Tag Archives: coronavirus

A Christian Easter

A Christian Easter

“So you don’t care about one billion Catholics?” That’s what I heard in the spirit recently — a thought that wasn’t my thought — which I’ve learned to believe is from the Lord. I couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking at the time, but I will never forget what I heard.

I have a high view of Catholics, I think, and I’ve always found common ground in Christ when relating to them as friends, in monasteries and retreat centers, and I had a good friend for a time who was the priest at Christ the King Catholic Church in the neighborhood where I lived.

But I didn’t question the thought. I know that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” [I Sam 16:7]. The inference, strong but gentle, was,”I do, and you should too.” That became easier and almost a mandate and passion Easter Sunday 2020 with what I heard from Andrea Bocelli. It peaked my spiritual senses, and I believe it reverberated in the heavens. A prayer birthed in the heart of God, to be answered soon. Mercy for our world.

Protestants & Catholics

There may be something just below the surface in protestant thinking that goes something like this, “Most Catholics don’t read the Bible for themselves, and have at times been discouraged from doing so, so how could they believe? Do they even know what they believe?” Something like that or along those lines. Then some superiority illusions or pride creeps in, because we protestants study the Bible, know the Bible and what we believe it teaches. Pride blinds one to truth and reality.

Protestants beware of blinding pride. Or as Jesus told the Pharisees (the most religious Jews of His day), “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” [John 5:39] That is, they couldn’t see that God in the flesh was standing right in front of them, even though they studied Scripture and its prophecies.

But Bocelli’s simple act of faith, prayer, and worship on the world stage demonstrated simple, childlike faith in doing what he had been invited to do. Child like faith may be a trademark of Catholics? Something akin to the thief on the cross, who sensed his own miserable condition, getting what he deserved, but also sensed that Jesus was the Son of God, asked for mercy, and received the grace of salvation — without much Bible knowledge, as far as we know, like a little child.

That kind of faith may be a Catholic strength?! Yet beware of being somewhat familiar with Jesus, and like the five foolish virgins, not being known by Him, [Matt 25:1-13] putting your faith in saying, “I’m a Catholic or I’m a Christian.” Jesus had something to say to the Pharisees about that too, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” [Matt 3:9] Or said another way, “You think you’re fine because you’re Jews, but that’s not enough.” Grace received by faith is required, and the resulting relationship.

Christians

I think this pandemic, isolation, and solitude has caused Christ followers around the world to reexamine what they believe. Who and how much they trust? Something along the lines of “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” [Phil 2:12b] And it’s caused Christ followers to minimize their differences and pull together in faith, solidarity, and obedience to Christ.

I’m not talking about universalism here, the teaching or belief that everyone will go to heaven and have eternal life. The Bible doesn’t teach that. And Jesus Himself certainly didn’t. Remember He said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” [Matt 7:13-14] And, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” [Luke 13:24] He also said it wasn’t His will that any should perish, but that all would come to eternal life.” [2 Peter 3:9] So our wills, wants, desires, actions, and words play a pivotal part in knowing Him.

I’m just saying I’m not the gate keeper. None of us are. Only One is — He Who rose from the dead that first Easter, once for all time, and for all who believe.

So know Him! More importantly, be known by Him.

Amazing Grace — Blind or Seeing

The Bocelli event ended with Amazing Grace, something every believer in Christ can identify with immediately and intensely. A humble acknowledgement we once were blind. And only by His Grace, now we see — the Risen Savior, for Who He Is. The Christ. The King. The Messiah. God’s Son. A loving, powerful One Who hears prayer.

How striking and strong it was to have a blind man with perhaps the best voice in the world standing there singing and seeing in the spiritual realm, while many sighted people watched who were perhaps spiritually blind. Grace was all around, and is there to be found.

