Conspiracy theory: a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators. -Merriam-Webster
Lately we have been witnessing a vast number of conspiracy theories on social media and on the news. I have not run a formal poll, but it seems like right now there are more conspiracy theories floating around than normal. I have little doubt that this is due to the fact that Covid-19 has changed the way we live everyday life.
Within the time-frame of one week, I received two messages from friends talking about what is going on right now in our world and thinking that it might be leading to the mark of the beast and the end times.
A couple of years ago I preached through the entire book of Revelation. I had people like David Jeremiah calling me and asking me my opinion regarding the end times and biblical prophecy. (Before you share that information with someone you might want to fact check it.) I believe that the book of Revelation does speak of things happening now and that will also take place in the future. So let’s be clear, I believe in the Anti-Christ, a time of Great Tribulation, the mark of the beast and the Second Coming Of Jesus.
I believe in these things with all of my heart, but we must be wise how we interpret the “signs” we see in our world today.
So, here are a few of my thoughts as we seek to live wisely in our day and time…
Research big time before you post it
If you hear about a theory that has to do with Bill Gates, the mark of the beast, or Covid-19, then research it thoroughly before you post it online. I believe that all too often people are doing little to no investigation on their own (“hey everyone, this looks interesting”) before they share something with the general public. Do some research. HERE is a link that gives some guidelines when it comes to being able to know if your source is reliable or not. Yes, it is work, but isn’t that better than passing along false information? If your theory is related to the end times, spend time on your own searching the Scriptures.
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. -Acts 17:11
If you have done the hard work/research and have prayed about it, feel free to share it
We live in a country where we cherish our freedom of speech. If you have done the hard work of looking into it, and you have come to the point where you believe it is necessary to share it, then go for it. My point is NOT that we can’t talk about our beliefs regarding the end times and the mark of the beast. My point is that we must be wise regarding how we do it.
Don’t make the tragic mistake of substituting your online post for the Great Commission
This is really my main concern in all of this! I am worried that Christians are posting things online (taking a stand) and then feeling like they have done what God has called them to do. Jesus lived in a time when world leaders were thoroughly evil and working with all their power against the kingdom of God (Matthew 2:16-18).
So in light of this we might wonder, how did Jesus spend his time? What did Jesus focus on? We want to take our cues from Jesus, right? We know the answer. Jesus built relationships and made disciples who made disciples. The Great Commission of Matthew 28 is the main calling of the church and the Christian.
The online post is easy. It’s safe. It’s within our comfort zone. We can do it in our pajamas while sitting on our couch. We don’t have to listen, show empathy, or really engage with people on a deep level. As someone else has said, making disciples is God’s Plan A for changing the world, and there is no Plan B.
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” -Matthew 4:19
Feel free to speak up, but let’s remember that we most closely walk in the ways of Jesus when we commit to making disciples.
Our mission as a church is to make disciples who make disciples. Our vision is the way in which we go about living out our mission. With that said, our vision as a church is “Deeply Rooted in Six Counties.” We want to be a church that is growing deeper in our relationship with God, with people in the church, and those in the six counties all around us. We asked Pastor and author, Jeff Vanderstelt, to do some teaching about how we can grow more deeply in the glorious truths of the gospel. Jeff is the Teaching Pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, Washington. He is asked on a regular basis to write and speak about the gospel and how it applies to everyday life. Recently, Jeff wrote the excellent book, Gospel Fluency. Below is the video of the teaching that Jeff did for us.
HERE are some discussion questions that you or your Life Group could use to deepen your understanding and appreciation of the gospel.
HERE is an interview I did with Jayne, Jeff’s wife, many years ago.
Our vision as a church is “Deeply Rooted in Six Counties.” We want to be a church that is growing deeper in our relationship with God, with people in the church, and those in the six counties all around us. With that said, we have asked Pastor and author, Jeff Vanderstelt, to do some teaching about how we can grow more deeply in the glorious truths of the gospel. Jeff is the Teaching Pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, Washington. He is asked on a regular basis to write and speak about the gospel and how it applies to everyday life. Recently, Jeff wrote the excellent book, Gospel Fluency. On Sunday, May 17th, 6:00 PM, from the safety and comfort of your own home, you can join us for this unique opportunity.
The teaching can be found at: http://www.newlifeefree.org
I just participated in an online meeting where JD Greear and Andy Crouch were talking about “Ministry During and After a Crisis.” The meeting led me to this thought, it would be a catastrophe for Christians to fail to embrace the truth that God is at work during this pandemic. I say that because I am concerned that we are tempted to coast through this pandemic by binging on TV, wine, and food. More than coasting or even worse, numbing or escaping from the realities of life, certainly God desires to transform his people and prepare them for a new season of ministry.
As we think about the book of Acts (and church history in general) we find that God uses persecution to light a fire in his church and for the spread of the gospel. Is it possible that God wants to use Covid-19 to do a new work in our lives, churches, country, and world? I will be bold enough to say that the answer is yes! With that said, I would like to give us 8 things that we should be doing now and that that will empower us to come out of this pandemic ready to make a positive difference in this world.
