"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Listen to the Creator When It Comes to Your Life

When Apollo 16 astronauts landed on the moon on Friday, April 21, 1972, they offloaded a lunar roving vehicle. These moon explorers were to traverse the surface of the moon for three days riding the moon mobile.

But the lunar rover ran into problems. After a day of exploring, the rover lost a rear fender and moon dust blanketed the vehicle's instruments. The astronauts were to explore the surface of the moon for 48 additional hours, so they could not afford the lunar rover to be broken down. 

The NASA Command Center in Houston, frantic to get the vehicle going again, was stumped with what to do to repair it. Finally, someone had the bright idea to contact the original engineer/creator of the lunar roving vehicle. 

His name is Ferenc Pavlics.  This Hungarian scientist who worked for NASA in the 1960s and 70s is now 92-years-old and living in California. 

NASA reached Ferenc at his home in Houston and brought him to Command Headquarters. After listening to the problem, the creator/designer of the lunar roving vehicle provided a solution. The astronauts on the moon repaired the vehicle following the instructions of its creator and fulfilled the mission of Apollo 16.

A recent survey from Facts and Trends reveals that less than 1/3 of professing evangelical Christians read the Bible on a daily basis. 

In the United States, where church attendance at mainline denominations is declining and the word "evangelical" is almost a curse in the cancel culture climate, Bible reading is at its lowest in the history of our great nation.

There's no need to wonder why our culture is broken down. 

Nobody is listening to the Creator.

Know the Bible. 

It's your only hope to fulfill the design of your mission on earth.

Save Our Children, Justice, and the Bold Journalist Who Shook the World and Died on the RMS Titanic

W.T. Stead (1849-1912) 
There is a child sex trafficking pandemic taking place in the United States in 2020.

The moral depravity of a culture more focused on preventing Covid-19 than putting an end to covert sexual trafficking of children or preventing the deaths of innocent and powerless children through abortion should turn the stomach of every American.

The words of a London policeman about child sex trafficking, words spoken while being interviewed by the subject of this blogpost in 1882, are just as appropriate today as they were a century and a half ago:

"Although it ought to raise hell, it does not even raise the neighbors."


Pedophilia and blatant disregard for the lives of children infect the backrooms of Congress, the boardrooms of Wall Street, and the back alleys of small-town America.

To grasp the moral courage it takes to shut down child sex trafficking and the evil practice of abortion in our country, one needs to look no further than the most famous man to die during the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

His name was William Thomas Stead (1849-1912). His friends called him W.T. Stead.

In 2012, one hundred years after his death, the first biography of Stead's remarkable life came to the public market. Famous in his day, Stead's name had faded from the collective conscience of British and American societies.

Stead's anonymity is unfortunate. Tristam Hunt, a member of Britain's House of Commons, wrote of W.T. Stead in the foreword of that 2012 biography:
"Imprisoned for abducting a child in the course of exposing the vicious sex trade that existed in Victorian London, Stead realized, as few before him had, that governments are powerless to resist the coordinated voice of the public – when harnessed by a newspaper – to help put an end to such evils."

Substitute the words "social media" for newspaper and the words of Tristam Hunt are an inspiration for every person who uses social media to drive out evil through social activism on behalf of the powerless and voiceless.

W.T. Stead Memorial at Central Park, New York

My cousin and his wife live on 5th Avenue in New York City. Across from their townhouse, set on the east wall that surrounds Central Park, there is a bronze statue of W.T. Stead. Thousands walk by every day and have no idea who this man is. 

To know him is to grasp the courage it takes to change a culture of complacency.

Born the son of a clergyman on July 5, 1849, in Embleton, England,  William Thomas Stead learned to read and write both English and Latin by the age of 5.

Thought by loved ones to eventually follow his father's footsteps in becoming a preacher, Stead instead took an interest in journalism and worked his way up the newspaper management ladder. He became the youngest newspaper editor in England at the age of 22. 

Deeply spiritual and well-versed in the Bible, the day before his 26th birthday, W.T. Stead records in his journal how God called him that year to use his gifts and talents for the good of society:
"The great event of this year has been... (through) reading Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs, a sense of my prophethood returned. I felt once more the sacredness of the power placed in my hands, to be used on behalf of the poor, the outcast and the oppressed. It was a gift of renewed faith. I clearly and decidedly grasped the idea that everything is given to one to be employed on behalf of those that have nothing, and that only by the patient laborious unselfish labor of the good can the bad be extinguished, and that my mission was to labor unceasingly, by all methods and in every season, to help on the social regeneration of the people of the world."

