Have you noticed specific phrases appearing regularly on Social Media feeds? You may have heard or seen friends, relations, or church members posting or saying things like “research it,” “deep state,” #savethechildren, “Follow the White Rabbit,” “The Storm,” or “which pill are you taking?” You may even know people who have been putting a “Q” in their online profile name or directly talking about QAnon. You would have heard that Facebook and Twitter have been banning accounts linked to this QAnon.

Today, I want to consider the cult of QAnon and what it means for those of us who follow Jesus.

How it all began

In October 2017, an anonymous user called “Q” began placing a series of cryptic posts on the extreme internet message board known as 4chan. The user claimed to have a level of US security approval known as “Q clearance.” The identity of the original poster hasn’t been found. There has been tracking to a family living in The Philippines, however.

The messages from Q are known as “Q drops” or “breadcrumbs.” Since 2017, these Q Drops have been magnified by three individuals across multiple media platforms. This has built large profitable followings for them.

What QAnon believes

QAnon followers believe that the world is getting more corrupt, more dangerous, and more untrustworthy. They believe that Mr. Trump has been placed in power (some say by God) to tackle a secret “deep state” made up of Academics, Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Celebrities. QAnon followers call out enemies of the movement and the world in their posts and discussions. Material attacking the financier George Soros, the British Royal Family, Bill Gates, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama; Jeffrey Epstein; Joe Biden; The Pope; Freemasons, and Jews have been accelerating from QAnon to mainstream spaces.

QAnon alleges that a cabal of Satan-worshiping paedophiles runs a global child sex-trafficking ring and is plotting against President Donald Trump. The cabal (deep state) exists to control the population, steal money from ordinary citizens, and facilitate the kidnapping and trafficking of children between the secret “elite.” They believe Democrats (and socialists) are behind international crime rings. They think that people can access knowledge to avoid the elite’s worst actions, including removing our power to vote and move freely and imposing a “mark of the beast” through microchips or 5G technology.

QAnon believes in the existence of tunnels under the world’s major cities. They say these tunnels are used by paedophile celebrities and politicians to traffic children and harvest organs and blood for the elites to drink.

Subterranean structures have long piqued people’s interest. Some of these were created in the wake of WW2. Air raid shelters, long abandoned, remain in the public memory as a myth. For example, the fabled “Northcote Tunnel” in Melbourne was the subject of decades of rumour. It was eventually found to be the result of a search for an underground stream, not the large-scale 1940s American construction it was said to be. Today, urban tunnels carry telecommunications, gas, electricity, water, and sewerage infrastructure.

QAnon also believes in reptilian personages. “They are among us. Blood-drinking, flesh-eating, shape-shifting extra-terrestrial reptilian humanoids with only one objective in their cold-blooded little heads: to enslave the human race. They are our leaders, our corporate executives, our beloved Oscar-winning actors, and Grammy-winning singers, and they’re responsible for the Holocaust, the Oklahoma City bombings, and the 9/11 attacks.”

The reptilians or “Annunaki” have controlled humankind since ancient times; they count among their number Queen Elizabeth, George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Bob Hope. The reptiles are behind secret societies like the Freemasons and the Illuminati.

The Storm is Coming!

QAnon asserts that Trump is planning a day of reckoning known as “The Storm” when thousands of cabal members will be arrested, overthrown, imprisoned, or more chillingly slaughtered in a mass uprising. On discussion boards, Q followers talk openly and comfortably about burning libraries, hanging Hollywood stars, and shutting down universities. The Storm will be followed by a Golden Age for the USA and the world. One of the beliefs held by some QAnon followers is that John F. Kennedy, Jr., who died in 1999, will come back as a messianic figure and as Mr. Trump’s running mate. You can immediately see elements of the Christian Futurist apocalyptic movement here and understand why so many Christians have been deceived by this cult.

But QAnon also combines elements of the New Age movement. Monitoring suggests that people involved in QAnon are coming from a Christian or a New Age background. They regularly share memes and posts that incorporate messages from the Bible and the best-selling motivational book “The Secret.” Using the Internet, through YouTube videos, Facebook groups, WhatsApp chats, and Reddit feeds, Q has grown fast. Pew Research found that a considerable percentage of Americans support the movement. Support for QAnon is growing in Australia too.

Twenty-four politicians who support QAnon are running in the US 2020 congressional elections. This support is echoed across the post-Christian West, including Germany, NZ, UK, and Canada. While not taking hold as deeply, elements of the beliefs are emerging across Asia and Africa.

