Einstein said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” The pandemic and explosion of events beginning in 2020 certainly did that to Americans and the world. As busy lives slowed to a crawl, isolated people worked thousands of puzzles, and people got outside, slowing to the pace of living and to being human. This book of 70 short chapters or puzzle pieces makes sense of what we experienced from a perspective of spiritual, historical, and current events. It also provides inspiration and insight to live hopeful, meaningful, courageous lives. Enjoy!
Many things were stripped away from our lives as we pondered how to stay healthy. Some reacted in fear, and some in faith. It caused everyone to reexamine who they trusted for valid information about safety, health, and hope for the future. Puzzling these events, even after two years, a resolution is still inconclusive. This book seeks to answer some basic questions: “Where are we? How did we get here? Where do we go from here, or how do we live in these puzzling times?” We look to the Bible, history, and God for insight and truth — and for grace to live with purpose and without fear. These puzzle pieces will help you “Light a candle, instead of cursing the darkness.” Click here to order.
Dwayne Bell holds degrees in mathematics and theology, and was a school teacher before pursuing a career in aviation. He served in the United States Air Force and reserves for twenty years flying F-16 fighter aircraft while concurrently concluding a twenty-five-year career as an airline pilot, flying Boeing 777s to Europe and Asia. He retired early to begin a new chapter of kingdom life and adventures. He enjoys back country flying, writing, photography, and biking. He and Elizabeth, his wife of forty-seven years, make their home in Springdale, Arkansas. You can reach Dwayne at: www.afriendoftheking.com
We recently received a new mezuzah. Our good friend Flora went to Israel last month on a spiritual pilgrimage with a friend and brought one back at the request of my wife to replace a cracked one on our back door. Ours has been with us since our first trip to Israel with friends in 1994.
A mezuzah is a small half-cylinder container that Jewish folks have affixed to their doorways for centuries, if not millennia. They contain specific, short Torah portions of Scripture to remind them (and us) to revere the commandments and keep them: “Write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house” (Deuteronomy 6:9; 11:20).
Many will touch or kiss the mezuzah (a Hebrew word for “doorposts”) as they enter and exit their homes in a show of affection and loyalty — to be grateful for the commandments and live by them. These are affixed on many Jewish homes, whether they are observant or not, and the homes of many Christians who wish to honor the roots of their faith and show their thankfulness for the commandments, celebrating the Giver.
Placing the new mezuzah and relooking at the inside scroll made me think again about the doorways of our homes and hearts. Who keeps or guards those for you? Are you mindful and grateful for what enters your home or doesn’t? Of who or what protects your home or doesn’t?
Two chapters in my newest book Puzzling 2020, came to mind as I pondered these thoughts. One was entitled “Israel ישראל” because it’s a piece of the puzzle in our day and any day. The other is entitled “Cell Phones” because of the entrance they give to our homes by outsiders and influences 24/7/365, crowding our space for solitude, silence, meditation, and being alone with our thoughts — something prized and valuable to humans since the beginning of time.
Here’s a blurb from the upcoming book: ’’A couple of years before my mom passed away, she gave me a book for Christmas entitled, ‘What in the World is Going On?: 10 Prophetic Clues You Cannot Afford to Ignore’ by David Jeremiah. When I opened the cover, the first words staring at me were ׳May 14, 1948.׳ I knew immediately it would be good, and I read it in very few settings.
“Israel has been a part of the puzzle from the beginning, in God’s mind, and God’s eyes. And she will be until the end. You can’t read the Bible or history and fail to see that. Her presence in the world and history is too remarkable to overlook. I would like to plunge into all the evidence for that statement, but a book like this won’t permit it. Accept it by faith and evidence. Then keep your eyes and ears open to whatever the Lord will show you about the small nation, and what she teaches us and the world about the Lord.
