Truths and fallacies

Wow! What a change in the world since a couple of weeks ago.

As many of you know, we live in Spain. This country has been officially locked down since last Saturday evening, and people are only allowed to leave their homes for food shopping—one per family—communication, pharmacy, and hospital. Some important jobs are being done, but almost everyone is at home, trying to be careful, and waiting for the virus to pass.

Since then, I’ve heard all kinds of reactions, most of them not realistic.

Some say the virus isn’t even real. Maybe they don’t live in a part of the world where people are sick and dying, but to say it doesn’t exist is silly at best.

Others say it’s a hoax or a conspiracy. I always question these reactions. Seriously? Everything is a conspiracy? Mysterious persons—always unnamed—are pulling the world’s strings? Well, there is a master plan, and I will get to God’s plan later in this post, but to think that every world event, great or small, either is a hoax or conspiracy is narrow-minded. Consider that the doctor who first reported this virus was a Christian and was ridiculed for making it up. Conspiracy? I don’t think so. Hoax? I hope everyone in the world understands the coronavirus is real and extremely contagious. If you don’t, you obviously don’t live where I do.

Some people say it’s exaggerated. Who knows? The non-exaggerated fact is that thousands have actually contracted this virus, and they can infect others merely by touching things or coughing. Thousands have died worldwide. As I write this, over 300 died from coronavirus yesterday, in Spain alone. Exaggerated? I have no idea, but I personally believe the statistics from health officials in Spain, and I actually know people who are sick.

Similar to those who believe it’s all a joke and not real are those who are apathetic. They don’t want to wash their hands, stay inside, or avoid personal contact. I heard that, at the beginning of this crisis, people from the center of Spain decided to travel to the coast and party on the beaches. Now, the hotels are closed and some are outfitted as adjunct hospitals. I also heard that those of differing political persuasions don’t want to listen to the government. I get that, but this is a health issue, folks. Take care of yourself, and think of others.

Some of my Christian friends think it’s God’s judgment. Only God knows whether that’s true or not. I remember when the Divine-judgment label was put on other pandemics: AIDS, for example. When hemopheliacs and other innocent people got HIV from simple blood transfusions, I hope those labelers changed their tune. Only God can proclaim actions as His judgment. We need to be careful about mis-characterizing Him. By the way, in the Bible, judgment and mercy go hand-in-hand. And, if this is His judgment, why are lovely people like two of my Christian friends sick with it?

I’ve heard these are the end times. This is one of those terms we can always agree with. The first part of Jesus’ Second Coming is imminent, which means it could happen at any time. The disciples knew this, and we do, too.

I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left (Luke 17:34-36). To me, this sounds like everyday life in different parts of the world. That encourages me, as this coronavirus quarentine is anything but normal. I think it will pass, but if not, I am glad I’m ready for Jesus to come and that I know I’ll be caught up with Him.

The Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words to comfort Christians: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (dead believers), that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1). After that, it lists many sins we are familiar with today.

A similar prophecy is found in 2 Peter 3:3, Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.

The times we’re living in certainly fit this description, but the Bible advises against date setting and foolish talk. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:36-39).

I sincerely believe this pestilence will pass, and we will go on living. But, not even the angels know if the Lord is coming today or tomorrow or three weeks or a thousand years from now.

He (Jesus) which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).

Are you ready?

If Jesus should come today for believers, would you be caught up in the clouds with Him?

You can make sure today. (See “Is your truth the Truth?” here.)

Gathering when you can’t

The coronavirus has changed the world’s habits and closed churches all over the planet—including ours. Spain is basically on lockdown for two weeks, maybe longer.

As I begin this post, my husband and I are listening to a wonderful message. We watched and listened to another online just before this one. It’s Sunday morning.

But, it’s not the same.

We’re at home.

The Bible says, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

There’s a reason God says we’re supposed to gather. Physically. Fellowship with other Christians. Singing praise to the Lord. Reaching out to non-Christians.

Today, I value that gathering even more—because we can’t.

Plan B just isn’t the same. Watching and listening to messages is good. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, especially in order to protect our congregations. The Bible’s clear, also, that we should obey the government where we live, and it has decreed that everyone should stay at home and no one should congregate. We are fine with this for two or more weeks and are thankful it isn’t this way all the time.

