“Fear of man will prove to be a snare”

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare…” (Proverbs 29:25a NIV)

I’ve never understood this passage more than at this very moment in history.  I see people walking around afraid of other people, terrified and freaked out that the human being in their line of vision is going to give them a “deadly” virus.  People have become the enemy.  People have become inhuman and immaterial to others.  The fear of man has indeed become a snare to common decency, human connectedness, and just general kindness and love for another human being.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (Proverbs 1:7a NIV).

When I think about those two verses in comparison with one another, it leads me to several questions. If my fear of man is greater than my fear of the Lord, what does that say about me?  If I am living in anxiety that I might get a virus, am I living in the fear of the Lord?  If I’m not living in the fear of the Lord, what does that likely mean?

What is ruling your mortal body at this moment in time?  How are you looking at other people?  Are you looking at them as the enemy?  Are you looking at them as someone who might have the “monster virus who is looking for bodies to jump into” as Ohio’s governor termed it in one of his fear-mongering speeches?  Are you living on the emotional roller coaster that is fear and panic?

If the answer to any of these questions is in the affirmative, you might just need to redirect your fear!  In doing so, there is safety.  In doing so, knowledge, wisdom, and instruction will be found.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25 NIV).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV).

 

Emotions are unreliable beasts

Emotions are dangerous and unreliable beasts.  Relying on them can invoke the most negative of consequences.  Ask any woman (sorry to be hard upon my gender) who on any given day of the month can experience happiness, sadness, crabbiness, and joy all within a matter of minutes simply because of fluctuations in her hormonal state.

Growing up, my mom told me to never make decisions when I was emotional.  When you are tired, hungry, grumpy, or upset, you are more likely to make bad decisions.  That’s because when you make decisions based on emotion, you tend to ignore reality.  You tend to ignore the facts.

Never before have I seen this displayed more clearly than in our present state of world affairs.  In the beginning of the coronavirus panic, it was natural to feel a bit of fear.  Everything was uncertain.  We did not have any facts, and we were being told daily how many people were dying.  If you are constantly bombarded with the threat of death, you will begin to live in a state of fear and panic.

It’s not that way anymore.  We have a ton of facts.  We have research.  We now know how the virus works and what kinds of treatment it responds the best to.

Yet people have been conditioned to remain afraid.  They have been trained, quite effectively I might add, to live in and stay in a state of panic and fear.  The facts do not matter to people.  Fear has become their primary motivating force.

Here you have a virus where on average 99% of the people who get it survive, yet people are completely gripped with fear.  You can show people the actual data being reported from their very own community, yet they remained completely paralyzed with fear.  For example, in my community, only .02% of the entire population have died from the virus, and 99.88% of the population do not even have the virus currently!  Yet people are walking around town looking at others like they are carriers of some deadly plague.  It is completely unreal to me.

They are being ruled by fear and not facts…emotions and not reality

Take for another example: the masking requirements.  In my state, only .15% of the population is confirmed/presumed [emphasis intentionally presumed] to even actively have the virus.  Yet our governor is threatening masking mandates throughout the entire state.  He has spent millions of dollars on fear mongering propaganda to maintain a state of panic among the masses.  Manipulating masses to fear is pure evil, yet people fall for it because they are operating emotionally instead of rationally.

Even though there are numerous studies put out by real experts in the past 20 years who have done real scientific studies that demonstrate the ineffectiveness of masking on healthy people and the potential problems that could arise from healthy people wearing masks, we are constantly being told that we must do things because the “experts” say so.  Yet those experts are always unnamed.  Or we are told the CDC says something is so, and people blindly trust it regardless of the fact that in the beginning they were telling us something very different than they are telling us now.  Has it ever occurred to anyone that the government is using the government to support what it tells you to do?

Emotions are dangerous and unreliable.  By living in certain emotions, like fear for example, you will make decisions that are not grounded in truth and reality.  Living in fear is so dangerous, in fact, that it can leave you opened to being controlled by other people…people who may not have your best interests in mind.

Come out of your emotional stupor and into reality, even if just for a moment.  Examine the facts.  Study them.  Make decisions grounded in what is real.  Stop reacting to the world around you and start acting like a rational human being.  Conditioning can be reversed, but you will have to work at it by educating yourself intentionally with the truth.