Something Changed

I think something changed with that proclamation and prayer Easter Sunday 2020. Many prayers were ascending to God to have mercy and extend grace in our time of global need. More than 2.5 million people watched the powerful event live. As of this post, 38,629,568 have viewed it! Certainly it must have been the largest Christian meeting or spiritual meeting ever experienced at one time. That it included people of all faiths and many nonbelievers is remarkable as well, in the privacy of their own homes, listening in a world quietened by plague. People looking for answers witnessed a global spiritual gathering and event around Christ — facilitated by YouTube, the world wide web, and a humble man with a great voice and sincere faith, moved by compassion for his city, his country, and the world.

So there you have it. There are an estimated 2.3 billion Christians in the world, 1.2 billion Catholics and 1.1 billion protestants — about 30% of the world population. Because of Jesus, we care about each other and our world. Our prayer is that He show us more of His Amazing Grace in this crisis as we love, serve, and worship Him, Who Is Worthy — He is rich in Mercy and abundant in Grace. Amen.

Amazing Grace

Easter Sunday 2020

Trailer for Easter Sunday

A Protestant Easter


Allow me to recount the personal way my wife and I spent Easter 2020 along with some thoughts on how Easter was shared among believers in the protestant world.

I’ll start with an entry from my journal on Saturday before Easter. “It’s sunny with clouds and a cool east wind on a crisp spring day atop of this beautiful mountain as I read another chapter in Dudley Hall’s, Grace Works.” In the latest chapter he notes, “The major sin of God’s covenant people is that of unbelief… since Gods primary requirement is faith.” “In fact, I would dare say that no violation of the law is ever committed without prior unbelief.”

Profound! Grace and Faith. Faith and Grace. The two key issues with God! (Eph 2:8-9)
Then Abide (John 15:5). No boasting ( I Col 1:29, Jeremiah 9:23-24)!

If you fall back into law or works, pray-repent-admit-be restored at once. The price is paid — Easter 2020. Holy Saturday ends the season of Lent. It’s a good day to ponder such truth. Thank you Lord for leading me. Help me to abide more with You, and in You, and You in me. This is my plea, my prayer for holy Saturday, 2020.

April 12, 2020 Easter

On a beautiful, high overcast morning with a sea of pastel greens and blues below… there is thunder in the area on Easter morning — a power display.

I share “He is Risen!” and “He is Risen Indeed!” — the traditional Easter greeting of the early church — with a few close friends and family by text. Now begins a virtual Easter celebration with our present home church, Fayetteville Fellowship. Strange it seems, real and surreal at the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has much of the planet in isolation, so on one of the most church-attended Sundays of the year in Christendom, the faithful are not allowed to meet! So plans have been made, with a few weeks practice under their belts, for most of the planets churches to meet on line, via streaming, Facebook, YouTube, etc. People are forced to be more private and thoughtful about their beliefs, as they ponder them alone, and with their families, or small groups of believers in a time of uncertainty.

This also allows my wife and I to visit the Easter services of friends in Kansas. And of our Fort Smith, AR church for more than thirty years, before we moved last year. Amazing developments all the way around!

As startling as it is, it’s also refreshing in a sense — to break with tradition and consider what it is you really believe? And why you do what you do?

The outline of our pastors message was:
The Fact — of the resurrection
The Implications — of the resurrection
The Meaning — of the resurrection

You assume His death is the end. His disciple did! The most faithful prepared spices. It’s over.

But within days, Peter, arguably the most prone to act in the flesh or his own strength, has a personal meeting with his risen Lord in Galilee, gets a personal commission, and a few days later the inner empowerment to carry it out, being filled with the same Holy Spirit operative in Jesus.

In similar fashion within a few weeks, Paul a violent, angry religious, Jewish bigot, would meet the risen Lord and receive the same Holy Spirit, along with a new identity. The two of them, in that power, would go on to change the known world of their time extending down to our time. Amazing. Grace.

Or in his own words recorded in Romans 1:1-7

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,  and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, promised by the Prophets, Jesus Christ our Lord! News by which everything is changed. A plan to fix and reverse the curse of sin… One Who would come has come.

The implications Paul goes on to say in Romans 8, is that, “We are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

And in Romans 10, “If you declare with your mouth, and trust in your heart, you will be saved.” Declare and believe what? “Jesus was raised from the dead!”