QAnon feels, for many, like a perfect movement for our time. It taps into the deep suspicion of institutions around the globe that appear to be failing. Parliaments seem deadlocked, divided, and ineffectual. Churches are perceived to have betrayed children; health systems have been unable to protect against COVID; conventional media outlets are seen as sources of “fake news,” academics are self-interested, and the rich are only in it themselves. In a time of uncertainty, having access to a secret knowledge connected to fixing a myriad of wrongs, particularly those done to kids, is very appealing.

The New Gnostics

The Bible says that “there is nothing new under the sun.” There are many parallels between QAnon and a religious and philosophical movement called the Gnostics. The Gnostics were active between 200 BCE and 400 CE. Gnosis means knowledge, and its followers believed they had access to secrets not known by the Church. They had very different views about the World, God, and the future to the Biblical writers. Like QAnon, they emerged in turbulent times and believed they were involved in a secret battle.

This is my first challenge. Just as Gnosticism was weighed and found incompatible with Christian faith, I argue that QAnon beliefs follow a similar pattern and are also not compatible, despite their use of Christian language.

We look to God and the Bible for guidance, not a secretive human (Q). When something happens that we don’t understand, we know that God has a more profound plan. We do not attempt to find a secret way forward. We know Jesus is our Messiah and not Q. Jesus revealed God by walking and talking amongst us and not hiding behind a secrecy shield. The Bible declares again and again that we need to be involved in openness with our message, patiently explaining the hope we have without resorting to cryptic hashtag hints.

QAnon also includes people who deny climate change, vaccination science, and the coronavirus pandemic. COVID19 is viewed as an excuse for these secretive world leaders to bring in a control mechanism, through 5G networks, and microchips hidden in the COVID19 vaccine.

In the US, 44% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats now believe Bill Gates is linked to a plot to use vaccinations as a pretext to implant microchips into people. 20% of young Australians believe that Bill Gates played a role in creating and spreading the coronavirus. Conspiracy theories about vaccines being the Mark of the Beast date back centuries. (When smallpox vaccines were introduced, they left a physical mark on the body).

Science, logic, & racism

As I have argued previously, science and logic are gifts from God that help us understand God’s creation. Science is not to be worshipped or feared or cast aside by Christians but used for good from eliminating disease and to increase food production. QAnon asks us to suspend belief in science and ignore Scientists as part of the evil elite.

Alongside the spiritual dangers is the reality that QAnon is recycling old racist myths. Some in QAnon have suggested that kidnapped children are being used in blood ceremonies ~ a false belief about Jews, which can be traced from the Middle Ages and was openly discussed under Nazism. There are numerous hints that the elite are heavily skewed to Jewish involvement echoing long-held anti-Semitic notions. To QAnon, the Black Lives Matters protests (racism) are financed by a Jewish/Freemason cabal to destroy Mr. Trump.

The mainstreaming of QAnon means that we see people we know and love held under a spell of misinformation. This is causing deep divisions across families, churches, communities, and political parties. We need to respond.

How to respond

We need to acknowledge that friends and loved ones are caught in a cultish mind-set. Many of us have been polite in the Church with how we think about QAnon and avoided labelling it for what it is.

  1. Pray: We need to surround those involved in QAnon with prayer across the Christian community. Instead of arguing with QAnon devotees, tell them you are praying for them. It is imperative we love people no matter how wacky they sound. It is tempting to laugh at people’s weird beliefs, but what these people are looking for are hope, love, and safety. Not giving them a safe space by mocking and debating them is actually unhelpful.
  2. Love: Engage with the person lovingly. Fact-checking is not a solution for them. Remember, they don’t trust the media. Fact-checkers are seen as the police of our online world in this New World Order! The fact-checking approach actually makes the QAnon followers more entrenched in their beliefs. QAnon followers are not operating according to logic or reason.
  3. Question: New conspiracies dramatically boost existing conspiratorial narratives across the community. Ask polite questions to challenge their beliefs. For example, “Can you share some more about how every government can introduce COVID into every country in the world? I struggle with seeing how any government could organise anything that big.”

As Christians, we need to give hope to people without hope, knowledge to people who hunger after new knowledge and point to Jesus and share an inspiring story of what God is doing in people’s lives. Churches need to pivot to a point where we are offering hope, not control. Followers of Jesus need to be humble and prayerful in this space.

On October 2, President Donald J. Trump and his wife and 43,751 other Americans tested positive for COVID19.