You are being selfish…

“What would Jesus do?”

“You need to wear a mask to show kindness and love to others.”

“You are being selfish if you don’t wear a mask.”

“You might make a brother stumble if you don’t wear a mask.”

These are all things that I have heard come out of the mouths of others, even well-meaning Christians.  However, I would propose to you that they aren’t really thinking out what they are saying.  In fact, they are being quite hypocritical.

There are so many reasons why people refuse to wear a mask.  For example, my son is hearing impaired.  He literally cannot hear or understand anyone who speaks to him with a mask on.  He relies heavily on reading lips.  So when you wear a mask when you are communicating with him, well, there’s little to no communication occurring.  You have in effect shut him out of your world.  Are you being selfish for wearing a mask?  I mean, you’re cutting him off to communication with you as a person.  Perhaps you don’t care about that at all.  Is that showing love and kindness to him?

It freaks my dad out to even think of wearing a mask.  I’m sure he probably doesn’t want me to tell people that.  He tries to hide it.  You see, he was in Vietnam.  Masks represent bad things to him…horrible, awful memories.  Just the thought of being forced to put a mask on generates what I would go so far as to call PTSD symptoms.  I am sure other service members can relate to this.  Yet I know people who would say that someone like my dad is being selfish for not wearing one.  My dad fought for this country.  He served as a police officer for many years to the point of great personal sacrifice being forced to retire because he was injured in the line of duty.  He is the least selfish man I know.  Yet people are suggesting by their very words and guilt trips that should he chose to not wear a mask, he is a stumbling block, selfish, and lacks kindness and love for others.  Really?

Or take a rape victim.  According to RAINN, 1 out of every 6 women have either been raped or had raped attempted on them and 94% of women who have been raped experience PTSD.  Rapists often cover the mouths of their victims to silence them.  Guess what a face mask represents to them?  Torture, flash backs, panic, fear, danger.  Of all the people you know in your life, especially women, do you really know whether they have been sexually abused in some way?  Yet people would have the gall to accuse someone who is not wearing a mask and who just might happen to be a sexual assault victim that she is being selfish and unkind.  Really?

I do not question your freedom to wear a mask.  You may have really good reasons to wear a mask.  That’s your choice…emphasis on choice.  I hope you have made a well-educated and logical choice.

That being said, when other people, especially Christians, try to lay guilt trips on other people for not wearing a mask, they are only virtue signaling.  The definition of virtue signaling according to dictionary.com is as follows: “the sharing of one’s point of view on a social or political issue, often on social media, in order to garner praise or acknowledgment of one’s righteousness from others who share that point of view, or to passively rebuke those who do not.”   In other words, people who virtue signal about masking want others to think about how wonderful they are for not being selfish and wearing a mask to “protect” others.

The reality is though, they are not thinking of others.  Virtue signaling in this manner is really all about them.  If they were really thinking of others, they might be asking themselves if that person has a good reason for not wearing a mask.  But they don’t.  They make assumptions and judgments without ever finding out the reason why people do what they do.  They want their choice to be mandated upon others.  So they just go around laying on the guilt ultimately becoming the epitome of what they are accusing others to be: selfish, unkind, unloving, and stumbling blocks to others.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (Proverbs 16:2 NIV).

Where have all the critical thinkers gone?

I am convinced that most people have completely lost their ability to think critically. Looking around all I see are the walking dead who just do what they are told and don’t question why, even when given conflicting information and false data.  They ask nothing, they think nothing, they accept everything.  It scares me!

Their words are the hyperbole of those whom they have voted into office.  They are mindless, empty, obliging, compliant.  They are like sheep being led to slaughter merrily bleating all the way.

My mom taught me at a very young age the importance of asking, “Why?”  There has to be a reason, a good reason, for every single thing you do, every choice you make.  Mindless choices result in dangerous consequences.

