Monthly Archives: November 2020

Four Hundred Years

And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. (Leviticus 22:29)

November 11, 2020 commemorated the landing of the merchant ship Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. She left port at Southampton on September 16, 1620 with 102 Pilgrims and about 30 crew members onboard and arrived in the “Promised Land” about three months later.

Before setting foot on the new land, and because Plymouth was not their intended destination, the Pilgrims convened to establish an agreement for self-governance of the colony. That document, known as the Mayflower Compact, served as a model for the founding documents of our nation. The first sentence of that document, following all the legal formal language, stated the purpose of the colony, i.e., “Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith…”

The small band arrived in the harshest of New England winters. They were unable to build suitable shelters, so they spent the winter onboard the Mayflower. By the time they finally disembarked at the end of March 1621, almost half of their company had died of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.

Once on land and with the help of some Indians, they planted crops and built houses for themselves. At harvest time (the date is not recorded), they joined together with the Indian tribes that helped them to offer thanksgiving to God for providing for them even through extremely difficult times.

The Pilgrims did not celebrate a particular day of thanksgiving; rather, they made a practice of thanking God daily for His care and provision – a practice we all should follow. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15)

We should offer God our sacrifice of thanksgiving daily, not just on the fourth Thursday of November.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Fear

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

Dictionary.Com defines “fear”[1] as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” Note, first of all, that fear is an “emotion;” thus it is subject to irrationality. Note also that fear can be stirred up by a sense of “impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” Fear is rational when the danger is real as in the case of a physical attack. Fear is irrational when the danger is imagined as in the case of less than a 1% chance of catching COVID-19. In either case, the emotion of fear can cause us to react in an irrational manner.

We can prepare ourselves to confront fear rationally by training for a variety of scenarios. We can prepare for a physical attack by taking self-defense classes and practicing, at least mentally, for different situations in which we may come under attack. Our military and police do this on a regular basis so that when they come under threat, they can respond rationally to a fearful situation.

In the case of COVID-19, or any disease that may afflict us, we can prepare ourselves mentally with information, so that we can take proper and sensible precautions. The danger of COVID-19 is real, but it is not a threat to everyone. Ninety-nine percent of the population will not contract the virus. Yet the media bombard us daily with increased percentages of “cases” of COVID – not deaths, only “cases.” When they report a 50% increase in cases, that sounds like a lot, but they never report on what the percentages are based. Does 50% mean half of the entire population or only half of what was previously reported? Such careless reporting serves only to feed the fear in the audience who by and large do not exercise critical thinking when listening to news reports.

And how accurate are the tests anyway? Recently, Elon Musk tested positive and negative for COVID-19.[2] He tested four times. Two tests returned positive results and two tests returned negative results. With inconclusive results, he still has no idea if he really has had the virus.

By the way, has anyone, besides me, noticed that no flu deaths have been reported by the media this year? Yet, “During the 2019-2020 influenza season, CDC estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths”[3] compared to 34,200 deaths in 2018-2019.[4]  Why do we not hear about flu deaths? Could it be that the flu is less sensational?

As for deaths from COVID-19, only 6% of the deaths associated with the novel coronavirus died solely from the virus, the rest were brought about by other underlying conditions. In an article by “LiveScience” attempting to debunk the social media claim “that ‘only 6%’ of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to the new coronavirus,” the writer seems to validate the claim. He says,

This claim stems from an Aug. 26 update the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted on its website, which provides a detailed breakdown of the accompanying health conditions (known as comorbidities) and contributing causes of death reported in people who have died of the new coronavirus in the United States. The CDC noted that “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

In other words, 6% of people who died when they had COVID-19 didn’t have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease, and didn’t experience any medical complications, such as kidney failure or sepsis. But the other 94% of deaths were still caused by COVID-19, infectious disease experts said. That’s because many chronic, underlying conditions can make diseases that a person might otherwise recover from, such as COVID-19, suddenly deadly.[5] (Emphasis mine)

The fact remains that of those that have died with COVID-19, only 6% died solely of COVID-19. The claim (in bold above) that the other deaths were “caused by COVID-19” is misleading. The deaths were caused by multiple complications including COVID-19.

