to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)  In fact, most of the New Testament instructions have to do with getting along with others who are trying to live in God’s grace.  It involves being in the lives of others who are either there to help us, or being in the lives of others we are there to help.

I cannot emphasize enough that this participation in the Body of Christ is no more optional than your big toe’s participation in being part of your foot.  Granted, if you lost it to frost bite, your body could still survive, but it would be clear every time you went swimming that something was missing!  As the Elliott quote above points out, most of us are not important parts of the Body.  If an eye was destroyed, or if you lost a thumb, you would notice it much more, but the fact remains that every part of the Body is a part, and to be a healthy body, every part is needed.

1 Corinthians 12 gives an excellent and clearly written exposition of this concept, better than anything I could write, so I commend you to that chapter, and read it with chapter 13 to understand the “more excellent way” to participate in the Body of Christ.  Sandwiched between chapters 12 and 14, which give instructions on the use of spiritual gifts is this “love chapter” that emphasizes any and all gifts, abilities or authority exercised in the fellowship of the believers must be done from a motive of love.  If such a gift, ability or authority is exercised out of any other motive, even if it appears miraculous and auspicious, it is nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

There are then two reasons for joining a group of believers:
1)  There are times I need encouragement.  There are times I need prayer. There are times I need advice, or correction, or a friendly hand, or even times I need to be rebuked.  All times that I need something.  And it is in fellowship in a church, whether in someone’s home, a cathedral, or an evangelical meeting, that these things are provided for me.
2)  Then there are times I can give encouragement.  There are times I can pray for someone.  There are times I can give advice, or correction, or a friendly hand, or even times I may need to rebuke someone.  All times that I can give something.  And it is in fellowship, again, whether in someone’s home, a cathedral, or in an evangelical meeting that I can give.

So get behind that log, and carry your weight!  And challenge me to carry mine!

Next week, February 27, 2017, we will look at some basics about salvation, The Good News, Plain and Simple, to make sure no one makes a mistake of thinking that observing these spiritual disciplines earns Heaven.