In Scripture, we are instructed to “test everything” (I Thessalonians 5:21 English Standard Version).  Yet so many believers test nothing.  They do not ask why.  They accept blindly, openly, compulsively anything anyone in “authority” over them says.  This is so very dangerous.  We are warned in Scripture about the constant spiritual battle we are in (cf. Ephesians 6).  We are warned about the dangers of false teaching (cf. I John 4:1; 2 John 1:7-11; Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Peter 2:1, and the list could go on). We are warned throughout the entire book of Proverbs what will happen when we lack discernment and wisdom.  We are warned about the prowling lion, our adversary the devil, who disguises himself as an angel of light, seeking whom he can devour (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 1 Peter 5:8).

We are warned, yet we forge ahead without thinking, without concern, without caution.  We accept godless chatter and false knowledge as fact simply become someone says it is so. We lack the inquisitiveness of the Bereans (cf. Acts 17).  Believers should be the most critical thinking people around!

Ephesians 5:6-16 (English Standard Version) says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not become partners with them;  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light  (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.  But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,  for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Think people.  Think…before it is too late!

Systemic Evil

We need to stand up against systemic evil which has resulted in lawlessness, tyranny, and human brutality in this world.  This is not something that can be fixed by government intervention but by spiritual warfare using the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  “ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV).

Isaiah 53

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

A Matter of Conviction

Last night I had a conversation with my husband.  You see, our church is opening back up on Sunday with a long list of state-imposed rules.

We have never been mask wearers, nor do we believe we should be forced to wear masks by anyone.  We believe there are all sorts of reasons, psychological and health-wise, not to wear a mask.  However, our pastor has indicated that even if we are not afraid, he recommends we wear a mask for others, especially when we sing.  It is not mandatory, but it is recommended.

So back to the conversation I had with my husband last night.  I told him that I was really nervous about going to church.

“Nervous about what?” he said.

“Confrontation.” I replied.

“What are you going to be confronted about?” he queried.

“Not wanting to wear a mask and being told it is because I am not being kind” was my reply.

Our conversation moved to other things.  Fast forward to this morning.  My husband opens the day as follows:

“Do you know how I know that Satan is involved in all of this?”

“How?” I responded.

“You are nervous about going to church because everyone is so divided.  Why should you be nervous at all about going to church?”  he responded.  “The devil is involved.”

So this got me to thinking back to the days when I was actively counseling clients.  So many times, I would have clients that came into my office feeling extreme guilt over things that were not sinful.  This guilt would keep them from doing all good things including reaching out to God, being around people, and going to church.  I would have to explain to them the difference between true guilt and false guilt.

This circumstance is no different.

You see, true guilt is when you stand before a holy God sinful because you have broken one of His Commandments.  We are all truly guilty before God because of our sin.

False guilt is when people tell you that you should feel guilty about something because of what they believe or think.

True guilt brings you to repentance and a restored relationship with God.

False guilt keeps you from God because it comes from emotional manipulation and not truth.  It keeps you from people because there is a part of you that almost believes the manipulation.  This is by design.

Ephesians 6:10-20 (English Standard Version) states, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

It is not wrong for me to not want to wear a mask anymore than it is wrong for you to want to wear a mask.  It is a matter of conviction not a matter of sin.

I am going to church today, and Satan is not going to separate me from other believers with emotional manipulation.

The battle belongs to the Lord!

The Power of a Smile

Today was a good day.  I found toilet paper at the store.  I got to help someone out when they dropped something and couldn’t bend down to pick it up.  I gave and received smiles, lots of smiles.  It was good to see people smile.

I don’t think we realize how important it is to be around other people, that is until you are told not to be around them.  It is not until you are told that other people are the enemy because they carry a “demon virus” (as per my governor) and then are forced to stay home that you understand what the world would be like without others.  It is not until you are stuck at home that you realize just how important a smile coming from another person, even a stranger, can be.

Smiling brings about a connection with others that is unspoken.  A downcast soul is uplifted when you smile at them and look them right in the eye.  The way someone’s face lifts and brightens when you share a smile with them is a true joy.  It makes you happy to see other people smile, and it seems to make them happy too.

This is one reason that all these face masks have been so devastating to our culture.  People’s smiles have been covered, masked by fear that they will either receive or pass on a deadly virus to others.  I get that some people need to wear them for protection.  I’m just saying that it takes so much away from the human condition for everyone to constantly be covered up in that manner.

