Thoughts on the Pandemic; Part 1

In Africa, they’re dealing with locusts AND Covid-19

Well, since I can’t promote my new book because no one can buy it right now, because “virus,” I might as well weigh in on the biggest news story since 9/11.  (Update: Books are finally available, wherever amazingly awesome books are sold. Like here.)

My weight on this issue is about 1.25 micrograms, because I am completely uncredentialed, unqualified, and unequipped to know much about what’s going on. (Which puts me in the same boat as 99.99% of the other people expressing strong opinions online and on television right now.)

What follows are a few random thoughts and observations as of Sunday morning, April 19, 2020. By April 20, some of these thoughts will almost certainly have been modified. 

1. This virus caught us unprepared. But it shouldn’t have.

We’ve had smart, knowledgeable people warning us for years that we’d dodged bullets with outbreaks like H1N1, H5N1, and other mutations of the flu. I tend to read lots of science blogs and I’ve seen scores of warnings over the last 15 or 20 years—warnings that anticipated the very thing we’re facing right now.  

(Which makes it both hilarious and kind of sad that some people think Bill Gates’ TedTalk warning a few years ago consitutes some sort of smoking gun that he helped create the Covid-19 virus. More on conspiracy theories in my next post.)

Nevertheless, we weren’t remotely ready when this thing popped up in China and started spreading around the planet via airliners and cruise ships. So, we needed to buy some time to hurriedly do what we should have already done. Which leads me to my next point.

2. This quarantine business was always a Band-Aid, not a cure. 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that a lot of people think we have to keep sheltering in place with huge chunks the economy frozen until nearly all risk is gone. 

That was never the plan. It can’t be the plan. 

The whole rationale of “flatten the curve” was to buy time for our medical infrastructure to get equipped to handle a lot of sick, infected/infectious people. Ventilators and personal protective equipment needed to be stockpiled. Beds needed to be readied. Virus tests and antibodies tests needed to be developed, mass produced and distributed.

But gradually over the last few weeks, the media, half our politicians, and a whole lot of Americans obviously started thinking that the quarantine HAD to remain in place until it was perfectly safe for everyone to go back to the way things were three months ago. 

Again, no.

This untenable belief quickly emerged for a several reasons. 

First, people trained in planning for and dealing with large-scale events with lots of unknowns and variables (such as planning for wars and natural disasters) are taught to envision and plan for “worst case scenarios.” 

People charged with knowing how to win wars before they start and address earthquakes before they happen must create models and plans of action that anticipate the worst possible set of circumstances. It would be irresponsible not to do so.

Many of the models generated in the early days of the outbreak did just this. (See here for details.) And they did so using variables that weren’t very reliable because the data out of China was so untrustworthy. But the media—which is largely scientifically illiterate—tended to report those “worst-case-scenario models as actual predictions.

Second, in order to justify the lockdown and encourage maximum compliance by the general public, it became necessary to scare the living daylights out of people. (While at the same time falsely telling them that masks weren’t helpful, so people wouldn’t hoard them and make it even harder to equip medical personnel.)

Yes, in the opening days of this event, the President was trying to reassure people and calm panic. But that ended once the disaster planners and epidemiological experts started driving, and the media quickly jumped on board. It worked, sort of.

They’ve been so effective at convincing some significant percentage of the population that going to work or school is flirting with death (and for a small percentage of the population, it is), that many people have now logically concluded that it will not be safe to go into public places until the virus is, somehow, completely eradicated.

There is a third reason so many have quickly begun to think that way.

We have a huge number of citizens who now view the government as their de facto “messiah.” 

They look to their national government to supply everything a savior would provide—provision, protection, assurance, and healing. 

In biblical terms, the Messiah is the one who rolls back all the negative effects of “the curse” that resulted from the fall of mankind. In the deepest part of every person, there is an awareness that we need that messiah. This awareness lies at the root of all false religion and religious activity. 

Today, many have been taught and trained to view the central government in messianic terms. They have religious-style faith that government can and should act to roll back every aspect of the fall and usher us back into the Garden of Eden—just as the ancient prophet Joni Mitchell foretold, and psalmists Crosby, Stills & Nash decreed. 

Still trying to get themselves back to the Garden.

If you reject the biblical narrative of the fall and the curse, then you will view both humanity and creation as essentially good and perfectable. And you will quite logically believe it necessary to invest enightened governing elites with enormous power and control. Liberty and personal freedoms must be curtailed in the utopian quest for collective Eden.

This is why control of the White House, Congress, and the courts is an all-consuming obsession with them. And why they pretty much lose their ever-loving minds if their side isn’t in total political control. 