’’All you need to know is that Israel is highly favored by God, and any wise, God-fearing person will bless them and support them any way possible. Abraham, the father of the faith, is also the father of Israel. In the first book of the Bible, about four thousand years ago, we see God make Abraham a promise: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
’’A brief, telling look at history is to look at all the nations who have blessed Israel, and all the nations who have cursed Israel. Note what happens to them. A couple of God’s attributes acted out in history tell the tale. First, God doesn’t lie or change His mind: ‘God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?’ (Numbers 23:19 NIV). Secondly, even if people or nations don’t keep their word to God, He keeps His Word. It’s Who He is: ‘If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself’ (2 Timothy 2:13).
’’Allow me to wrap up this introduction by quoting three observations about Israel by well-known people. King Louis XIV of France asked Blaise Pascal, the great French philosopher and mathematician, to give him proof of the supernatural. Pascal answered: ’Why, the Jews, your Majesty ― the Jews.’”
I then recall famous quotes by Mark Twain and Leo Tolstoy and give other evidence for Israel’s remarkable place in history and the world.
Here’s another blurb from the book: “We were talking about this book, and the topic of cell phones came up — how much they affected the world’s population, especially the youth or the next generation. We were talking about deception, but our discussion was broad. I asked Mugger to recap some of the thoughts we shared, mostly his. Here they are:
‘Social media is a way to inform and influence the entire world instantly. The control of SM (social media) controls the message people receive, a good way to get a consensus on social and moral issues since most people do not filter what they receive. It has instant credibility, especially with young people and the unthinking. It used to be ‘as seen on TV,’ now it’s ‘as seen on Twitter.’ Controlling people’s thoughts makes a one-world government easier to sell.
“Cell phones now connect the world because the infrastructure is much easier than landlines. Only a couple of decades ago, a significant percentage of the world population was isolated in its location and culture. Now kids in third-world countries can explore an entire world their parents never even knew existed. That can be good, except when the content is controlled. It’s a great way to indoctrinate the next generation. Maybe there was safety in isolation.
“Kids now live through their phones rather than reality. Their reality is what’s on the phone. They sit together in groups working on their phones rather than interacting with the person next to them. Apparently, the virtual reality in their phone is better than the reality of the present moment. They develop a false sense of what real life is. They are exposed to humanistic junk, porn, and leftist ideology, all at an early age, rather than having a chance to grow up as kids playing sandlot ball, etc. Despite parental controls, they can get exposed to all kinds of stuff well above their maturity level that they can’t process properly.
“Cell phones and SM are the perfect tools to generate one-world group think.”
Give a little thought to the commandments — God’s ways. Give a little thought to the portals of your life — what you allow in and keep out. There is much to be gained or forfeited in these two activities. Godspeed as you journey.
Greetings and welcome again to a current thought and my newest book Puzzling 2020.
I consider this book a somewhat eclectic group of puzzle pieces that when connected describe  where we are as a culture and church,  how we got here, and  how we should live in these strange times going forward. It’s addressed mainly to the community of faith and Christians, but truth is truth wherever you find it, and we all profit when we know the truth and act accordingly. “Nothing gives rest but the sincere search for truth” (Blaise Pascal).
In addressing where we are and how we got here I chose to simply point to a time in Bible history 3500 years ago when God spoke through Moses a blessing and a warning to a nation. True it was a nation, Israel, who had entered into a covenant with Him, at His invitation and by their free will. But since He’s the God of creation and the King of the universe, (the same yesterday, today, and forever), these conditions for grace and blessing, judgment and correction have been true for Israel and all the nations of faith and the whole earth for millennia as demonstrated throughout history.
When I first got the vision and leading for this book, I considered a title like Bonhoeffer, Isaiah, and Solzhenitsyn. I knew that would never fly for a title, but it described what I was seeing. These men lived in times very much like our own, in nations that were not only ignoring God, but shaking their fists at Him, going there own way, ignoring the Bible and His ways while making policies and laws in direct opposition to His truths. The three named above were seers, who saw where this would lead, tried to do something about it by speaking the words of the Lord to the people and their leaders. But the people wouldn’t listen. They were blinded by an enemy, and determined to go their own way, until the evil, injustices, and cancer of their sins invited the action of the Almighty, to save the whole, make a correction, and protect people going forward from themselves. People of faith in Germany, Israel, and Russia had read, but apparently forgotten Deuteronomy 28.