It’s the claim of Easter. The victory we walk in. Celebrate!!


Here are two special worship videos going around in our area this season especially apropos the pandemic and the cultural era in which we live.

This one from our home church.

This one from a group of believers in Nashville TN.

Enjoy! He is risen indeed!

Easter 2020

I knew it could be special! I’ve heard some of Andrea Bocelli’s songs before. A voice, and seemingly a heart, that turns heads whenever one hears almost any note he sings.

My wife had seen a message on line announcing that Bocelli would be bringing a free concert to the world from Milan Italy at noon our time, live streamed to the world via YouTube. And it happened just like that!

Two and one half million viewers watched it live. During the next forty-eight hours, more than thirty-three million people had watched it. Amazing!

I’ll comment on it later, with the English translations of the songs sung in Italian, but you can watch it here now, and experience it for yourself.

The music, the back story, the architecture , the videography, the choreography, the history, the understated nature of this world-wide communication and prayer to the Almighty will speak to your heart in ways words cannot. Just enjoy it for now, and listen with your heart, to something deeply spiritual, and very special. Music for hope.

Prophets of Grace

Prophets of Grace

“… even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, … but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you ….” I Peter 1

“Prophets of Grace” is a concept and calling that has been ringing in my ears for a couple months now, since Honduras 2020. My eyes just fell on this phrase in Peter, “prophets who prophesied of the grace….”

I was trying to articulate to a good friend at a Tacos-4-Life lunch yesterday, in our COVID-19-plague and fear-struck world, that I feel I’ve just discovered GRACE for the first time! It’s so new, fresh, big — pervasive in the Word and in my thoughts and experience now. I wonder how I could have missed its centrality and importance in God’s plan and Word all these years?

He kindly and gently replied, “I think we will never understand it all. We are always learning about grace.”

Well I can accept that, but it’s still amazes me….

Grace Attack

“Grace Attack” is a funny way to convey that God sometimes comes in ways to help and be gracious to us that looks more like an attack! But the outcome is good and the test will in time show its benefit, usually getting us out of a rut and on a better path. So whether God caused the virus or allowed it, the only two options I can think of since He’s so powerful and working in His creation every day, the outcome will be good.

Couple that with how good, loving, kind, magnanimous really — I’ll sum those attributes and call them “gracious” — God is, and we know we can and should “trust” Him completely in this world-wide crisis.

If you really know Him, you trust Him. You believe His plan for you is better than even your plan for you. And you will have the same response in all this that Eli, the ancient Israeli judge had on a day when he received some very bad news from a young prophet, “Let the Lord do what seems good to Him.” [I Samuel 3:1-18.]

Stay in Community as you Journey — Start Now

A men’s friendship group I started recently called the 2020 Book Club, meets in our home the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. To start our discussion and interaction we read a book in the interim and then share our notes or insights.

We often interject a book of the Bible in the mix and are now reading I & II Peter. I just started and look what I’ve already stumbled across! Coincidence? Providence? Synchronicity?


I invite you to put on GRACE glasses with me, and look for the word and concept as you read Scripture. I think you’ll be shocked and pleased — amazed at what you begin to see. And you may become a “Prophet of Grace!”

You should start a men’s (or women’s) group! And let grace start flowing through you! And your friends. :):) Godspeed. Your group will prove inspiring, empowering, life giving. He will see to it.

Stay tuned for more, on GRACE ….

Corona Chapter Change

The following is from C. S. Lewis. It was written in 1948 after the dawn of the atomic age.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, 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 and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

I have a precious Christian sister who lives in Virginia with her husband. They are some of our best friends. As she shared her concerns and fears about the present pandemic in the early days, I found it disturbing that a believer of deep faith could be so fearful about the developing circumstances, and she wasn’t alone as my wife told me about Instagram posts from other friends. So I reached out to her with the previous C.S. Lewis quote. That started a personal sharing by text that I share below — two friends pondering the events unfolding in our country and world. This will also serve as a chapter change of sorts of my comments on the pandemic of COVID-19 or the pandemic of fear. The mule is out of the barn so to speak, so I intend to focus future posts about how Christians might deal with the crisis in keeping with their faith in God and Christ Jesus the Lord, and not whether or not the threat is real.