Now apply this mindset to the current crisis. You end up with: The government must exercise restrictive control over all things in life and business in order to reduce the risk to all people to something close to zero.

Here’s the thing: That’s impossible. And the costs of attempting this fool’s errand are devastatingly high. 

In the U.S. alone, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims in the last few weeks. (UPDATE 4/23: Claims are now up to 26 million, or 16% of the U.S. workforce). But they’re actually the fortunate ones. Millions and millions of self-employed people and entrepreneurs whose businesses have been shut down can’t file for those benefits.

Yes, it can seem cold-hearted to point it out, but living life on fallen planet earth is a risky enterprise. And there is only one true Messiah who can effectively mitigate those risks. 

They’re out there: Drunk drivers; lightning strikes; meteors; banana peels on floors; crazy people with knives and guns; and forces of nature. And trillions and trillions of germs. Hostile bacteria and viruses—airborne, water-borne, food-borne, tick-borne, and mosquito-borne. 

Anyone who thinks that government can make living life on planet earth a risk-free proposition is delusional.

So again, the quarantine was never about—and could never be about—eliminating the risk for individuals. That’s not the planet we’re on. It could only be about preparing the capacity of our health care system to treat and restore as many sickened people as possible. 

And yet the utopians are already trying to shame and shout down anyone who makes this case.

By the way, I have several “at risk” people in my life who I love desperately. One lives under my roof. I’ll do my best to protect them. But we cannot impoverish millions to simply maintain an illusion of safety for them. Nor do my loved ones want us to.

This is not to say that our leaders don’t have some brutally difficult choices to make over the weeks and months ahead. It will require the wisdom of Solomon at the peak of his powers to strike the right balance between minimizing health impacts and minimizing economic impacts.

And those decisions will have to be made in the middle of a toxic, hyper-politicized, election-year environment. Lord Jesus help us.

In Part II of this post, I’ll address the numerous, spectacular conspiracy theories and rumors this event has generated. 

Here’s Your Roadmap for Navigating the Current Crisis

Here’s an icebreaker question for you. If you could only have one chapter of the Bible to read and study for the rest of your life, which chapter would you choose, and why?

For me, it’s the eighth chapter of Romans. No doubt. Virtually everything you need to know about the good news of the New Covenant and living the Christian life is there. In 39 verses, Paul manages to pack an entire life’s worth of spiritual truth and practical instruction.

And I’ve never seen a more beautiful rendering of those verses than the recently released version called The Passion Translation.

I mention all this because Romans 8 provides believers a perfect roadmap for getting through this current global disruption in peace and victory. You can read it for yourself here. But allow me to summarize the waypoints on this journey:

1. Verses 1-4: The chapter opens with the familiar, treasured declaration that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Passion Translation renders it this way:

So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”

v. 1-2

These opening verses remind you that you have been gifted the very righteousness of Jesus Christ, and therefore fully qualify for everything He died to provide.

In the midst of this disruption and negative news storm, it’s vital to be mindful that every promise in God’s Word belongs to you because your qualification is not in yourself, but in Jesus.

2. Verses 5-9: Paul moves next to an exhortation about focus. He points out the temptation to be mindful primarily of earthy, natural things (the flesh) rather than spiritual things. This is always a hazard because natural things are readily perceived by our five senses, whereas spiritual things are invisible, yet very real. Paul warns:

For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set controlled by the Spirit finds life and peace.  In fact, the mind-set focused on the flesh fights God’s plan and refuses to submit to his direction,[f] because it cannot!


3. Verses 14-17: Paul then turns your identity in Jesus. Namely, that you are an adopted son or daughter of the Most High God. The implications of that adoption are . . .

And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!” For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!”


Just as the opening verse of the chapter suggests. This means “you quailify” for every good and perfect gift God has made available in His son:

And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself.


Paul then reminds of why things around us often seem so messed up. And why virus plagues, droughts, and earthquakes still stalk the earth from time to time. The world is broken. Sin broke it. But the cure is already in the earth. That cure is us:

 For against its will the universe itself has had to endure the empty futility resulting from the consequences of human sin. But now, with eager expectation, all creation longs for freedom from its slavery to decay and to experience with us the wonderful freedom coming to God’s children.


The NASB puts it this way: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”

For here, Paul pivots to pointing out, now that the Spirit of God is living within us, we too are inwardly longing and groaning for a fuller restoration of broken Creation and the broken order of things. He says that we don’t know how to pray to help bring this about. But that same Spirit that creates that longing within us, DOES know how to pray for these things.