- Spend time in God’s Word. Here at New Life Church I am excited to say that we are going to begin a church-wide campaign that encourages people to be reading and studying God’s Word. We can’t expect to grow spiritually, or to be ready to see how God wants to be at work in us, if we are not digging into God’s Word. Are you immersing your heart and mind in the Word?
- Spend time in prayer. Are you using this time to ask God light a fire in your life? Are you asking God to use this time to create a spiritual hunger in the lives of people in your everyday life? This Sunday, May 3rd, we are working with a number of other local churches to have a community time of prayer online. Pray, pray and pray some more. We simply can not expect to see the Spirit work if we are not faithful in prayer.
- Ask and answer the question, what work does God want to do in your life? Are there some strongholds or idols in your life that God wants to surgically remove? Are there any life long habits that have caused you more pain than anything else? Addictions, anger, bitterness, apathy, legalism, materialism, lust? God has given you this unique time in order to shape you into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.
- Don’t give into fear and anger. During this pandemic we have acted as if people are the enemy. I don’t know if this behavior is really new, perhaps it is just heightened during the past few weeks. We have been acting like the enemy is people who disagree with our opinions regarding Covid-19. The bible can not be more clear that people ARE THE MISSION, not the enemy! Even now during the pandemic, let’s use words that heal. Consider the possibility that your “well-researched” conspiracy theory is really just nonsense. Speak and live in such a way that draws people closer to Jesus. Don’t burn relational bridges during this pandemic.
- Be praying specifically for “Who’s Your One?” Here at New Life Church we have asked people to identify one person in their everyday life that needs to know Jesus personally. So let me ask you, who’s your one? Keep praying. Reach out to them via cell phone or Zoom. We don’t need to go off mission because of the trials we are going through.
- Maybe the best thing you can do is truly unplug, get away from distractions, and find rest in Christ. There have been times when I have thought, why in the world (pastors might be the worst at this) are we trying so hard to keep ourselves busy? Maybe it’s God who is working overtime to get us to slow down so that we will focus more on him. A.W. Tozer writes this, “Unquestionably, part of our failure today is religious activity that is not preceded by aloneness, by inactivity. I mean getting alone with God and waiting in silence and quietness until we are charged with God’s Spirit.”
- Leave behind the idea of a being a lone ranger Christian. This pandemic has revealed to us that we need to be in relationship with other people. Community in the church is the green house for discipleship to flourish. Let’s stop with the idea that it’s “just me and Jesus.” When things get loosened up, when it is OK to gather together again, get involved in a Life Group or whatever your church calls it.
- Be determined to come out of this pandemic and leave behind consumer Christianity. If this pandemic is over and you are still sitting at home on Sunday morning looking for the best worship experience then you need to know that you have moved away from following Jesus and into a lifestyle of consumerism. Make a commitment NOW that when the pandemic is over to be more involved than ever in your local church.
Perhaps this can become a theme song for us…
Covid-19 has made it challenging to gather as a church family. Partly, in response to the isolation we are facing, I decided to do “Ask Pastor Michael.” I am asking people in my church to email me any questions they have about the Word of God. Then on Sunday nights at 6:00 pm I am streaming my answer on Facebook. One of the first questions I received was, why does God allow suffering? Of course I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and questions.
I knew after reading the first couple pages that I was going to like this book. I don’t just like it, I love it. Rachel Jankovic speaks directly, boldly, and challenges many of the unbiblical messages that are being taught these days about what it means to be a woman. Here is how Rachel starts her book:
Perhaps I should open this book with a warning. If you are looking for a book that will gently pet your bangs and soothe your worried brow, telling you how beautiful you are, this is not it. I will not stick only to the feel-good themes and ways to boost your self-confidence, telling you that you (no matter what you are doing at the moment) are enough. I will not give you a big pep talk about how to fight for you, and there is no chapter on morning affirmations. This book is not here to help you in your quest for self-love. I want something much, much better for you, because I want something true for you.
The goal of this book is to encourage and equip believing women to see their identity in Christ as the most essential part of them, and to see all the ways that will work its way out in their lives, manifesting itself as strength, dignity, and clarity of purpose.
Have you found yourself saying or reading things like this?
“I was born that way.”
“God wants me to be happy.”
“Follow your heart.”
Instead of merely getting upset that someone is challenging the way that you think (or talk), be open to the idea that God, through the power of his Word, wants to fill your mind with biblical truth and wisdom.
Moms, this is a great book for you to read, think about, and pray over. But it is also a great book to talk about with your daughters. Our daughters are in a world that desires to fill their minds with false concepts about what it means to be a woman.
HERE is where you can purchase this book (and a study guide), and I strongly recommend you do so.
If you want to get a better sense of the worldly wisdom that Rachel is fighting against spend a few moments watching the videos below.
If I had one chance to explain the urgent message of Easter what would I tell you?