My friend responded:
I totally agree with CS Lewis, however the reality is we can do everything possible to not panic and keep a level head. The ripple effect will be tremendous economically and we may have to reboot to a new normal.
Our son in law that is a Dr. is very sick at this moment and their family is home quarantined. He was actually tested for the virus yesterday but will not know for 5 days what the results are. The fast track results are only for individuals that are in respiratory distress. He wasn’t yesterday. Today is a different story. His mucus levels are rising and they are doing everything to try to keep them down. Courtney as you know is a nurse. She is trying to take care of him and work from home trying to keep dialysis clinics open with staff dropping like flies all the while she is trying to manage a rowdy energetic 4 year old that has no understanding of any of this. So she is in the trenches. Until now I didn’t quite understand the pandemonium. But having her in that position is making it more clear. If I leave the earth with this virus, all the while having taken precautions then that is how it was meant to be.

Love you guys and pray you and your family stay well.

I responded:

I’m sorry for Courtney and all the millions of mom’s working and now with kids at home… there is rather suddenly a lot of suffering and sacrifice our nation is enduring with the prospect of it getting worse before it gets better. My conviction is (did you read my blogs on this?) that the fear and panic it is causing and going to cause is doing more damage than the disease could or would. Only time will tell. Praying you can find more peace. Love you guys! Abiding…DB

My friend replied:

I really do have peace about it because it truly is in God’s hands. The helplessness feeling I have is further proof that it not ours to control and it will be what it will be. I think we will see many miracles come out of this but not without suffering. I was telling someone weeks ago that our younger generations have not experienced anything to mold them like generations past. (Especially the greatest generation that lived through World Wars and the Great Depression)  I was telling someone that something would happen to really identify what is important and what is not. Our spoiled Millennials that we created are about to find out what life is all about. So I definitely believe in silver linings and that all things will be to the glory of God.

Me:

Yes! You’re on to something there for sure. Only our God is able enough and good enough to oversee something like this. May He have mercy and abundantly supply Grace. Amen thanks:):)

Amen!! I’d love the games and being with you guys. And I know you would share! You’re Two of the most generous people I’ve ever known (can be spelled Gracious) :):) Love you and value your friendship very much… even from afar! :):) Shalom

Got this from one of my best friends (back to college days :)) who recently retired as CEO of a large hospital in NWA about how Drs. Are seeing the crisis, and I loved his last comment. We should all feel this way. ***
Talked to couple of physicians yesterday p.m..  here’s another perspective:   They have both full resolve and are somewhat disheartened!  On one hand, social separation strategy is aimed at getting us to warmer weather with people outside in the hopes the virus dissipates and goes away in 4-6 weeks.  Thus, saving lives potentially.   They think of little else beyond that it seems – economics, jobs, etc.   in my experience this is typical doctor thinking.   They are disheartened by level of cynicism about this feeling if it works people will say -“they over did for nothing”. And if it doesn’t work that “ they weren’t prepared”.   I can understand some of that.  They blame media by in large for distortion of reality – as I do – and the populous for falling for it.  Interesting and thought I’d share.  There are some warriors in healthcare, not all, and I love them for what they do.

My Friend:

I totally agree with his comment on doing too little or not enough. There is no way to win on this one. 

Me:

From the medical side! Yes … probably but from the American leadership side and the populace?? They could have and should have shown more wisdom and faith vs fear, and guts to act on that…. We are more responsible than the medical community for what this has become… they are just doing what they’re charged and trained to do. Maybe the sad fact I don’t want to believe is that our nation has become so secular humanist and non God-fearing or God-trusting … that they’re just acting like you’d expect them to act? Again… God is mercifully showing us ourselves, and what we are without Him. Gratefully He is full of Mercy, Compassion, and Gracious beyond our understanding, and He hears our prayer. Amen

We should thank him for letting this happen and showing us these things… As in the old saying “If you find yourself in a deep pit, first stop digging.” And maybe pray like Eli when he got some bad news, “Let the LORD do what seems best to Him.” Amen אמן

My Friend:

Amen

:):) love ya 

A Medical Perspective

My wife read to me last evening that the governor of our state had ordered the closure of all restaurants and bars. The stock market posted a tiny upswing, and I also read the first article I’ve seen pointing out that the virus may not be as vial or deadly as the media has shouted from the roofs in most of their coverage since the outset.