“Where are we, and how did we get here — as a church and nation? Doesn’t that seem puzzling? It is to most if they are even aware our churches and country have plunged into some moral morass. This swamp has economic, health care, political, national, energy, business, security, and international ramifications unheard of and unexpected two short decades ago. “Shortly after the COVID outbreak began in 2020, I read this chapter in a daily quiet time of reflecting and engaging the Bible. Deuteronomy 28 is timely and timeless in describing what’s happening in America and speaks to what we need to do in response. As our country went into isolation for the better part of two years, that gave us time and a chance to ponder our ways, consider what was happening, and why it might be happening. “This chapter of the Bible describes an isolated situation. Still, it’s far from isolated in its summary and the story it tells for ancient Israel, Israel through the ages, all nations through the ages, and the USA today. “I encourage you to read and meditate on the entire chapter so you can see its relevance. The message is very plain — the imagery is clear and explicit.”
I go on to quote a good portion of chapter 28 which is very straightforward but not unique in the Bible: “…, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them [emphasis added]“ (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
Daniel and “The Respect for Marriage Act”
As you’re no doubt aware the bipartisan congress of our country passed the act referenced above and the president signed it into law two days ago. Our country and the West has been on this tact for sometime. But this is the most incriminating, public, line-in-the-sand crossing to date. It remains to be seen how and when the Lord will react, and when and if people of faith will wake up and speak up publicly, and to the Lord in prayer.
Yesterday the thought came to me of how Daniel reacted when the bureaucrats, not the wise men, of Persia, the most powerful nation on the earth, pushed through a very bad law. Daniel, the prime minister, and one loved by the King of Persia, and the King of Kings, at great risk to himself, went on to do what he always did, in direct opposition to the bad law, honoring and fearing God more than man. “Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously” (Daniel 6:10).
Has something changed with this latest law being passed and enacted? It seems to me something is changing with the publication of Eric Metaxas’ new book Letter to the American Church. And other books like Strange New World by Carl R. Truman, and a host I’m hearing about but haven’t become familiar. It seems that the Spirit might be leading us to say and do things differently going forward. Stay tuned or wake up! Whatever and whichever applies. Follow Daniel’s lead. More to follow…
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be” (Thomas Jefferson).
“Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe” (Thomas Jefferson).
Go ahead! Write that book. “…Give wings to the truth…” (Gutenberg).
All along the authoring path I’ve had people pull me aside and ask questions about the process of writing and publishing a book. So it’s time to speak to that briefly while it’s fresh on my mind.
As far as writing goes, I suggest to aspiring authors, “Just write!” Journal, blog, or communicate with your pen or computer whenever you feel inspired, or are given some opportunity or occasion to express yourself. All practice hones and improves your skill and effectiveness. You know if you enjoy writing and if you have something burning in you to communicate or there’s a message you want to share. Take opportunities and practice.
Personally, I journal a lot and find more and more that inspiration comes as I write. Much of my current book was lifted off the pages of my journals these past two years. In the early morning while fresh is the best time or whenever you feel inspired with thoughts or insights you haven’t known or considered before. Keep a journal or notebook handy.
It seems that the biggest reason people don’t follow through on writing or the dream of publishing a book is the mysterious publishing aspect of the process. That’s what I want to address briefly while it’s fresh on my mind. In a word, what it’s come down to for me is Booknook.biz.
This is my third book so I’m no expert, but I’ll share my experience thus far and at the moment. Amazon is the easiest place to publish — certainly for beginning authors. Their publishing company is Kindle Direct Publishing known as KDP. One can go to their website and they will lead you through their publishing process once you have your book ready as a PDF document.