For the rest of his life, W.T. Stead laboriously worked for the good of those who had nothing. He became Britain's first investigative journalist

In 1885, Stead shocked the world with a series of articles he wrote on the seamy practice of child prostitution in London, England. W.T. Stead spent months investigating child trafficking before publishing the articles that stunned newspaper readers of Victorian London. W.T. Stead researcher Owen Mulpetre observes about Stead's articles:

"(He wrote) in graphic detail about the entrapment, abduction and 'sale' of young under-privileged girls to London brothels. Written in successive installments, Stead's "infernal narrative", as he called it, revealed to a respectable readership a criminal underworld of stinking brothels, fiendish procuresses, drugs and padded chambers, where upper-class pedophiles could revel 'in the cries of an immature child.'"

London prosecutors had Stead arrested for breaking "decency laws" (his articles) and for "kidnapping" a child (his research and activism) that Stead had rescued from a child sex trafficking house. In jail for three months awaiting trial, the jury acquitted Stead of any criminal behavior in the infamous Eliza Armstrong case.

The fame of W.T. Stead spread after his acquittal. It wasn't long until Americans knew Stead's name too.  

In 1894, Stead traveled to Chicago to attend the World’s Fair. He was horrified by the conditions that he observed in the streets around the glamour of the 1892 Columbian Exposition, called by the people, the World's Fair. He decided to thoroughly investigate for himself the streets of Chicago. 

Stead's Vice Map of Ward 1, Chicago (1894)

W.T. Stead went block by block in Ward 1 of Chicago (see map), noting and mapping the brawling bars, the brothels, and the barbaric human behaviors behind the World's Fair. 

His findings, published in If Christ Came to Chicago!: A Plea for the Union of All Who Love in the Service of All Who Suffer (1894), is recognized by the prestigious Britannica Encyclopedia as a model of journalistic research.

Every article Stead wrote had the goal of reforming a society held hostage by "the powers of darkness in high places." 

It sounds like 2020.

One of the prized possessions I have framed in my writing office at home is a handwritten postcard to W.T. Stead from Charles Spurgeon, the famous London preacher and contemporary of Stead. Spurgeon congratulates W.T. Stead for his written portraits or character sketches in a magazine, profiling men and women of courage and character who were making a difference in the world during the 1880s and 1890s. Stead called the magazine he founded, and the one to which Spurgeon subscribed,  The Review of Reviews.

For 40 years, W.T. Stead laboriously worked through his writings to bring justice, to practice mercy, and to live humbly in the corridors of power. 

W.T. Stead made a difference for good in the world of child sex-trafficking in his day. We need more men and women of courage, people like W.T. Stead, in 2020.

Biographer Sydney Robinson recounts how William Thomas Stead spent the last hours of his life: 
Shortly before midnight on Sunday 14 April 1912, a stout, prematurely aged gentleman with crystal-blue eyes and a shaggy grey beard appeared on the foredeck of the Titanic. ‘What do they say is the trouble?’ he innocently enquired. No one seemed to know. ‘Well, I guess it’s nothing serious; I’m going back to my cabin to read’. These were the last recorded words of William Thomas Stead, the famous investigative journalist who, thirty years previously, had shocked the world by purchasing a thirteen-year-old girl on the streets of Victorian London. Two hours later he would be plunged into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, never to be seen again.
It was a bizarre end for a man who had made his name smiting ‘the powers of darkness in high places’ on behalf of the ‘disinherited and outcast of the world’. The magnificent ship, legendary in its vast scale, luxury and exclusivity, represented everything he had campaigned against during his long career... It was somehow apt that W. T. Stead had last been seen turning the pages of a penny Bible in the first-class reading room of the world’s most expensive cruise liner. (Sydney W. Robinson, Muckraker, Kindle Edition)

 
William Thomas Stead is an inspiration for any who wish to drive out evil by laboriously doing good. Jesus made it clear that when we care for the fatherless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, speak for the voiceless, and stand for the powerless, we are actually serving Him (see Matthew 25:40).