Christians worldwide have been asked to pray for the President of the USA. For example, Eugene Cho, head of Christian advocacy organisation “Bread for the World,” asked Twitter followers to “put aside partisan politics and genuinely lift up the President and FLOTUS in prayer.” Franklin Graham has Declared a Day of Prayer for President Trump. And James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr, Jack Graham, Robert Jeffress, and Paula White have all joined this call.

The question many have asked is, how and what do we pray? How should we, as followers of Jesus, react at this moment?


To Pray or Not to Pray?

Mr. Trump cuts a divisive figure as President. Christians are divided on partisan grounds, with some consistently believing Mr. Trump has been placed by God to lead the USA. Others believe he and his values are anathema to the Christian faith. There appears to be little middle ground. The response to the calls to prayer for the President has been just as divisive. Some people are praying for a miraculous cure, while others are praying for his demise.

Let me be clear, I am not telling people how to vote or which policies are appropriate or inappropriate. I have consistently made it clear in my writing and speaking that I’m all for Christians engaging with politics and standing for political office. I have called on Christians to focus on our central message – the good news about God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Anything that clouds that message is an enemy of the Gospel.

Throughout history, Christians have enjoyed long periods of peace under wise and just rules. In these times, we have been able to share the good news and live out the kingdom of God in our communities. At other times, Christians have come under intense and cruel persecutions by malicious, brutal leaders.

Christians have also been divided, at times, on how to react to a leader. For example, former President Jimmy Carter, who made his faith tradition a central platform in his campaign and office, divided Christians. Many found his Biblical appeal for racial equality attractive and admired his inclusion of human rights in American foreign policy. Others were concerned that Mr. Carter did not appear strongly enough against abortion, Communism, or homosexuality.

Christianity, Politics and the 1980’s

Pastors during the 1980 Carter-Reagan election often faced divided congregations. Many had church members angry that their pastor was or was not endorsing one of the candidates as God’s chosen.

During the 1980’s, political divisions amongst Christians began to more overtly appear. Sadly, today, there are significant political divisions across Christendom. Each side declares that God supports their view, their political party, their leader. Christians and churches are divided across the USA and other countries. Sadly, as I have previously noted, this form of political engagement is alienating non-Church people from us.

Paul’s Thoughts on Praying for Leaders

The Apostle Paul challenges these divisions with some straightforward advice on how we should pray for leaders. Advice the church needs to heed during peace, times of turmoil, and moments where humans do not agree with each other. In his letter to Timothy, Paul said: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people— for rulers and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God, our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2: 1–4).

I think it’s essential that we understand why Paul told Timothy (pastor of the Ephesian church) to pray “for rulers and those in authority:”

  • That followers of Jesus can “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
  • That “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Paul says, “This is good and pleases God, our Saviour.”

Christians must bear this in mind every time we type a response to a political post on Facebook, or enter a discussion with our family, head to the ballot box, or pray for a President with a potentially life-threatening virus.

Paul’s aim is in line with God’s who “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” All people. Not just Democrats. Not just Republicans. Not Just Independents, or liberals, greens, or socialists. All people – conservative and radical; left and right. This should be the overriding goal for Christians – that all people come to a place of following Jesus.

A great way to pray for the President of the USA is that Mr. Trump would look to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. And exercise power in such a way that the Gospel can grow across the USA and the globe.

Therefore, this call to prayer for the US President can unite Christians in sharing the Gospel with the world rather than turning Christians into partisan political warriors distracted from our fundamental mission. Which way will you stand?

Lord, we send petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving for all people— for Mr. Trump and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness so that all people will be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Amen!

I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural.

When I was in my early teens, living in Perth, my parents developed a close friendship with a British couple. We’d catch up regularly, and invariably the conversation would move quickly to astrology and the occult. We’d talk for hours about astral walking, seances, and star signs. I read books on astrology and became quite an expert on the various star signs, the characteristics, cusps, and compatibilities.

One of my mates was a Christian. He and his family attended church weekly, and when I stayed with them, I would go too. It was a traditional church, and it struck me as dull and irrelevant. I certainly didn’t see or hear anything about supernatural things. I concluded that religion in general and Christianity in particular, held no interest for me. In any case, I was an atheist. My beliefs and practices with the supernatural world were separate from religion.

Things changed for me in my late teens. I graduated from high school, worked for a year, completed Radio Announcing School, and started my first job on a Top 40 commercial station in Western Australia. A good mate was hitchhiking around Australia, and he asked me to go with him. So, with a backpack and sleeping bag in place, off we set. You can watch the whole story here.