However, there are “conversion” companies who exist for good reason. They help guide authors through the maze at KDP and perhaps make your book look a good deal more professional than it might otherwise, while avoiding some common pitfalls — for a price, usually a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the size and complexity of your book.
After researching the web for the best of these services I chose Booknook.biz and couldn’t be more pleased. They are pleasant, professional, service-oriented, and they employ an excellent website and secure email model to help guide you from start to finish through the Amazon publishing process. They also use a good deal of humor to keep you at ease and in the proper state of mind, during the stressful moments culminating in the publishing process, when you’re trying to get your book finished and get it right.
Kimberly Hitchens is the owner of Booknook.biz, “An Amazon Professional Conversion Service.” She and her staff have hundreds of books under their belts, (actually over 7,000 ebooks and 1,000 paperbacks, over the last 13 years by actual count) and many in production at any given time. They are physically located in Arizona, but everything is done on line. You can read testimonials and reviews here.
Their main service and value is taking your Word or Pages document containing your book, and formatting it to a PDF that is industry standard, artful, pleasing to the eye and attractive to the reader. That’s what you then submit to Amazon/KDP through their website. They also educate you about everything from ISBN numbers to print and book size, with sage suggestions. If you wish help to create a striking, professional cover, which I recommend, they can connect you with those services too, for an additional fee.
We read in the Old and New Testaments: “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7b). Booknook.biz is one of the most reasonably priced services, and they will expeditiously get your job done on a first come, first serve basis, saving you hours of format correction time. This alone makes them worth their wages. When you throw in their expertise in making your book the right size, look professional, avoid common missteps, and be aesthetically pleasing, it’s a no-brainer to employ their services — unless perhaps you are technically skilled and have the simplest of books. You’ve spent a lot of time and energy writing your book. It’s time to make it the best looking book it can be to expand its reach, make it successful, have your message heard, and give it wings.
Send them your text document containing your book and they’ll give you a free quote. For one fee, they can guide you in preparing your book so it’s ready to be printed on demand by Amazon as a hard cover, soft cover, and/or an eBook. Within a matter of days after your Booknook.biz-assisted submission to Amazon/KDP, your book will be available for purchase and shipping anywhere in the country. Enjoy your journey, and Godspeed as you write and publish what you’ve dreamed in your heart to share.
Oh yes, a word needs be said about editors. Every author needs an editor — another set of eyes and an objective mind to guard against grammatical and mechanical (spelling, punctuation, etc.) errors making your work more readable and enjoyable for your audience. I have a very good friend who’s adept at that, shares my vision for writing, and can also advise me on content due to his wisdom, education, and world view. I will mention I used Grammarly this time, to make his job easier, and my writing perhaps a bit crisper. I feel they are worth the expense. If you don’t have an editor, Booknook.biz can put you in contact with one, for an additional fee of course. That is tedious work.
I’m not sure if writing is a gift, a calling, or a dream — maybe all of those — but I do feel it’s important along with all I’ve shared to spend some time alone, in nature, and in community or people’s lives for inspiration and leading on what to say and how to say it. The most important aspect may be to spend time alone with God while you’re in these places — it is for me. His blessings and leading to you as you write!
Sunrise view to the east from the remote mountain top near our cabin — solitude
“Religious truth is captive in a small number of manuscript books, which guard the common treasure, instead of diffusing it. Let us break the seal which holds the holy things; give wings to the truth that by means of speech, no longer written at great expense by the hand that wearies itself, but multiplied as the air by an unwearied machine, it may fly to seek every soul born into the world!”
Johannes Gutenberg (Inventor of the printing press, Mainz, Germany, 1436)
On Election Day, November 8, during her early morning neighborhood walk my wife sent me this quote someone tweeted: “Before you vote please fill up your car with gas, buy your groceries for the week, take a peek at your retirement account, and look at current government spending.”