"This life will soon be past and only what's done for Christ will last." 

#SaveOurChildren

My Covid-19 Story Intended As An Encouragement

I'm sitting here listening to the local news. It's all about Covid-19. Oklahoma University has 9 football players who have tested positive for Covid-19. One school district in OKC has had 19 kids and teachers test positive. The newscasters sound like their announcing the end of the world.  I would tell you about what I've heard on the national news, but I stopped it weeks ago. 

So after hearing all the negativity on local news, I decided to tell you of my positive experiences (plural) with Covid-19. 

First, let me say if you have loved ones who've been very sick with Covid-19 (and there are some), or if you are one of those rare individuals who has had a loved one die with Covid-19, you do not want to hear any "good news" about Covid-19 right now.  You've already experienced hell on earth. I understand your feelings. I really do. Were I in your shoes, I'd feel the same as you. Therefore, if you've suffered deeply, let me encourage you to either stop reading this post, or at a minimum, remind yourself that life is different for each person. In God's providence, your experience with Covid-19 is one that none of us would wish on anyone else. 

But my story is different. I tell it to encourage you. In the overwhelming number of cases, Covid-19 is nothing to fear.  I've had Covid-19 at least once, possibly twice. 

Back in April 2020 I gave blood.  The Oklahoma Blood Institute tested my blood and said I had antibodies for Covid-19. Since then, the OBI has asked me to give blood to those in the hospital with a Covid-19 diagnosis. The COVID-19 antibody test I received had been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to indicate if the blood donor’s immune system had produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether the donor (me) had developed symptoms. Donors who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may have the unique opportunity to help patients fighting the disease.

Then, in late July I tested positive for Covid19. I had no fever. I had no nausea. I had what I thought were allergies, but otherwise,  I felt fine. The rapid test I took showed that I had Covid-19. I asked the clinician, "How can I get Covid-19 when I have antibodies?"

She responded, "Do you get the flu shot?" I said that I did. She asked, "Do you ever get the flu during the flu season even after getting the flu vaccine." I told her, "Yes. It's happened before." She said that it is the same with Covid-19. Antibodies are no guarantee that a person won't get Covid-19, just like a flu vaccine (or impending Covid-19 vaccine) will be no guarantee that a person will not get the flu (or Covid-19).

Of course, I kept my distance from people after my positive result. My wife, and three of my family members got Covid-19 as well. All five of us had no fever, and only symptoms similar to having allergies with mild fatigue. We isolated among ourselves, and after 12 days, went back to our lives as normal. 

I know at least 30 people in Enid who have been diagnosed with having Covid-19. I have a very close friend who is 90 and is doing great a month after his diagnosis. Most of those I know who received a positive diagnosis of Covid-19 are over 65. They are all recovering except for one, a 95-year-old long-time friend with Alzheimer's who died after being tested positive. 

My friend John Dwyer, writes movingly about his experience with Covid-19. John has battled heart disease and cancer, but he is doing quite well after his Covid-19 diagnosis.  I do have a couple of distant cousins who are in the hospital (on a vent), and their experiences with Covid-19 are traumatic, so I understand that John's story is different than others. 

We cannot shut down schools, churches, businesses, and cities because of Covid-19. The vast majority of people getting Covid-19 will be fine. People will die from Covid-19. But people die of the flu every year. People die from traffic accidents. People die from heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. People die from suicide. More people will die shutting down the world to try to prevent people dying from Covid-19. The cure cannot be worse than the disease.

I offer five encouraging statements from my personal experience with Covid-19. 

1. Getting Covid-19 is not a death sentence.

Sure, you may get sick, but according to the World Data,  it is estimated that over 99% of those infected with Covid-19 (a different metric than known cases of Covid-19) will survive. Many people, like me and my family, will exhibit little or no symptoms of the illness.

2. We might delay spreading Covid-19, but we can't prevent it. 

No matter the precautions taken, Covid-19 is going to spread. No matter the precautions you take, you still might catch Covid-19. The question will be "sooner or later"? Covid-19 is going to be around for a long time. 

3. Developing your natural immunity through healthy living, good eating, and daily exercising is best. 

The big pharmacy companies would like you to believe that you need their medicine, or their vaccine, or their new drug, but God's given you a great ability to develop immunity yourself. 