One advantage of streaming messages is that people who don’t personally know the Lord are listening to church services. I read a note this morning from a lady who had tuned in. You never know how the Lord might use this hiatus.

And, maybe, it will teach us to value even more highly the vital assembling of God’s people.

We read of the early church, And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:46-47).

May the Lord add to ours, too. The live-streamed evening service begins in a few minutes. We will “be there.”

How about you? How Is your church dealing with this sudden change?

Eyebrows

What’s going on with eyebrows? I chuckle to myself.

I grew up in the ’60s when eyebrows were drawn on. At that time, even platinum blonds had perfect brown brows.

In the ’70s, eyebrows were all over the place. Actually, they were still on women’s faces, but they were everything from wire-thin to tadpole to the unibrow. Brows weren’t the thing; hair was. All those gorgeous girls with poofs and wings and layers had whichever brows they preferred, though most started just above the inside corners of one’s eyes.

Around the year 2000, eyebrows got mega cleaned up—even for men. I think Japanese men started the trend, but metrosexuals like David Beckham made it look cool to be groomed. All of a sudden, crazy brows were nowhere to be seen. No one had anything sprouting above his nose.

Since around five years ago, it seems like the Middle East has dictated brow fashion. Brows are once again drawn, tattoed, and perfect—and they are so close to the bridge of the nose that some approximate unibrows. They curve downwards at the outsides for the first time since Harlow and Hayworth. Semi-circle brows and full, flat angry ones are the all the rage. Pun intended.

What next, you ask? My prophecy is that the inevitable will happen. It always does in fashion. We’ll soon be back to thin lines and tadpoles. Every forty years, fashion comes around to what it was—maybe slightly different—and makeup does the same. If you don’t believe me, notice that all the CNN ladies have been wearing flesh-colored lipstick since January. 1980 has returned.

The same thing happens in Bible-believing circles. These cycles also take something like forty years. The battles—unfortunately, there is always a religious battle—come around again. What was fashionable to argue back when I was in college has become fashionable again, only this time with a slightly different result. Like eyebrows.

Doctrine is important, don’t get me wrong. The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy, Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Timothy 4:13b, 16).

I’m talking about infighting about preferences, interpretations, and contending about issues that didn’t even exist in the New Testament.

Years ago, a person who attended our church was open with the pastor (my husband) that he held a different view about future events in Scripture. My husband replied, “We are fine with you if you are fine with us.” A fight wasn’t necessary. My husband could have debated his position on prophecy until he was blue in the face, and it wouldn’t have helped. This person was decided on his own interpretation. No fight was necessary. Keeping the unity in the faith is more important than our positions.

As Christians, our purpose on earth is clear: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:6).

When we seek for unity instead of divisiveness, when we seek to get along, even when we don’t dot our i’s and cross our t’s in the same way, we have more of the mind of Christ.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).

Yes, doctrine is important. We should stand without apology for the foundational doctrines. But, the unity of Christians of the same mind and striving together will go a lot further in spreading the gospel than backstabbing and infighting.

What does this have to do with eyebrows? Fashions come and go. The whole eyebrow thing is silly. Battling over religious issues that make little difference is also silly. Those battles come and go.

Wear your eyebrows as you wish.

In biblical practice, be strong on doctrine and non-contentious about the small stuff.

Strive for unity in the Spirit.

And, in my opinion, you can forget the unibrow.

Halftime and holiness

While the Super Bowl is a recent memory, let me comment on several subjects.

The first is that it seems like it was a very exciting football game. I like American football but live in Spain where “futbol” means soccer. I didn’t see the game except for a few highlight touchdowns on the news the day after. I’m sorry I missed the football.

Second, it seems like the halftime entertainment either was the “best in years” or “terrible,” depending on people’s opinions. I didn’t see it, but apparently, it included some kind of a striptease. I saw a few seconds of women gyrating on the stage in a news clip. Frankly, that felt demeaning, and I switched channels.

There seems to be an appetite for this kind of lewd entertainment, especially at the Super Bowl. Many years ago, Michael Jackson was the halftime act. (Again, I live in Spain and had never seen Michael Jackson do anything, so I watched.) I thought it was pretty cool that when everyone expected him to be on stage, he appeared way up in the stands. But, after about one minute of his dirty dance moves, I was moved to turn off the TV in disgust. Since that year, there has been a “wardrobe malfunction.” Not too long ago, the featured songs included cop-killing lyrics, performed by a star in skimpy clothing.