What’s happening at the moment to our economy and way of life is no mystery to those who carefully read their Bibles and have some grasp of history. I would recommend Deuteronomy 28, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich as a beginning place. No socialistic, secular-humanist people have lasted long as a nation. Without God’s blessings and actions in our individual and corporate lives we implode, make poor decisions, become easy targets for our enemies, and demonstrate we really do need Him — unable to rule ourselves.
In my upcoming book Puzzling 2020, Connecting the Pieces I mention that I don’t put my hope in the political process or politics. I do think politics are important and touch our lives deeply at times in very personal ways, so I vote and pray for candidates with the best character to win. I encourage my friends to do the same. But my hope is in God, the Rock, the Everlasting One — the God of history and Ruler of nations.
I recall now a favorite quote from Charles Simpson: “Good men can make a bad system work, but bad men can’t even make a good system work.” God is the X factor in making men and women, as well as nations comprised of the same, flourish or perish, for their own benefit.
A few relevant Bible verses come to mind: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). And, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan” (Proverbs 29:2).
Before leaving you with these thoughts to ponder as fodder for action, I’ll give a shout out to an excellent book addressing this subject in an insightful way. Its title is Letter to the American Church by Eric Metaxas. Our 20/20 Men’s Book Club and friendship group is currently reading it. I’m only 10 pages into this succinct 139-page book and can see it’s worth the money and time spent reading it already. May God bless you and yours.
“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain’” (Psalm 2:1-6 NASB).
“But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20b NKJV).
“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.”
Greetings All, my blog has been rather silent for the past weeks and months as I’ve focused on finishing my third book Puzzling 2020. It should be available in mid December, and I’m very excited. The book’s cover blurb speaks to its purpose:
“Einstein said, ‘Adversity introduces a man to himself.’ The pandemic and explosion of events beginning in 2020 certainly did that to Americans, both the culture and the church. Many things were stripped away from our lives as we pondered how to stay healthy. Some reacted in fear, and some in faith. It caused everyone to reexamine who they trusted for valid information about safety, health, and hope for the future. Puzzling these events, even after two years, a resolution is still inconclusive. This book seeks to answer some basic questions: “Where are we? How did we get here? Where do we go from here, or how do we live in these puzzling times?” We look to the Bible, history, and God for insight and truth — and for grace to live with purpose and without fear. These puzzle pieces will help you “Light a candle, instead of cursing the darkness.”
I hope you’ll give it a look. I think it certainly gives readers a better grasp on where we are as a culture and church, and more importantly, a healthy paradigm or world view for how to live in our day — the present, a gift from our Creator God.
Its seventy short chapters, or puzzle pieces, could be used as a devotional or daily meditation. Hopefully it will bring spiritual sight, light, joy, and renewed purpose.
By using the Descartes quote I didn’t mean to claim a “fine mind,” but simply give a shoutout to reading as a spiritual discipline. By reading, you humble yourself to hear someone else’s thoughts. You also slow yourself, still yourself, and are alone with your thoughts as you read, away from the din of the media, technology, and rush of our time. It’s like a mini vacation refreshing the soul.
Shalom, and stay tuned for more frequent blogs this beautiful autumn.
“Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.” ― Aristotle
This line came to me in the early morning as I was lying in bed and contemplating all that I had been reading in Voddie Bacuham Jr.’s “Fault Lines.” But it sounded sort of harsh and judgmental so I didn’t want to use it, until I looked up the meaning of the word “crock.”
NOUN 1. an earthenware pot or jar. a broken piece of earthenware 2. (informal) something considered to be compete nonsense.
VERB cause an injury to (a person or part of the body)
It fits what I thought when I first heard the phrase “black lives matter,” in light of Scripture and a world view informed by Scripture. It’s nonsense and nothing that should be attractive to a Christian with a Biblical world view. So it’s shocking to me that many well-meaning Christians have fallen for the deception, including a few well known Christian leaders. It’s another gospel, such as Paul warned the early church against, and a very inferior one.