A Google search on “Current COVID Deaths” reported 245,000 deaths with COVID-19 to death – at 6%, only 1470 from COVID only compared to 22,000 deaths from the flu. The current population of the United States is 328,200,000. Using simple math to calculate the percentage of the population that has died with COVID-19, results in an unimpressive 0.0074649% of the population.

Each one of us has a 0.007% chance of dying with COVID-19, and only 6% of those have a chance of dying from COVID-19 alone.

Why are we living in fear over COVID-19? Why have our churches been restricted from exercising our First Amendment right to assemble and worship as we please? Why have our churches capitulated to unconstitutional mandates rather than adhere to God’s command that we not forsake our assembling together (Hebrews 10:25)? Why do we continue to succumb to the irrational edicts of those who only desire to exercise control over our lives?

I, for one, am tired of wearing masks. I am tired of social distancing. I am tired of going to church in limited numbers. I am tired of singing praises with my face covered and muted. I am tired of restricting the fellowship with my brothers and sisters to the church parking lot – at a social distance, of course. I am tired of all the senseless restrictions imposed by self-appointed demagogues pretending to have our best interest at heart. Stop with the fear-mongering!

I have heard it said that the Bible has 365 admonitions to “fear not”[6] – one for every day of the year. I have not counted them for myself, but they do seem to come up frequently in my reading. The first “fear not” appears in the Book of Genesis. There God tells Abram, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). A shield protects us from incoming blows, and a reward is something we get for doing something right. What did Abram do that was right? “And he believed in the LORD; and [the LORD] counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). In the last book of the Bible, Jesus says to John, “Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Revelation 1:17). The Apostle Paul reminds Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, why do we allow ourselves to get sucked into the fear over that which we cannot control?

C. S. Lewis once said, “If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb [or the coronavirus], let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint [he wasn’t Baptist!] and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs [or COVID-19]. They may break our bodies (any microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”[7] That sounds like excellent advice to me!

Notes:


[1]  Fear – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fear?s=t

[2]  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/13/world/does-elon-musk-have-the-coronavirus-after-four-tests-he-still-doesnt-know.html

[3]  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2019-2020.html#:~:text=During%20the%202019%2D2020%20influenza,405%2C000%20hospitalizations%2C%20and%2022%2C000%20deaths.

[4]  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html#:~:text=CDC%20estimates%20that%20the%20burden,from%20influenza%20(Table%201).

[5]  https://www.livescience.com/covid-19-comorbidities.html

[6]  “Fear Not” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/16/fear-not/

[7]  Martindale, Wayne & Jerry Root, The Quotable Lewis, (Tydale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1990), p. 606, quoting Present Concerns: Essays by C. S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948), para. 3, pp. 73-74.

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When the Lord Returns

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; (Luke 12:35)

I am currently reading the Gospel of Luke in my personal Bible study, and, as often happens when I read my Bible, something caught my attention that I had not seen before. In Luke Chapter 12, Jesus had finished telling the parable of the rich fool[1] who had a bumper crop and started planning about what he would do with his newly acquired wealth. That night, God called him to account. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). Jesus’ point was that earthly riches do not amount to much in light of eternity. He said, “So is he [a fool] that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). He went on to teach regarding the futility of worrying about the things of this world because God knows our needs, and He will provide for all our needs (not necessarily our “wants”). The ravens do not sow, reap, or store up food, yet God feeds them.[2] The lilies of the fields neither toil nor spin, yet God clothes the earth more beautifully than Solomon’s apparel.[3] So, Jesus taught, we should not overly concern ourselves with food or clothing because God will provide for our needs. Instead, He said, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you … For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:31, 34)

With that in mind, since this life and this world does not last, He went on to encourage His listeners to be ready for His Second Coming. (I am not sure if His audience caught the significance of His message, but looking back, it should be clear to us.) “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning” (Luke 12:35). Having your “loins girded” is an expression that meant to prepare oneself for work, and one only lights a lamp when it gets dark. So the idea is that we should be on the alert and watching. We are to watch and work as we “seek the kingdom of God.”