Is there a demand for this sick and bawdy brand of entertainment? You betcha.

Franklin Graham came out with a statement about Sunday’s performance. He said the halftime show sent the message “that sexual exploitation of women is okay.” He added that “millions of children (were) watching. This exhibition was Pepsi showing young girls that sexual exploitation of women is okay. With the exploitation of women on the rise worldwide, instead of lowering the standard, we as a society should be raising it. I’m disappointed in Pepsi and the NFL.”

I understand that the actors were paid huge amounts of money to put on a show. They probably do similar—but less spectacular—things when they normally perform. I wouldn’t know.

It’s time for the Christian community to draw a few clear lines. They should not merely be, “Oh my! Can you believe what we just saw?” while still watching.

The Christian community (as well as society at large) needs a heart change.

When I was a child, we sang, “Be careful, little eyes what you see.” Never was that more needed than now.

The Psalmist said, I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me (Psalm 101:3).

Job proclaimed, I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? (Job 31:1)

Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8).

Paul admonished Christians: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

My purpose is not to rail against a performance that I didn’t watch. It is, rather, to encourage my fellow Christian women to be pure in what we allow ourselves—and our children—to view.

How can you set your own entertainment standards?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it pure?
  2. Does it promote pure thoughts and emotions?
  3. Is there good moral tone?
  4. Will I be more Christlike after viewing this?

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Listening to little girls

Are young people being exploited in order to change public opinion?

I think so.

Greta Thunberg is a just-turned seventeen-year-old climate activist. How did this happen? She began by sailing across the Atlantic Ocean twice in order to attend climate change summits. She has addressed the U. N. and other important international bodies. She’s smart and passionate and obviously believes the earth is in dire trouble.

I’m reminded of Malala, the Afghan girl who also addressed the United Nations at sixteen years of age—after having being shot by the Taliban and mostly recovering from her wounds. She rose to prominence as an advocate for girls’ education at a very young age. (See The Malala Effect, written by yours truly. You can access it, here.)

They’ve been hailed as heroes—which I would agree they are. Not many young girls have crossed the Atlantic solo or promoted the cause of female education while in an Afghani grade school.

But, I’m wondering if adults aren’t setting these young women up as experts and exploiting their innocence in order to accomplish their own goals. Who is speaking through these mini-activists? I’m not sure.

There are quite a few more. In fact, in the court case Juliana versus the United States, a group of 21 children, some as young as eleven, has won the right to go to trial, suing the U. S. government over climate change.

Think about it: what kind of maturity and discernment did you have at sixteen? (I shudder to think about my own “incredible wisdom.”) Even brilliant people have very little maturity at that age.

Yet, these young ladies and children are the spokespersons of the world. For climate issues, why not consult a scientist with a PhD? Do we not want to listen to those who seriously know what they’re talking about?

Or do we prefer the fresh innocence and passion of youth?

Granted, young, smart women offer the wow factor—especially accomplished young ladies like Malala and Greta.

But, maybe we should be getting advice from older, wiser sources. Maybe the U.N. chould give the platform to scholars and scientists, people who have proved themselves over many years.

I don’t know.

It just seems a little strange to put teenagers on the world stage.

I’m not surprised someone helped Malala withdraw from the spotlight and concentrate on her university studies.

I sincerely hope someone helps Greta do the same.

The Bible speaks of young people being wise and their parents therefore being happy. It also tells us the source of wisdom: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). I pray for both Malala and Greta to find that holy wisdom in their hearts. I would love for them to know the Lord. I believe, as a result, Greta would become less strident and angry. A godly woman’s speech is filled with kindness.

It’s interesting that when God gives the qualifications for pastors and deacons—the leaders in the church—He wants them to be mature. I don’t think this necessarily applies to children speaking out about a cause, but it’s interesting that leadership comes from mature, practiced-and-proved men. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:4-7).

To whom do you listen: a seasoned veteran or a young teen?

Do you believe these children and teens have been exploited? If so, does this bother you?

Your thoughts? Please feel free to share.