I know I’m not going to convince anyone who believes the Black Lives Matter deception on a blog with a few paragraphs, nor do I wish to try. I’ve done you the biggest favor I can by recommending to you the best book that could possibly be written on the subject, with the best research, outline, and clarity; treated with the most honor, respect, and kindness. The search for truth is up to you. You’ve probably heard the Proverb, “One side sounds right until another comes and presents his case.”
I’ll just leave you with two thoughts from Voddie Baucham and his book. “So when Zambians began to ask me questions about the murderous and corrupt American police hunting down black men, I could not remain silent. I began to tell the stories and raise the issues that I will share with you…”
He goes on to say that the United States is the least racially prejudiced country he’s ever known or visited. After a twenty-five year career as an airline pilot, and the last fifteen of it flying internationally, I would whole heartedly agree. So who came up with this narrative (lies unfounded in fact or by evidence)? Who? What? When? Where? Why? And what are the facts?
You should ask these questions, and then decide what you believe. It’s important for you personally, for your church, for your culture, for your country. Ask God in prayer to show you truth, and the truth of this matter.
Oh, one last thing! Be kind and loving when you discuss this. You usually don’t fight fire with fire, but with water. You fight lies with truth, simple truth, spoken in love. And you trust God to do the heavy lifting. He’s the only One Who can fix this deception. Pray that He will be willing and do so.
Continue to enjoy your life of adventure and love with Him and in Him. The world changer, Paul the Apostle, said his mission was this, “To [preach] Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” [I Cor 2:2] He said his passion was this, “To know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering….”[Phil 3:10] It would seem profitable and wise to do the same.
“I am not an African. I am not an African American. I am an American, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else. America doesn’t owe me anything. American has blessed me beyond measure. If anything, I owe America.” These words are quoted from “Fault Lines“ written by Voddie Baucham Jr., a man’s man, raised as a boy by a single mom in Watts. They are printed along with a complete look at the current social and church issues of “social justice,” “Black Lives Matter,” “critical race theory,” “intersectionality,” etc. which are part and parcel of the same world view. He has read their background material carefully and quotes it accurately to show how it distorts truth, history, and the Bible. He does all this with a very kind, but prophet-like, child-like honesty.
This is the most important book I’ve read this year. I’ll probably blog about it and these issues a couple more times then move on to more productive things. But it’s a deception that needs to be exposed and addressed, so you can take a stand, or understand what’s being said, why it’s being said, and what’s at stake. Do your own research, but this book is a good place to start and end. The 20/20 men’s reading and friendship group that meets in my home recently spent four sessions discussing it and we all feel the same way.
Warning, there are parts of it that are a bit academic, but that’s because he’s a college president and an academic himself. Also, the terms and their meanings have to be defined and understood before they can be discussed. But his story telling, personal history, and Spirit-led sharpness shines throughout and certainly in the end.
It’s hard hitting, factual, informative, and he addresses the things you’ve wondered about, as the media have promoted the worldview of the radical dissidents in reporting the violence and looting of the protesters.
In the end it’s going to be a good jumping off place or segue to several blogs on lies and deception, world wide delusion really, which has been an interest and study of mine for some time, and something the Spirit continually points out to me as the main answer to, “How can these things be happening?” In the church of Jesus Christ, no less!
It you’ve been puzzled by this topic, and these events of the last year, along with the pandemic, this is a good read, and a good place to start, in your search for the truth of the matter, and what to do about it. Godspeed as you journey, and shalom.
The winter solstice just passed a few days ago, December 21, the shortest day of the year. On that day there also appeared in the sky a planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. There was a lot of hubbub about it because it’s so rare, occurring about once every 800 years. There were lots of articles in newspapers, magazines, and the visual media hailing it as the Star of Bethlehem.
