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Two Years Later: Where Are We Now? (Part 1)

I will never forget the third Sunday in March of 2020.

On Saturday, March 14, I attended my first Prophecy Up Close event hosted by The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, in the Milwaukee area. That night, we drove down to Mendota, IL, to prepare for our ministry at Mendota Bible Church.

The fear of coronavirus was spreading quickly, as was the talk of locking down society—a term previously reserved for situations involving either extreme weather or an impending attack. I spoke about Biblical prophecy that day, and told the congregation that this would be a day that none of us would ever forget. And, indeed, it was. I remember reading news stories that afternoon about the emergency rules that would shortly be going into place in Illinois—all the while wondering how they related to our United States Constitution.

We stayed in our hotel that night, planning to meet a pastor for lunch on Monday. We walked over to McDonald’s for a snack to eat while we watched the final presidential primary debate, and there we caught a glimpse of what life would look like under lockdown.

The next day, as we left, our hotel clerk cried. At lunch at our restaurant, our waitress cried. Both of them feared financial ruin. We drove home, relieved to get back to Wisconsin—only to learn that the lockdowns would very quickly be following us north.

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“The sense of dislocation is exacerbated by the indisputable fact that the pace of change is accelerating.”

"Some people feel like we’re accelerating headlong toward a precipice, uncontrolled and uncontrollably. And on the heels of such thoughts inevitably come fear, despair, desperation, rage. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." - Olinger

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Nothing New Under the Sun

Judging from what I’m seeing, hearing and overhearing lately, a lot of conservative Christians are really worked up right now. Details vary, but the general feeling seems to be that recent developments in religious liberty, LGBTQ trends, mask and vaccine “mandates,” and Afghanistan mean all we hold dear in the U.S. is now collapsing.

With the exception of Afghanistan, most of the alarm seems focused on loss of freedom. On Afghanistan, concerns are appropriately more focused now on the casualties from Thursday’s attack in Kabul. A week ago they ran the gamut from the suffering of Christians there, to national embarrassment and the frustration of our military, to betrayal of allies …to the feeling that Joe Biden is an inhumane monster.

For my part, though I have concerns about cultural trends and the Afghanistan mess, I don’t see our times as unprecedented. The word “perilous” fits, but that’s been true for a pretty long time. I don’t feel the sense of doom that many of my fellow Christians and conservatives seem to feel right now.

I’m sure some would say my problem is naïve optimism, arrogance, ignorance, or bias. That may be part of it, son of Adam that I am—but there are also other factors.

The lens of history

The disaster in Afghanistan isn’t World War II’s battle of Okinawa or Vietnam’s Battle of Ong Thanh. Admittedly, it’s hard to find historical examples of American failures bringing greater peril to American and allied civilians.

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On 2 Corinthians 1:8 – “We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength.”

"When we’re overwhelmed––perhaps by many changes, or by one major change with seismic effects––Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:8 will resonate with us: 'We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength.' What an apt description of a full load and a heavy heart: utterly burdened." - TGC

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Post COVID, the Key Attitudes of Leaders Whose Churches Will Thrive

"I have been devouring news and studies of churches and other organizations that are poised to move positively in the future. These organizations are not succumbing to the inevitability of life getting worse and organizational health deteriorating.... they are looking up and looking around to see the new paths and the new possibilities in this new reality." - Thom Rainer

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Like Sinking Sand It Falls

That feeling you sense is the unmovable ground—what you thought was unmovable, anyway—shifting beneath your feet.

It will never return to its previous form. It has been, to use a term now in vogue, “transformed.”

Personally, I have never been in an earthquake—until now. 

But, you see, this is not merely a terrestrial earthquake, but a medical, economic, political, cultural, societal and spiritual earthquake.

Consider everything you thought you could rely upon in this world as recently as late February. Now, pause, and realize that you can no longer rely upon it. And, what’s more, to quote one of our most loquacious governors, there is no going “back to normal.”

Whatever your view of the coronavirus, or of the shutdowns, the purpose of this piece is not to persuade you of a particular point of view or course of action. I am not a medical, economic or political scientist, and none of us are privy to the information one would need to fully evaluate these things. Like you, I have lots of questions—many, many more questions than answers.

My purpose, then, is not to argue about the seriousness of the illness, or the wisdom of the shutdowns, or even the political, economic or societal path forward.

My point here is rather to state that which is self-evident, even if devastating. Things have changed. In a thousand ways, things have changed forever.

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