So where did we get reliable information about this danger anyway? Where does it start? Medical professionals, correct? Why and how does it swell to fear and panic so quickly? I realize that history and time may show that it was merited. But from the beginning it seems the amount of fear and the corresponding over reaction could have been avoided by more truthful and objective reporting of the facts, and more courage and less fear among our leaders and our people.

This particular version of the coronavirus is new and therefore its characteristics are somewhat unknown. I get that. So it’s been under a microscope, pun intended, for a few months now (since December 2019) like other coronavirus cousins of the recent past, SARS and MERS, until their characteristics where better known for tracking, prevention, containment, and future vaccinations.

So we’ve learned that [1] You can be contagious for 14 days before you have any flu like symptoms making it likely you will infect others during that time before you begin staying home to recover. [2] It’s not as contagious as its cousin influenza, the common version of the flu. [3] It’s up to 3x more fatal than the flu in the USA (2%vs.6%), especially in those with other health problems, compromised immune systems, and the elderly.

Just Doing What They Do

While I was pondering all the seemingly irrational reaction to this phenomena, and voicing it to one of my best friends who recently retired as a successful CEO of a large hospital and medical center, he helped me see a little better the medical origins of the scare and how some of those in the medical profession look at it. In a text he related the following:

Talked to couple of physicians yesterday p.m..  here’s another perspective:   They have both full resolve and are somewhat disheartened! On one hand, social separation strategy is aimed at getting us to warmer weather with people outside in the hopes the virus dissipates and goes away in 4-6 weeks.  Thus, saving lives potentially. They think of little else beyond that it seems – economics, jobs, etc.  In my experience this is typical doctor thinking. They are disheartened by the level of cynicism about this, feeling if it works people will say -“they over did it for nothing”. And if it doesn’t work that “ they weren’t prepared”. I can understand some of that. They blame the media by in large for distortion of reality – as I do – and the populous for falling for it. Interesting [their perspective] and thought I’d share. There are some warriors in healthcare, not all, and I love them for what they do.–

Thanks Bill! Well said! Insightful! True!

Medical people are just doing what they are trained to do. Treat patients. Educate people. They even practice drills on how to deal with epidemics or pandemics, to insure they can treat people with the disease while continuing to treat those routinely in their care. They are in many cases “warriors” who sacrifice of themselves to care for others, and we should love them for it, thank them for it, and honor them for it.

The real responsibility is with, I believe, our leaders, our media, and us, the people who’ve “fallen for it.”

The issue at this point is not to cast blame, but to do what we can to come out of it, while noting lessons that can be learned. Especially spiritual lessons.

Thanks Friends

Bob Goff

As the truth about the Coronavirus continues to be researched and debated in the privacy of homes, in the media, and on social media, I’m grateful for some of the best things my friends sent me yesterday. To provide different perspectives, and some big picture truth.

To be honest I’ve been a wee bit angry at our leaders, media, and people for letting fear of this flu virus escalate into panic that has very likely caused unnecessary damage to us all far exceeding anything the virus could have done. And I’m perplexed about all the fear and concern with so little evidence of the danger?

But alas, the possible small crisis has taken on a personality of its own and become a crisis, with little sign of abating until it runs its course. Still I’d like to stand against the storm in some small way and pray others will too. Pray may be the key word. There is One with power to act, and He hears prayer. In fact it’s His idea.

That said, yesterday I received a blog link through an email from my good friend and spiritual mentor for decades. Because I know his spiritual sensitivity, heart, and wisdom, I knew I should give credence to everything he said, and was feeling. So I did. It changed my attitude and helped me get on with the reality of the thing, and remembering people are important, and people serving people. And to be obedient and faithful in natural things, like the presidential directive, was practical and important.