We learn that Spirit is ready, willing, and available to pray through us, if only we’ll yield ourselves to Him in this way:

And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.


Everything that has come before leads Paul to a point where he can reveal one of the most important and glorious truths in all of the New (and better) Covenant. He proclaims that “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him because they have responded to His wooing call. Or as The Passion renders it:

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.


Most Christians (and non-Christians) have a skewed, cartoonish understanding of God’s sovereignty. I have written about this at length on this blog (see here) so I want re-cover that ground now.

I will simply say that Romans 8:28 does NOT say, “For we know that God causes all things.” There is no period after “things.”

The sheer wonder and majesty of all of this—particularly God’s genius in working it all out in advance—sweeps Paul into a song of worship and praise concering the powerful, infinite love of God.

This is a love strong and relentless enough to carry the objects of that love through the any man-made or natural crisis:

So, what does all this mean? If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who then could ever stand against us? 32 For God has proved his love by giving us his greatest treasure, the gift of his Son. And since God freely offered him up as the sacrifice for us all, he certainly won’t withhold from us anything else he has to give.


v.33: Because God loves us, no one can condemn or judge us.

v. 34: The only one with a right to condemn us—Jesus—is our powerful heavenly advocate!

v. 35-38 There is no power in the created universe strong enough to break God’s loving, good-doing hold on you. Nothing in heaven or hell can separate you, even for a moment, from God’s kindness and care.

Here is everything you need to sail through the turbulent waters in which we now find ourselves.

  • You are righteous and blameless
  • Just keep your focus on spiritual realities rather than natural realities.
  • Live in awareness that you are God’s beloved Child.
  • Allow the Spirit of God to lead your praying, and allow Him to pray through you.
  • Rest in the confidence that, although God isn’t causing the current suffering and disruption, He IS brilliantly causing all things to work for your good, and for the good of all His people, plans, and purposes in the earth.
  • Soak in an awareness of God’s love for you. Be mindul of it. Speak of it. Give thanks for it.
{Note: I recently wrote a decree or proclamation rooted in the scriptures we've just examined, and posted it over at the Cup & Table Co. blog.  It's written as a corporate declaration, but can easily personlize it. You'll find it here. 

“I was Dead, and behold . . .”

Here’s an unlikely Easter Sunday message for you.

How many Easter sermons have you heard where a passage from the book of Revelation was the text? Most likely, the answer is “zero.” Yet, that is precisely where I plan to direct your attention this Resurrection morning.

John knew Jesus of Nazereth better than any living person (with the possible exception of His mother). He was part of the Savior’s inner circle of three. And among those three, he held a special place. Throughout his gospel, he cryptically refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.”

At the time of writing down the vision that contitutes the book of Revelation, John was most likely the only one of the 12 original disciples still living.

While exiled on the island of Patmos in the Mediterranean Sea, John receives a heavenly visitation—not by an angel—but by Jesus Himself.

Now John had obviously been with Jesus constantly throughout His three year ministry. And he had even seen Jesus on numerous occasions following the resurrection. This risen Jesus could walk through walls yet could also share a meal with him.

The last time John had seen Jesus was on a hillside just outside Jerusalem. After receiving some final instruction, he’d watched his friend ascend into the clouds.

Through other scriptures, we now know what happened immediately after that ascension. Jesus was crowned King of Kings and took His rightful seat of rulership—the throne at the Father’s right hand.

So, yes, John had seen Jesus in many settings and times, but until this day, he had never seen Jesus the crowned, ruling King. It was, to say the least, a startling sight:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet . . . Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

Revelation 1:10-16 (NASB)

Now much of the way King Jesus appears in John’s vision carries symbolic significance. I don’t believe that Jesus always has shining feet or a doubled-edged sword coming out of His mouth. Each of the things mentioned in John’s description carried prophetic significance about Jesus’ present, ongoing, and expanding rule as crowned King.

Nevertheless, there is a clear message here. As wonderful as Jesus was during His earthly ministry, and even after He received His glorified body at His resurrection . . . There is still no comparison to the might, glory, and majesty that Jesus now embodies as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

John is so overwhelmed at a mere glimpse of this King, that he collapses in a heap like a dead man. Suddenly the quaking John feels the warmth of a hand on his shoulder. He knows that hand.

Then he hears the voice of his old friend:

“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last,  and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

Revelation 1:17,18 (NASB)

In a single, compound sentence, Jesus manages to pack a lifetime’s worth of comfort and reassurance.