We all take calculated risks each and every day when we step foot outside our homes.  We take a risk that we might be hit by a car, get in some kind of strange accident, be killed by a perpetrator of some kind of crime, or come down with some contagious illness of some sort.  For that matter, we take risks when we get out of bed in the morning.  We live in a fallen world, and death is part of that fallen world.  My friend, Jill, posted on social media today that you can’t control how and when you’ll die, but you sure can control how you live.

Sure, we could sit at home behind a screen all day watching other people live their lives.  We will eventually die inside, maybe not physically right away but emotionally for certain.  Without taking those calculated risks, we never get to live.  We never get to connect with others.  We never get to see others smile.  Never underestimate the power of a smile.

“You are so selfish!”

I don’t know how many times during this whole COVID panic I have heard people say that others are being selfish because they do not believe we should all have to shelter in place.  They say things like, “I have medical problems, and when everyone else stays at home, then I’m less likely to get the virus.”  Or they say, “I have a loved one with serious medical issues, and I’m afraid I might bring something home to them, and they will die.”  Then there’s my favorite, “You might kill someone’s grandma if you don’t stay home.”

I am not going to deny that these are serious concerns.  I too have loved ones with medical issues that I worry about during every cold and flu season.  My mom is susceptible to pneumonia, and I worry that if she catches a cold, it could turn into something more serious.  I have high blood pressure, and I just don’t know how certain things might impact my own health.  The reality is that we could even get a potentially deadly infection from being in our own homes like my husband did while working right in our backyard. We all take calculated risks living in a fallen world because we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and we will indeed all die someday.  Death is inevitable.

The problem becomes, however, that people use these concerns, these fears about death and dying, to dictate what they believe others should do.  Out of their fears, they engage in fallacious thinking wherein they begin to verbally abuse others.   They begin to call others selfish or a variety of other names to justify their anger about others wanting to maintain freedom and civil liberty.  This fallacious thinking is what is known as an ad hominem abusive fallacy.

In an ad hominem fallacy, the person attacks another person as opposed to addressing the argument.  So instead of having a logical conversation about what their concerns are and what possible solutions there might be, they go right to the “You are being selfish” argument.  They attempt to discredit someone else’s belief by attacking that person personally.

When someone has made it personal, I cannot let it go unnoticed.  I have a difficult time letting illogical thinking go.  It is not logical to call others selfish because people do not want to lose their businesses they have worked their whole lives for.  It is not logical to call someone selfish because they want to be able to feed their families but they don’t know if they will be able to afford to buy groceries.  It is not logical to call people selfish when they want to keep their freedoms, they want to preserve civil liberties, and they don’t want to see the demise of a free America.  It is not selfish to not want to see millions of people suffering economically, spiritually, and emotionally, especially not from a virus they will likely never get or likely already had and didn’t even know about it!

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “selfish” as “arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others.”  So when you argue that I am being selfish because I am not thinking of you and your loved one (even though I am advocating for millions of people throughout our nation), couldn’t it realistically be said that based on the definition of what it means to be selfish, you are the one being selfish?  Couldn’t it actually be said that you are living out the definition of selfishness because you are only thinking of your own or your loved one’s welfare to the disregard of all the other people in the world that have just as significant of concerns as you?   The tables could easily be turned onto you based on the definition of being selfish.

You see, this ad hominem abusive fallacy just does not fly.  It doesn’t work logically based on what the definition of being selfish is.  Your own concern about you and your loved one are real, but these concerns actually could be construed as selfish because you are disregarding the welfare of nearly everyone else in the world who beyond yourself who have been impacted by this virus panic in thousands of other detrimental and devastating ways.  In other words, it is like the pot calling the kettle black as the old saying goes. It is like trying to take the speck out of another’s eye while having a board in your own.