It didn’t take away the truth from anything I was seeing or feeling, but it changed my focus to a trajectory in a healthier direction. Thank you Charles.

The next best thing I got was from a beautiful, sweet spiritual sister who had been very angry about what was happening too. We shared thoughts and she shared something from C.S Lewis someone sent her that deserves a blog all by itself without comment. Thank you Patty.

I share it here:

The following from C. S. Lewis. It was written in 1948 after the dawn of the atomic age.

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, 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 and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

Pondering A Virus

Already I feel a little bit silly spending almost a whole day pondering a virus. My research was completed rather quickly and can be by anyone a little bit savvy on the Internet. I feel there are much better uses of time. But since I’m into it, if it helps one person a little bit with their fear or faith, or looking at this objectively, I think it’s worth it.

First let me state my qualifications, which are few. I have a degree in mathematics from the University of Arkansas. However let me truthfully say that I feel more like an escapee than a graduate. That said with no false humility, I was exposed to statistics, many algorithms from algebra, geometry, calculus, number theory, and algebraic theory. So I’m mathematically ( the universal language ) inclined enough for simple deduction and reasoning, with statistical validity and error analysis skills, to look at this threat to humanity simply and objectively, by the numbers.

I’m using the KISS principle if you will, (Keep It Simple Stupid), which suits me and most of humankind I believe.

Definitions

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” Confucius

Solomon said 500 years earlier that,”The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” We won’t argue or even discuss the “beginning” part, which could be semantics or context? But I love history, and I love wisdom. I also like to view life through the eyes of the ancients, seeing what’s been valid enough or meaningful enough to be passed down through history as truth. Certainly when discussing or researching a matter and looking for truth, one has to be clear on words and their meanings, or “calling things by their right names.”

[1] co·ro·na·vi·rus: any of a group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals. Or if you prefer something from the medical community rather than the dictionary, this is from John Hopkins: A newly identified type (of coronavirus) has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19 that started in China.

[2] swine flu: The 2009 flu pandemic or swine flu was an influenza pandemic that lasted from early 2009 to late 2010, and the second of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus, albeit a new strain. And: According to the latest WHO statistics (as of July 2010), the virus has killed more than 18,000 people since it appeared in April 2009….” Wikipedia.

[3] Spanish flu: The 1918 influenza pandemic was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus, with the second being the swine flu in 2009. The Spanish flu infected 500 million people around the world, or about 27% of the world population of between 1.8 and 1.9 billion. Wikipedia

OK, simply put I’ve listed above three major outbreaks of the flu in history. Actually and factually the coronavirus isn’t even honorable mention yet. Check it out by the numbers you can search any day of the week. By any metric: total number of cases, how contagious, how fatal when contracted, etc. It’s just not that destructive by the numbers. And it’s hard to tell why the experts the media chooses to quote think it is? You get a different picture when you read medical journals, etc. So why don’t we? Is it because our default is to slave toward fear? Or slave to the media who make their money that way, having turned long ago from objective reporting of the facts to sensationalism and fear? Just a thought.

I’ll go ahead and prescribe my simple math operations to calculate and compare the threat the coronavirus is today compared with past versions of the flu in our country and perhaps the world. But I think a better approach might be to demonstrate what other experts are saying without being filtered through the media. And encourage you to turn off the hype and do some research yourself.