  1. “Do not be afraid.” There is no place for fear in the presence of such love and power.
  2. “I am the First and the Last.” In the Greek, “the Alpha and Omega,” the A-to-Z. He is the author and the finisher. All of creation began with Him and now is being remade through Him.
  3. I am “the Living One.” King Jesus is not only alive, He is Life itself. He is the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden. Connection to Him imparts blessed immortality.
  4. “I was dead.” He had to die. He had to taste death in order to defeat it. He had to die our death, so we could partake of His life.
  5. “And behold, I am alive forevermore.” And yet here he stands before us, gloriously alive, and will be so forever. And because He will live forever, those of us who have partaken of His life will live eternally as well. It was John who had recorded His words on another day, “. . . that whosover should believe on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
  6. “. . . and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” The one who holds the keys can release the prisoners.

He is “the Living One.” He is mightier than we can imagine. He is our King. And today you can feel that reassuring hand on your shoulder, too. Because He is your friend.

A Gentle Word of Caution: Guard Your Hearts, Tend Your Souls

Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
for from there flows the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23b (The Passion Translation)

I’m concerned about something that may be coming at us over the next few weeks.

Yesterday, a stranger I follow on Twitter solely for fantasy football insights reteweeted the following:

Social media is a funny thing. I don’t know Dave Richard. And I don’t know if he actually knows Tommy Tran. Perhaps he does. Or he could just be one of Dave’s 127,000 Twitter followers. Neverthelss, there it was in my feed. News about the death-by-virus of a woman I never knew, accompanied by pictures of her with the loved-ones who are now grieving her premature death.

I’ve seen quite a few of these over the last few days. I’m moved by every one of them. I’m prompted to pray for those left behind. As a naturally empathetic person, each sends my mind and emotions off in grim directions. This one appeared as I was writing the last paragraph:

As I said, these are only a trickle now. But barring some a miraculous turnaround—and I’m certainly contending for that miracle—that trickle is about to surge into a flood.

We’re in the early stages of the first global crisis of the social media age. It’s easy to forget how recent a phenomenon social media actually is. It did not exist on September 11, 2001. And it was in its infancy during the onset of the Great Recession of ’08-’09.

Add to the above facts, the reality that most of us are quarantined and spending more time on social media than ever before. This means there’s a freight train headed our way I am compelled to warn you about it. Let me explain.

Over the last few years, huge sections of our soceity have become habituated to publically posting every aspect of their lives, experiences, and feelings. Indeed, it seems that for many, a thing didn’t really happen unless it’s been shared on Instagram.

At the same time, over the last 10 to 12 years, we’ve cultivated a culture of people who feel more significant if they are the victim of, or at mininum, have proximity to, a victim of a tragedy. And the higher profile the tragedy, the more significant they feel if they are touched by it.

This means that nearly every person falling sick over the next few weeks is going to post about it publically on social media. (This is very different than privately emailing family and friends to request prayer and agreement.) Then most of the followers of that person will share that announcment to their networks. And many of those will pass it along to their networks.

And every person who knows that sick person is going to post about it, too. They call it “viral” for a reason.

The same is even more true for deaths. Every death by Covid-19 is going to be endlessly shared through trees of interlocking networks.

It’s understandable that people want to honor their deceased family and friends by announcing their passing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This is natural. But the viral sharing of those tragic deaths is a certainty. It will travel far, far beyond their small circle of acquaintances.

This all adds up to this reality: If we remain glued to social media when, as some experts are predicting, the daily death count soars to 1,000, 2,000, or more per day, (as it very well might when we reach the peak of our [hopefully] flattened curve,) we will rapidly become swept away in a tsunami of terrible, terrible news.

The danger here is succumbing to the false perception that “everyone” is getting sick. And that everyone getting sick is dying.

It will easily feel that way, but it will not be true. Social media is not real life.

Again, I’m with all those who are contending for an Easter miracle. But if we don’t get it, we at the Cup & Table Co. will embrace the miracle of Passover instead. “It shall not come near us.” And we’ll continue to intercede for our neighborhoods, our city, our state, ouir nation, and the world.

Nevertheless, I need you to know that if that Easter miracle does not manifest, a tsunami of bad news and sadness on social media is almost certainly coming. And I do not want you to be swept away by it.

We’re going to be fine. The Church is going to be fine.

In my business, we’re always talking about the need to raise awareness. But the truth is, there is only so much awareness the human heart can bear.

Perhaps only God is emotionally equipped to know about all the suffering in this world. You and I are not God. In the weeks ahead, be wise. Guard your heart diligently. Tend the garden of your soul.