I personally don’t believe it was the star of Bethlehem. Rather the Bethlehem star was a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus which appeared in December, 2 BC, over Jerusalem as viewed from the East, modern day Iraq or Iran, ancient Persia, making it the brightest star anyone alive had ever seen.
There is something in the human psyche that both loves and loathes mystery. We want to know all we can, and yet we are attracted to the unknown. We like to puzzle things out for ourselves and we like to learn from what others have puzzled out.
Signs in the Sky and Wise Men from the East
I think that Rick Larson got it right in his 2015 DVD titled “The Star of Bethlehem.” He is an attorney, and after reading the biblical account in Matthew chapter 2 came up with nine clues about the star as evidence to what it might have been. That’s what lawyers do. Then he purchased some astronomy software that allows one to view the actual sky and stars on any given date and time from any point on earth. What he discovered is what makes this presentation so riveting.
He contends that in September, 3 BC the king planet Jupiter made three close passes or conjunctions with the king star Regulus, in the constellation of Leo the lion. Many theorize along with Larson that this rare astronomical event, or sign in the sky, may have been anticipated and handed down to the magi from the chief of the magi, Daniel the Hebrew prophet, when he served the kings of Babylon and Persia who in their time ruled the whole known world.
And that the magi made preparation at that time, then followed the king planet Jupiter nine months later as it arrived at it’s conjunction with Venus, and that would lead them to the location of the most famous King who would ever be born, the King of the Jews.
On December 25, 2 BC, the star (Jupiter) was over Bethlehem, 5 miles south as viewed from Jerusalem, and appeared stopped (in retrograde.)
The magi followed it, along with new information from the Hebrew Scriptures provided by Herod’s scribes that Bethlehem was the place of the Messiah’s birth. They went to worship the King, who was a toddler by that time, then returned secretly to their home country, with great joy!
The conjunction a few days ago was unusual because of its rarity, but it wasn’t that bright, and even with the naked eye one could see a little space between the two planets.
What did the wisemen see in the stars that sent them on their journey? It appears that it was the king planet coming very close to the king star, three times in rapid succession, in the constellation of the lion. The lion is the animal representation of the tribe of Judah in Israel. A prophecy that Daniel and the Magi would have known is that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. (Genisis 49:10) And following that, Jupiter coming in conjunction with Venus, stacked to make them appear as one, very-bright star.
I wonder what the sky looked like to them when they started their 700 mile trek, full of anticipation, awe, and intrigue?
“After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Matthew 2:9-10
To watch the best YouTube video of “The Star of Bethlehem” click here, and the information for ordering the DVD with better resolution and bonus material is listed below it. Enjoy!
My first interaction with China was in June 2008. I flew a Boeing 777 to Shanghai from Chicago for American Airlines and spent a couple days in the city. I know Shanghai is more western and showy than the rest of China because of its history and interaction with the West. But I will never forget what I saw there; its vibe, its raw economic and technological power.
My second and most recent encounter with China was yesterday. I tested positive for COVID-19.
I had experienced symptoms for a few days of what I was pretty certain was a common cold, an intermittent wet cough and a mild headache. But I was planning to fly today to a Bible conference and visit some friends in Monroe Louisiana, so I thought it prudent to be tested.
And just like that, the trip was canceled, and I began the prescribed 14-day quarantine from the first day of coughing, along with my beautiful bride who now must also assume she’s contagious, although she’s asymptomatic.
I hope it’s not too much togetherness for her! 🙂 We will try to social distance in the house, using different bedrooms and bathrooms, practice excessive hand washing, and wearing masks if we need to be closer than six feet. But our daughter who is a MD says she is likely to get it anyway. I don’t know many people personally who have contracted COVID-19, less than ten I think, but in every case except one where there was a couple involved, they both got it.
I hope and pray if she gets it, her symptoms will be mild like mine. 99% of the cases reportedly are. The mystery and variety of the 1% is what’s troubling.