4. Keeping people from seeing their loved ones who are sick, elderly, or vulnerable is a death sentence in itself. 

As National Public Radio reports, hospitals and nursing homes forced to keep loved ones away from  vulnerable or dying loved ones seems counter-productive. Restricting families from being near their sick and vulnerable loved ones out of fear of them catching Covid-19 is actually a death sentence in itself. Once you stop living, you've already died. 

5. Death is coming to all who live, but immortal life is a gift from God to some. 

Everyone is going to die. The Creator holds "the keys of life and death" (Revelation 1:18) and He alone determines the day, hour, and moment of your death (Psalm 139:16).  "But the gift of God is life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  It's far better to trust Christ than to fear Covid-19. Loving Christ and following His instruction is evidence that God, by His grace and for His glory, has given you the gift of eternal life. 

But the wicked perish

Americans need to grasp that this life will soon be past, and only that life lived for Christ will last. 

3 Things to Focus On If Attacked on Social Media

 This short 4-minute video will be a help to you (or others) if you ever experience someone attacking you on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). The world has changed in the last 20 years, and applying grace in tough situations is an important part of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ in a world filled with hate. Don't take it personally.

Mourning Sin and the Man in Linen Marking You


9:11. 

That's the number you dial when you sense trouble.

We all find ourselves in trouble at one time or another. Our actions bring pain and sorrow upon ourselves and others.

We are selfish. We lie to enhance our standing with others. We steal what is not ours. We minimize God and His Word in our lives. We're envious, jealous, and haughty. We live the way we desire and refuse to acknowledge our allegiance to God.

We get angry when we don't get our way. 

In short, we are sinners

However, the Good News is that God loves sinners and sent His Son to deliver us from our sins.
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst." (I Timothy 1:15)
So it would be prudent for all of us to ponder this important question. 
Does God accept every sinner regardless?
The Bible reveals that Jesus accepts and blesses only those sinners who dial up 9:11.

Ezekiel 9:11 is the Bible's 9:11.
"And, behold, the Man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, "I have done as You have commanded me." (Ezekiel 9:11). 
I'll explain why this Bible verse is so important for the deliverance of your soul from God's judgment.

Ezekiel 9 records a vision that God gave to the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel had been captured by the King of Babylon and is now living in exile as a prisoner. The year is 591 B.C. and the Temple in Jerusalem is still standing.

But not for long.

Five years later (586 B.C.) God would use the wicked Babylonian army (e.g., "the Chaldeans") to destroy His Temple and the city of Jerusalem because of the wickedness and sins of the people.

The Glory (God's Presence) was departing Jerusalem (see Ezekiel 8).

In Ezekiel's vision, he sees seven men enter the city, "and one Man was in linen with an inkhorn around His waist" (Ezekiel 9:2). An inkhorn was a container full of ink, sometimes the horn of an animal. A feather with a pointed stem would be the natural pen.

The Man in linen was sent by God to "mark with ink" the people in Jerusalem who were "grieving, weeping and in deep sorrow" over the detestable things they'd done (Ezekiel 9:4). The other six men were executioners who were to "destroy by death" those without the mark (Ezekiel 9:5).

God told the six men:
"Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark."
The Seventh Man, the Man in linen with the inkhorn around His waist, is an Old Testament type of Jesus Christ. The Man in linen had a specific mission.
"Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it." (Ezekiel 9:4
The people of Jerusalem had done some abominable things. All of them. But there are some who are "grieving, weeping and in deep sorrow" over the detestable things they'd done (Ezekiel 9:4).

Ezekiel 9:11 tells us the Man in linen did as He was commanded, and all those marked with ink were saved from destruction.

God delivers only those sinners who grieve over their sin.

The "mark" that the Man in linen puts on the foreheads of those in mourning translates the Hebrew word TAV (also spelled "taw" or "tau" when transliterated into English). In addition to meaning a "mark," this is the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The TAV is an equal-armed cross + (as in the upper right corner of the diagram to the right). The Man in linen with the "cup of ink" or "inkhorn" (KJV) marked people with a sign in the shape of a cross.

The Man in linen died for those who mourn over their sin.