He went on to amplify His meaning. “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately” (Luke 12:36, emphasis mine). I highlighted in bold italics what I missed before. Jesus spoke in the form of a parable which His audience, His disciples, and His apostles would not have clearly understood at that time. He often used the example of a landowner – a lord or master – leaving on a long journey and leaving the care of his properties in the hands of stewards, i.e., “servants.”[4] All of these parables convey the idea that the Lord will leave – which Jesus did in His ascension – and will return at some undetermined time. In the meantime, His servants continue to conduct His business – in our case that of proclaiming the Gospel – until He returns.

What popped out at me in this passage is the phrase “when he will return from the wedding.” What relevance does a wedding have with the main point of the story? Note also the definite article. It is not just “a” wedding; it is the wedding. The significance is subtle and easy to miss, but indeed it carries great relevance to Christians living in this day.

Before Jesus went to the cross, He told His apostles, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). When His apostles heard this, they caught the imagery of a Galilean wedding. When a man proposed marriage to a young woman, if she accepted the proposal, he would leave to build a house for her. Once the father of the groom inspected and approved the house, he would give his son permission to go get his bride. The wedding would take place and the wedding feast that followed would last for seven days.

Likewise, Jesus, the Bridegroom, is betrothed to His Bride, the Church. His Bride is made up of those who have accepted His proposal.[5] Now He is gone preparing a place for His Bride, and when the Father approves of the house,[6] He will come to get His Bride and take her to the home He has prepared for her. The wedding feast[7] will last one week (seven years).[8] At the end of the seven years, Jesus will return with His Bride to reclaim His kingdom on earth.

The audience that heard the parable was Jewish, and they probably missed the significance of the lord returning from the wedding. Weddings were frequent and common events in those days as they are today. Jews then and now, for the most part, missed the Messiah. Yet Jesus admonishes these who fail to recognize Him to have their “loins girded” and their “lamps burning” in preparation for their Lord’s return from the “wedding.”

After Jesus snatches away His Bride and the seven-year wedding feast begins, those who remain on the earth will experience the seven-year Tribulation. During that time, many Jews will recognize the Messiah they missed and 144,000 of them will preach the Gospel message around the world.[9] Many Jews as well as Gentiles will be saved by their message. It is these whom Jesus admonishes to work, watch, and be ready for His coming. “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants” (Luke 12:37-38).

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). Even after the Rapture of the Church, even in the midst of the Great Tribulation, God is “not willing that any should perish.” Sadly, for many, that time will be the final opportunity for salvation but at such a high cost. Reader, if you do not know the Savior, please do not wait until the last moment. Accept the Bridegroom’s proposal today. Find my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and prepare to enjoy the wedding feast rather than work in the time of Great Tribulation.

Notes:


[1]  Luke 12:16-20

[2]  Luke 12:22-24

[3]  Luke 12:27-28

[4]  Matthew 21:33-41; 25:14-30; Mark 13:32-37Luke 19:11-27

[5]  John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10; et al.

[6]  Matthew 24:36

[7]  Revelation 19:6-9

[8]  Daniel 9:27

[9]  Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5

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What’s Next?

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isaiah 46:9-10)

On Tuesday, November 3 the final votes will be cast to see if Donald Trump retains the presidency or if Joe Biden will take command. Aside from the presidential race, there are many challenging races for places in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. They say, as they have in every political race in the past, that this is the most significant race in history. The pundits may be right.

I voted early and in person last week. As you might guess from last week’s article,[1] I voted for all Republicans except for three Democrats that ran uncontested. I later learned that I could have left those positions unmarked. In Texas, where I voted, they removed the option to vote a straight party ticket, so I had to mark each candidate for each office individually. It was not bad. The process took less than 15 minutes.

