Hard Times

By: G.J. Fortier

Take a look around you. What do you see?

“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)

It’s undeniable. Almost everywhere you look around the world, it’s easy to spot all of the above.

What about this?

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars … Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” Matthew 24:6-7

And this?

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,” Matthew 24:9-13

And what about this?

“Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

And this?

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name …” Matthew 24:4 (NIV)

And this?

“… but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved …” Matthew 24:13 (NIV)

Sure, there are numerous things that, if we choose to dwell upon them, can take the wind straight out of our sails … if we let them. There are many who might look at what’s happening in the world today as signs of “the end times”, whatever that is. But I say that things like what’s happening around us, or something very similar, have happened throughout history, over and over again. I ask you, within the past 1¼ century, how many wars have been fought around the Earth?

Well, let’s see …


I Am A Slacker!

By: G.J. Fortier

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)

 

Okay, it’s been a year (just over 13 months … and 7 days … but who’s counting) and, admit it, you’ve gotten slack too. No in person Bible studies; no Wednesday evening service; no in person Sunday service so we’re “forced” to watch it on Facebook; Sunday School via zoom, where you sit on your couch, a bowl of corn flakes on your belly and a muted viral video playing on Youtube in the background … and no IronMen Ministries Friday Morning Prayer Breakfast to start your weekend off right. Well, unless you live in a city or state that’s run by a certain misguided political party that shall remain nameless here …


The Little Things

By: G.J. Fortier

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)

Okay, okay, I know that the verse above is in sharp contrast to the title of this article, The little things, because the verses in Psalm 23 are some of the most powerful in the entire Bible.

That’s why I chose them to start this.

With everything that’s going on in the world today, it’s easy to get caught up in the—I hesitate to use the word hysteria … but I can’t think of a more appropriate one, so—hysteria and forget about … you guessed it … the little things. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have. I’ve gotten caught up in the fear and speculation of the end results of the turmoil we’re witnessing … well … everywhere we look. There doesn’t seem to be any way to get away from the bad news, conflict, and violence. But I’m here to remind you that there absolutely is. Are you ready? Here it is:


The Right Thing

By: G.J. Fortier

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. Ephesians 2:13-14 (NIV)

The times, they are a-changin’ … and not in a good way!

During my writing hiatus these past few months—believe it or not, I’ve been very, unusually, busy … go figure. I have had occasion to watch on that (idiot) box in my living room as more and more unprecedented and decidedly unpleasant events continue to unfold all around us. I’ve heard calls to “Defund the police” and “dismantle or disband the police”. I’ve heard the names, many of which I was brought up to believe were the hero’s, the Founding Fathers of this great nation as it was taught to me all those years ago, besmirched and insulted by people who seem to have no idea that this country wouldn’t exist for them to protest in had it not been for these great men and women. I’ve heard our government officials call for the tyranny and oppression of the capitalist system, upon which this country rose to significance on the world stage, to be dismantled and replaced with … well … to be honest, I have no idea what they want to replace it with.

Or do I?


Wisdom (a mini morsel)

By: G.J. Fortier

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

Okay, I know that things are changing quickly, so if you need me to wait …

Done waiting.

Two weeks ago, was Easter and I wrote about the need for us to obey our leaders. In that case, I was referring specifically to Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia (among other officials) who were advising us to stay at home and celebrate our Lord’s resurrection there. Last week, I wrote about patience, and why it’s important for us to wait for our officials to give us the “all’s clear” before we venture out of our caves again and start acting like human beings instead of morlocks.


Patience (a mini morsel)

By: G.J. Fortier

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Galatians 5:22 (NKJV)

Okay, it’s been … about a month. You’re antsy. You’re bored. You’re sick to death of bingeing on shows that you never seriously considered watching until this mess happened. It’s time! It’s time to get back out there! There are things that need doing! Games to be played! Bowling balls that need to be … bowl’d! There are jobs that need going to! There are bills that need payed! Careers are being, if not out-right destroyed, damaged beyond all understanding of what it will take to get them back on track. The President and all those smart people, doctors, scientists, men and women in suits who got where they are by winning popularity contests, who all say that they have a plan. Plans are good, right?


Easter! (a mini morsel)

By: G.J. Fortier

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. John 20: 1 (NIV)

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news. “I have seen the Lord!” John 20: 18 (NIV)

Now, y’all do remember last week’s article when I said that these are just opinion pieces, right?

Good.

It’s five something in the afternoon on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020. I just got home from work and took the dog out. Then I realized that I had a short article to write for publication on Friday, the 10th of April, 2020 … which is two days before Easter Sunday … and, up to now, I had no idea what I was going to write about. This is not, by any means, the first time that this has happened either. Often times I realize that a deadline is fast approaching and I’m at a loss for what to write about. And then, just like so many other times, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, telling me what the subject will be this time around.

Only this time He looked exactly like Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, wearing a blue oxford shirt and khakis.


Finding Peace in the Chaos

By: G. J. Fortier

Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me (Jesus). John 14:10 (NIV)

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24 (NIV)

For me to say that there’s a lot going on in our lives right now would be a bit of an oxymoron. Sure, there is a lot going on, but at the same time, it really seems to me as if our very way of life is in jeopardy of coming to a slow and painfully grinding halt. It feels—at least to me—like we just learned about COVID-19 only weeks ago. Okay, we knew it was “out there”, and that it was “serious”, but that it was “over there”, and we knew that things “like this” happen “all the time”, and that they don’t ever really seem to affect us that much. It does make for some interesting viewing on the nightly news though. Whether it was legionnaires disease back in the day, the swine Flu, bird flu, plain ole everyday flu-flu, SARS, zika, ebola, Spanish … I could go on, but I think you get the idea. There have been so many over the years that it’s easy to lose count. And, with the exception of the plain ole everyday flu-flu, influenza, most of us have only heard about them. And, concerning influenza, we were all vaguely aware that, tragically, tens of thousands of people in the United States alone die each year from this illness, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands who die worldwide. It’s a shame that it happened to those “other people”, but I just got a headache and some sniffles for a week and a half. No big deal, right?


Prudence! (a mini morsel)

By: G.J. Fortier

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Matthew 24: 6-8 (NIV)

For years, I’ve had a feeling, deep in my gut, that something was going to happen. Some of you may remember the predictions that I made about the “mini ice age”, the coming food shortages and the general unrest that the world was about to experience. While I stand by those predictions, I didn’t see this current crisis, that truly is of monumental proportions, coming.

I sincerely believe that people are making this much worse than it needs to be—just my opinion. But there are many reasons about which each and every one of us should be concerned. After all, you simply can’t have a crisis without people. I, personally, worry more about the actions and reactions of people during this emergency than I do about the emergency itself. By-and-large, people are irrational creatures. We tend to act impulsively based on current needs. Have you ever heard that you should never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach? Well, with what’s going on right now, multiply the craving that you develop for Twinkies (as you’re passing the shelf in the store—that you were trying to ignore—where they’re kept) by about … oh … say … a thousand, and you’ll get an idea of what motivates people to do what they do.

They panic buy.


Diligence!

By: G. J. Fortier

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7 (NIV)

I’m guilty, I admit it. I’m one of those people who said, “Oh, they’re blowin’ this coronavirus stuff all outta proportion. I don’t even drink that brand!” Or, “I’m more worried about gettin’ the flu than I am in gettin’ the coronavirus!” Or, “All they’re tryin’ to do is make Trump look bad!” While all of these statements are true, there’s one thing that I failed to consider: People will panic about what they don’t understand.

They say that, in any crisis, 10% of the people will freeze, 80% will