Numbers of People With The Virus

[1] # COVID-19 Cases CDC Reports as of March 16 / US Population = % of Population
3487 / 330,435,890 = .0011%
[2] #Swine flu Cases CDC Reports as November 2009/ US Population = % of Population
200,000 / 309,300,000 = .0645 %
[3] # Spanish flu Cases CDC Report 1918-1919 / US Population = % of Population
34,485,000 /104,500,000 = 33% (est. 1/3 of the population at the time)

Number of Deaths Due to The Virus

[1] # COVID-19 Deaths CDC Reports as of March 16 / US Population = % of Population
68 / 330,435,890 = .00002%
[2] #Swine flu Deaths CDC Reports as November 2009/ US Population = % of Population
10,000 / 309,300,000 = .0032%
[3] # Spanish flu Deaths CDC Report 1918-1919 / US Population = % of Population
675,000 / 104,500,000 = .646%

These are the numbers, verifiable from the CDC Website and from history. They certainly don’t indicate a pandemic yet, and if it were to become one, it seems likely to be small compared to 1918 and 2009. So it would seem to me the USA needs a good slap in the face to be snapped out of hysteria and back to reality.

Click here to see John Hopkins Medical folks tracking the world wide numbers.

Click here to see the up to date numbers in Arkansas on two maps.

Click here to see the up to date U.S. numbers as reported by the CDC.

There is some troubling uncertainty of course because it’s new, specifically the Italy numbers. I would assume they are accurate and growing while the numbers in China and South Korea are diminishing. But even the numbers as percentages of the population are quite small in all these countries.

Compare the coronavirus with another virus in the USA this year. According to a US News & World Report article February 7, 2020, “Influenza has taken the lives of 10,000 Americans this season. At least 19 million have caught the flu, with 180,000 landing in the hospital because of it.” “The CDC predicts that at least 12,000 Americans will die from the flu in any given year. As many as 61,000 people died in the 2017-2018 flu season, and 45 million were infected.”
That puts coronavirus in a different perspective with it 3487 cases and 68 deaths. It’s the flu season. Take precautions. Take courage. Live life, without fear.

Finally read this John Hopkins up-to-date article about COVID-19 and other such medical journal articles. They seem far away from the media’s hype and spin. You will get a much different perspective of the disease and the associated risk it poses to the health of our citizens and country. May you farewell.

Here are a couple quotes from the article. “As of Mar. 16, 2020, 6,705 deaths [world wide] have been attributed to COVID-19. However, 77,657 people have recovered from the illness.” “In rare cases, COVID-19 can lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure or death.” Does this sound like what you’ve been hearing?

If more people would take a positive, you might say “faith filled,” attitude about life, and exercise common sense with a historical perspective, there would be a lot more toilet paper, paper towels, and bleach on the shelves of our local markets. And our economy and our lives could return to normal. May it be so, and may it be soon.


“Overheard in an Orchard” by Elizabeth Cheney

Said the robin to the sparrow,”I would really like to know Why those anxious human beings rush around and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
such as cares for you and me.”

COVID-19 And We The People

Pandemic of Fear, Star date 5780, I mean March 11, 2020. That’s not really when this scare started, but the real date is obscure or unknown, much like its cause, the coronavirus, and COVID-19.

I picked that date because it is and was the last time the Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball team played in the SEC tournament in Nashville, TN in front of fans. By then the announcers assured their millions of viewers that the games would be played going forward in a mostly empty arena for precaution against spreading the coronavirus. The NBA had already, beyond belief, suspended the rest of their season including the 2020 championships. I wonder how much that cost the NBA, advertisers, TV networks, venues, and suppliers? The next day as I and my wife, who is more of a sports fan than me, settled in to watch the South Carolina v.s. Arkansas game, I couldn’t find it? Soon it became clear and known that the SEC suspended or canceled the tournament. The following day the NCAA cancelled March Madness, and the 2020 college championship series!? Our TV has been off since then.

I know it’s only sports. But I also know it’s something these young men have trained for most of their lives experiencing sacrifice, effort, courage, endurance, and skill. Like the Olympics it reminds us of what’s best and most most admirable in humans and the human experience. For this to be ripped away from them, a once in a life time opportunity to show who they are and the team or community they love, is tragic, — if it’s for no compelling reason.

This is March Madness! I’m thinking now. For what? Why? I keep waiting for some valid reason, some evidence of the impending disaster, but none has appeared. Except the obvious, to me anyway — fear, fear of law suits, fear of the unknown.