That being said, I would never think that you are being selfish by wanting to protect your health or your loved ones any more than I am being selfish by wanting to help others who are suffering and wanting to protect the freedoms this great country stands for.  I would not seek you out to call you selfish for only wanting to protect yourself and your loved ones.  You are entitled to be concerned about your own health and that of your loved ones.  You should definitely do things to protect yourself and your loved ones if you believe you are particularly susceptible to a virus.  I’m not going to say you should not behave in this manner.  I am concerned about my health and that of my loved ones, so I get that.  However, you are not entitled to call me selfish because I am concerned about millions of other people and what they are currently through.  You are not entitled to call others selfish for being concerned about the future for millions of people and what the trampling on of civil liberties will do for freedom and democracy in this great country.

I am not selfish in this regard anymore than you are being selfish in this regard, period.  Your fallacious thinking just simply is not legit.

What is a Governing Authority?

As a follower of Christ, I have been contemplating Romans 13:1-14 which talks about being subject to governing authorities.  I mean, I do not want to disobey God by not being subject to the governing authorities.  So this got me to thinking.  What exactly is a governing authority?  Is it always a person?  Could it be a thing?  After all, God is my authority, and it is His written Word that guides my life and my decisions.

In a true monarchy, authority is vested in a king or queen who are sovereign to make decisions as to what should and should not be in the monarchy.  In a dictatorship, the dictator has the ultimate authority to make all the decisions as to what the people can and cannot do.  In a socialist government, a group of elite government officials have the ultimate authority to make all the decisions as to what the people can and cannot do.  What about in a Representative Republic like the one that is the great United States of America?

A Representative Republic is one where the people of the republic elect officials who are to exercise authority under a constitution.  No authority is granted to one of these elected officials except that given by the constitution.  These elected officials come and go, but the constitution is the abiding, constant authority for the republic.

Now I am not a history or a political science major, but if I am looking at this correctly, this means that the governing authority in the Representative Republic which we call the United States of America is the The Constitution of the United States.  The Preamble to the Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  This governing authority then goes on to describe how the different branches of the government are to work.  In other words, these branches of government operate under the authority of the Constitution.

It would therefore stand to reason that as a believer following Romans 13:1-14, I am to be subject to the Constitution of the United States as the governing authority of my country.  God allowed our Founding Fathers to establish a Constitution that would govern this great nation with checks and balances put into place for the elected officials who are subject to the people under the authority of the Constitution.  The people have the power to vote those officials in.  The people have a voice and a right to communicate their ideas with those elected officials.  The elected officials are responsible to the people.  The people have the authority to replace elected officials with other elected officials.  In fact, in his Gettysburg address, Abraham Lincoln called our form of government, “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Elected officials come and go. The Constitution of the United States by which those officials govern transcends time.

So does this therefore mean that as a citizen of the United States, if an elected official is undermining the governing authority of my country (i.e., The Constitution of the United States of America), that I need to sit idly by?  Am I rebelling against God if I chose to speak out against or vote out an elected official who does not respect or uphold the Constitution, or is it my responsibility to do so in being subject to the governing authority?  Am I rebelling if I ask one branch of government to hold another branch of government accountable to the Constitution?  If my duty is to be “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1 New International Version), does that mean my duty is to The Constitution of the United States as the governing authority?

I have always thought of the “governing authorities” referred to in Scripture as a person.  However, is that truly the case when in this country, elected officials have to answer to a higher authority in the form of a written word:  The Constitution of the United States of America?  Just something to think about…

Lockdown Lessons

1. I can live without many products I once thought I could not live without, except toilet paper. I do need toilet paper.

2. I now understand what Bill Murray felt in his role in Groundhog’s Day. Scheduled activities help me remember what day it is.

3. I am less of an introvert than I thought I was.

4. Eating home more often is better for my digestion and my pocketbook. I didn’t realize the havoc eating out was having on my tummy and my budget!

5. Some people were hiding what they really believed. Nothing like a good panic to bring out the truth!

6. Freedom can be easily lost and not so easy to restore.

7. I am not really in control of my life like I thought I was.

8. Politicians seem to have a lot more control of my life than I thought they did which seems weird because I thought here in America, we the people ran things.

9. Trying to understand history and the nature of man is really, really important. I don’t want to buy in just because everyone else is drinking the Kool-Aid (I think perhaps I already knew this, but this lockdown just really emphasized it all the more to me).

10. People let you down. The world’s system lets you down. Therefore, the only source of true comfort during a crisis is God and trusting his Sovereignty.