The biggest pain for us is the restriction of freedom. Not going out to eat, to shop, to run errands, etc. But we will make the best of it. Lots of reading, writing and journaling for me — that’s not a big change. It will be harder for her.
As someone said early in the pandemic, their baseboards have never been so clean. Those of you who know my wife know they’re already clean. I’ll probably have to get them re-painted after this!
Our kids called last night concerned, but also pointing out this could be a good thing and good timing going into the holidays, as we’ll be immune and not worried about getting it or giving it to others! 🙂
A bird just flew into our windows with a thud. Then it flew away in a bit of shock, confusion and with a headache, if birds get headaches?
I guess that’s what having COVID-19 myself means for me spiritually? I feel like I’m awake spiritually, and walking in light, His light. But how does one really know? Deception has the intrinsic quality that if you are deceived — you don’t know it.
But that bird knows it now! Whatever he or she saw enticing or encouraging full speed flight into our window was a mistake. It was caused by an illusion, a wrong perception, not seeing things as they really are.
China — A Piece of the Puzzle
My COVID-19 story has gotten long, so my China musings will be brief. They will serve as an introduction for you possibly of what has recently come onto my personal radar.
A few weeks ago a retired CEO in our 2020 book club and men’s group told us about a secular book he was reading about China. The author is an intellectual, a think tank person, but one who has advised several US presidents on foreign policy and international affairs.
I have not read the book yet, but I will. As our CEO friend shared from his notes and then a summary, it became clear that political China is an enemy of the United States of America. Also that they are probably already the world’s leading economic power, and on a course to be the world’s leading military power. The author, for reasons I won’t go into at this juncture, sees a future war with China as probable if not in inevitable.
I’m coming to see that China may be to us what ancient Babylon was to Judah before 586 BC — on the rise. A tiger. A dragon. Read Habakkuk, as he asks the Lord about what he was seeing in Babylon and Judah, and what would be the outcome of it all?
Ask yourself, “Why did China suspend all flights from Wuhan into China while releasing flights into the rest of the world?”
I’ll build my case later for this. But I see China as a major piece of the puzzle for life in the U.S. and on the planet in the next chapter, even in this present darkness.
They are to us a formidable enemy on the rise like Babylon was to Judah before 586 BC. It depends on the prayers and repentance of the church when and whether they come.
Either way one can read Habakkuk and see the Lord’s discussion with the prophet as how it might play out. And more importantly how a true believer will act and regard these times and those times, if it happens the way I’m describing.
To complicate the matter, although it’s not complicated to the Lord, almost certainly the largest and healthiest church in the world is the underground church in China. Its size is estimated about the same as the US population currently. They are our kingdom brothers and sisters in the true faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So while they are our true friends, their government is our true enemy. The situation merits watching, just like watching Israel .
You may recall Jesus told us to be alert for the signs that point to the end of the age, or the latter days, and his return.
Israel has always been one of those signs and will always be, because of God’s promises to them and to the nations who treat them well or treat them poorly.
I’ve often thought China would loom large and be a major player in the end time events. Now there is much evidence this is the case. And the time could be now, in the coming decades, maybe even in just a few years?
More on this later but let me point you to a few books and publications that point to the truth and evidence of what I’m suggesting.
Also about Christian life in China’s underground church: Bold as a Lamb Ken Anderson The Story of Samuel Lamb
My Advice & My Personal Tact
Stay awake. Stay alert. Stay close.
Abide in the vineyard. Stay close to the Master. Be like Habakkuk at the end of his book. The Lord bless and keep you. The Lord turn his face toward you and be gracious to you. The Lord cause his countenance to shine upon you and give you peace. Amen [Numbers 6:24-26]
“O LORD, I have heard the report of You; I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds. Revive them in these years; make them known in these years. In Your wrath, remember mercy!” Hab 3:3
“Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.” Hab 3:17-19
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you….” Psalm 91:1-3a