The only people delivered from destruction via "the mark of the cross" are those who mourn over sin.
"Blessed are they who mourn," Jesus said, "for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).
To be a Christian doesn't mean you've never done anything wrong.

No.

To be a Christian - to be one who is saved from the coming destruction - means you've been marked by the Man in linen with the cross because you mourn over your sin.

America Is Paying Attention to Enid, Oklahoma

Enid, Oklahoma, remains the only city in America whose local government (the mayor and city council) has voted down a mandatory mask mandate for her citizens. Some cities have refused to consider the question, but Enid is the only American city to vote mandatory measures down.

This Tuesday, August 4, 2020, an Enid city council member named Ben Ezzell is once again bringing up a proposed ordinance to demand citizens cover their faces in public and to impose civil penalties for violations of his mask mandate.

The police chief of Enid has publicly said that if the ordinance passes, his officers will not be enforcing it. I've made it known that we will never shut down worship services under order of the government. If we shut down, it will be our choice because we are persuaded it is the best course of action for our city. 

I pastor a church of 3,000 members in Enid. We have three Sunday morning worship services, a private Christian school, and dozens upon dozens of different local ministries. We have enhanced our online ministries, moved all our worship services into the main auditorium for more spacing, and urged people to take personal responsibility for their health while giving freedom to others to do what they deem best, and that means "don't come" if you're fearful of catching Covid-19. That said, in a day when death is nearer than you may know, it would seem listening to an expert on the state of your soul is something you should be doing. 

Amazing how the liberals cry "listen to the experts" when it comes to the body, but "ignore the experts" when it comes to the soul. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 10:28 who we should be listening to:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
Masks have never been mandatory at Emmanuel Enid. We will respect those who choose to wear a mask and we will respect those who choose not to wear a mask. If you think that "all the medical experts agree that mandatory masks are necessary," it will take you five seconds to do a Google search and come across reams of material that suggest mandatory masking may actually harm people. The medical community and professional epidemiologists are divided on the issue of mandatory masks. 

For example, the country of Sweden has obtained herd immunity through no lockdown and no mandatory masking. While countries all around Sweden are having a second wave of Covid-19 cases, Sweden's leading epidemiologist is trumpeting lockdown free Sweden's positive corona virus declines and the pointlessness of mandatory masks.

Enid's number of corona cases has risen, and it will continue to rise. I know at least three dozen people who have had Covid-19. Only two have been seriously ill, and even those two have now recovered. Death rates remain low, but that doesn't mean Covid-19 should be taken lightly. Some people will get very sick, and some people will die.

I believe Americans are smart enough to figure out for themselves what needs to be done. The government should persuade us and then trust us. I trust the American people and the good citizens of Enid to do what is best. I trust the local businessman. I trust the local pastor. I trust the local school administrators. I trust the local family units.

Let the people be free to do as they see.

Ben Ezzell sent me an email asking me to support his mandatory mask mandate. I responded:
"I am solidly, 100% against a government mandate for masks. I believe private citizens, private businesses, and private entities have enough intelligence to determine what is best for their unique situation. I have no problem wearing a mask around the vulnerable. We encourage social distancing. But I do not believe the government should mandate a law and enforce civil penalties."
Ben Ezell is a city leader who is motivated by public health concerns, as am I. He responded with an email that contained the following sentence:
"I wish that you were correct, that private citizens and businesses and entities were intelligent enough."
There's the issue in one sentence. 

We have a city leader who does not believe that the citizens of Enid are intelligent enough to do what is best. It's not enough to persuade us and then trust us. The average citizen isn't intelligent enough to see the light, so he or she must be forced to see the light and do what is right.

The liberal elitists follow Plato’s model, believing that they know better than anyone else. Plato’s ideal separated the elite, the guardians of society, from the dross below them. This concept of intellectual elitism is infused in the hearts and minds of the liberal left.

Anyone who disagrees is so undermining to the liberal left’s agenda as to be intolerable. Or, in the common left vernacular, he who disagrees is “deplorable.” Leftists are tolerant of only those in agreement with their positions. Their opponents deserve to be persecuted and ostracized. Failure to conform to the liberal left’s ideology is subversive and must be defeated at all costs.

America is watching Enid.

America is watching, Enid. 

Pay attention, citizen of Enid, to that comma in the sentence above. 

America is watching you.