So, what’s next? I am no prophet or the son of a prophet to know what the immediate future might bring. Several scenarios come to mind, and none, by worldly standards, look too promising. The presidential race is running neck-and-neck. If the crowds gathering for the Trump rallies give any indication, President Trump may win a decisive victory. If he wins (and I pray he does) chaos in our streets will get worse. The Democrats condone ANTIFA and BLM by the very fact that they refuse to denounce their lawlessness. Some conspiracy theorists suggest that the funding for these lawless groups comes from Democrat sources. Such allegations are difficult to prove, but judging from Democrat attitudes toward our President, I suspect those allegations are true. From the day of his inauguration, the Democrats have unrelentingly attacked President Trump to find some way to forcefully remove him from office. The viciousness of their assaults suggests that they will only double down if he wins a second term. In fact, they already talk about impeachment proceedings against Trump’s latest judicial pick, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, if she will not recuse herself from current cases coming before the court. One of those cases might be the legitimacy of the election should Trump win, and the election is contested. The fury, hate, and anger of the Democrats will explode, and they will turn loose their hounds of hell to terrorize the nation. It will not be pretty!

If Joe Biden wins, some believe the Democrats will find some way of replacing him – the 25th Amendment[2] comes to mind – and Kamala Harris will become President. Even if Biden remains, we can kiss the America we once knew goodbye. All one needs to do is read the Democrat Party Platform to see the heavy Socialist leanings of the Democrat Party. The only reason they do not call themselves Socialists is because they know the term offends most Americans, but regardless of how they identify themselves, the ideology is clear. The Democrat Party is all about government control. This COVID “plandemic,” as some have called it, is nothing but an experiment in population control – forced masking, social distancing, closing down churches, closing schools, restricting businesses, etc. Then there is the Green New Deal, which will impose greater controls – curtail oil production in lieu of “renewable energy” like wind and solar. The Green New Deal will enforce restrictive building codes to make all structures energy-efficient without regard to the high cost of such an undertaking. The Socialists, I mean Democrats, will open our borders to allow anyone and everyone into our country with the promise of providing social welfare, free healthcare (because it’s a “right”) to everyone. By various means, they plan to redistribute wealth making everyone equally poor. The “pigs” on the other hand will live in luxury while the rest of us animals freeze and starve to death out in the barn.[3]

Neither option seems too promising. However, at least with a Trump presidency, we can trust that he really does have America’s best interest at heart. He is a nationalist. He believes in putting America first. The Democrats only care about putting their party first.

So, what’s next? I have no clue! I do know this. Jesus is coming soon! The signs He gave[4] announcing His return intensify every day. Some scoff and say, such things – wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, etc. – have been happing throughout history. Yes, but not all at once! All the signs are converging. Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). The “sorrows” He describes are birth pangs. Like a woman in labor, the pains come infrequently and erratically, but they become more frequent and more regular the nearer the time of the birth. What we see now is just the “beginning of sorrows.” Jesus gave these signs about His Second Coming. These signs will intensify during the seven-year Tribulation before He returns to reign on earth. However, before He returns to reign on earth for 1000 years,[5] He will snatch up His bride, the body of believers that have “gone to sleep” and those who are alive[6] at the Rapture of the Church. Because I see the signs for His Second Coming converging and intensifying, I know the Rapture can happen at any time, maybe before the election or maybe right after the election. Regardless, the only hope for this broken world is Jesus.

At a personal level, the only hope for a hopeless, broken, messed up life, even in this world, is Jesus. Time is getting short. If you do not know Jesus, please get acquainted. I can help; just read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.” It makes no difference who is sitting in the White House; what matters is who reigns in your “heart-house.”

Notes:


[1]  “Can’t Vote Democrat” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/10/25/cant-vote-democrat/

[2]  Section 4 of the 25th Amendment in part reads, “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President Pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

[3]  Reference to Animal Farm by George Orwell

[4]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

[5]  Revelation 20:1-7

[6]  1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

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