Fear on an irrational scale. Fear is largely irrational by the way. We may get to that later. But fear on an irrational scale at an irrational rate, made possible by information technology at everyone’s fingertips or in their pockets. As my M.D. cousin said this morning by phone, “The media is feeding oxygen to the flame (of unmerited fear).”

I am a trusting person, largely because of good and faithful parents, a good community of faith growing up, and a trustworthy relationship for many years with the God of the Bible and his son Jesus Christ.

I want to believe there is a reason for all this March madness. I believe there are scientists and wise people who work on such matters, whose main concern is human welfare. I’ll gladly admit I’m wrong if this turns into a real pandemic, and applaud their efforts to prevent it or contain it. I am just saying to date, Pandemic of Fear Day 5, I see much chaos and havoc, and do not see that much evidence for its cause.

In my next blog, I’ll cover my sources, the kind I would suggest to anyone trying to sort real news from fake news. There’s so much out there, so I’ll keep it simple. And, I realize I’m speaking against the storm. But my summary to date is exercise caution, then choose courage not fear, and choose life.

I heard Dr. Ben Carson speak in our city a few years back and he ended his most excellent speech with these words. “American will continue to be the land of the free, as long as she’s the home of the brave.”

March Madness

I think maybe it’s time to start at the gym? Maybe today? I know in light of all the coronavirus chatter in the media, you may think that’s the last thing I should do? But God told Jeremiah the prophet that even though the children of Israel were going to go into Babylon as captives that he should buy a piece of property, put the deed in a jar, and bury it — a symbol that the Lord would have mercy and that they would be coming back to the land.

I don’t know if that’s really apropos to this article but that’s what I am hearing this morning as I ponder and write. These days I find what really brings me joy and what I’m passionate about is spending time with God: reading, journaling, and sometimes sharing what I see with the faith community and seekers, on the web via this blog, maybe in preparation for another book.

But I feel compelled or at least the freedom to pause this morning and talk about the coronavirus. I promise I’ll get back to doing what I’m passionate about very soon, and stay there. Abiding is key for all of us in these days.

I haven’t written about the pandemic — and even thought about it that much. If it is a pandemic? It seems more like a pandemic of “fear.” Shutting off life to a relatively healthy culture and economy to me.

In the early morning hours my son has been texting that he’s been called back to New York City from the West Coast where he’s been visiting successful businesses—to discuss [1] If he should come into the office since he’s been traveling? [2] If they should close some stores?
Mind you, this is an expanding, healthy, thriving business until the “scare.”

Locally, store shelves are empty of toilet paper, paper towels, breathing masks, and who knows what else?

Of course I’ve been curious, even incredulous, at the wide sweeping closures and paranoia about this supposed threat to public health, our nation, and our way of life.

So I check the web from time to time to see the numbers of people who are infected with the disease and who have died because of it, as best as can be known in this instant information age, and compare it with the total populations of the countries and what has happened historically with other viral infections, commonly known as the flu, since the Influenza outbreak in the early 1900s.

Very few! One could say extremely few statistically. As this has progressed a few days now, the statistics on the spreading virus haven’t climbed as one would expect given all the hysteria, yet the hysteria seems to escalate.

This prompts me to think and say, “It’s the flu, people.”

Sadly, there will be people die from it. And I’m sad about that, and would not say anything to diminish their pain or that of their loved ones. Death hurts, and leaves a void. But it’s also a part of life and living.

I don’t fear death, largely due to faith in Jesus Christ, the One who overcame it for Himself, for me, and for millions who call upon his Name and put their trust in Him.

Even without faith in God, Jesus, the hereafter, or the Bible; it doesn’t make sense to fear death, the flu, or anything else so much that you quit living your life with courage and joy.

Yes wash your hands with soap and hot water, which is my M.D. daughter tells me is a better protection from viruses than wipes. But use both if you like, and keep informed about real news and real numbers and take precautions until the threat subsides or it is better known.

But don’t let it rob you of life and living – a single day. Death comes too soon to all of us for that. Life is a precious gift to be used, enjoyed, spent, and given away or shared with others.

Choose life!

“…So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” Deuteronomy 30:19b