In Northern NSW, I hitched a ride in a truck heading to Sydney. The truck driver, Malcolm, told me he was a “born again Christian”. I had no idea what he meant, but I knew it wasn’t good! I was stuck in a truck for a day with a religious zealot! About two hours into the trip, we were involved in a head-on collision with another truck in which two guys died. Malcolm and I were rushed to the hospital, but remarkably neither of us was seriously injured. A few days later, Malcolm’s wife, Lynne, arrived to drive us to Sydney. I stayed with the family for a few weeks while I recovered.

Lynne and I hit it off big time, playing Scrabble, chatting, and drinking tea. Lynne was allergic to cigarette smoke, so I finally gave up smoking while I was staying with them. Invariably our conversations drifted into the realm of the supernatural. Lynne was a new Christian with all the zeal that one would expect from a recent convert. She spoke of the supernatural elements of Christianity. I was fascinated. I’d never heard of speaking in tongues. Lynne talked about God speaking to her, healing their marriage, and changing their lives. She said Jesus was a real person in the here and now – not just a historical figure. I was hooked.

After a few weeks, I asked if I could go to church with them. Of course, they said “yes”, so off we set. Bethel Foursquare Church was a small congregation with all the enthusiasm demonstrated by Malcolm, Lynne, and their sons. The service made a significant impact on me. When the invitation was given to commit my life to Jesus, I responded. When I was being prayed for, I felt like I was going to fall over. I thought, “I can’t fall over in church!” But later, I found out that it would have been okay. It was another manifestation of this supernatural God.

Malcolm passed away in 2000, and three years ago, Lynne was diagnosed with cancer. I went and visited her in Port Kembla on the NSW south coast. We spent three amazing days together talking about the past 40 years since that fateful truck accident. I recorded a brief video chat with Lynne that you can watch here.

So, it was the supernatural elements of Christianity that first attracted me to Jesus. And it’s been those things that have kept me on this journey for over four decades. Now I can hear some people saying, “your faith has to be built on the Word, not on experience.” I partly agree. The Word (Christian-speak for the Bible) is essential for growing in maturity, understanding God’s nature, and how to live a God-pleasing life. But the Word is also full of peoples’ experiences of God – his power, his presence, his prevailing on their behalf.

I thank God that we get to feel his presence. That our faith doesn’t just rest on facts and head knowledge but heart experience. In Romans 10:2, Paul described his own people this way: “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” In other words, they were people that had a great passion for God. Their minds were excited about God, but this zeal was not based on knowledge (Greek. “epignosis”).

“Gnosis” in Greek refers to head knowledge. “Epignosis” is heart knowledge or deep inner experience of God as a supernatural bring. I don’t doubt that many people sincerely believe in God and Jesus. They may know a lot about God, but the knowledge is head-bound. What’s needed is a theological landslide from head to heart, from facts to experience.

Since my Christian conversion 43 years ago, I have continued to develop a supernatural faith. And it’s this faith that led me to pioneer Bayside Church 28 years ago. Out of one of the most challenging seasons in my life, God called. Prophetic words flowed from five different people. God was letting me know that what he’d spoken to me about in 1988 was about to be fulfilled.

In my observations of the Christian church as a young man, I often questioned why some churches were strong on the Word but didn’t give room to the Spirit, which the Word taught about. Other churches were strong in the Spirit but weak in the Word. Why I asked God, can’t a church be strong in the Word AND the Spirit? God told me, “Go and start one.” So, I did, and the rest is history.

Today, two of our Bayside Church Core Values are:

“Living and loving the Word of God,” and

“Contending for the supernatural.”

Sure, there are seasons when one has been emphasised more than the other. But we have stayed true to the initial calling to be a church of the Word and the Spirit.

I am grateful to God for leading me to Malcolm and Lynne and the legacy they left in my life. I am thankful to be introduced to a supernatural faith through a little church in Sydney’s western suburbs. I am humbled to be guided by God these past 43 years and continue to see his supernatural presence transform, heal, intercede, and provide.


*timeframes mentioned in this blog are based on original published date

The first thing I read from the Bible today was this verse: “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). It was timely for me to read this as Paul infers that there is an incorrect way to explain Scripture. This leads me to a question I was asked yesterday:

“Hi Pastor Rob, Gary Ablett Snr has posted a half-hour video on end times. He may be a bit off track with some of his views. I would be interested in your thoughts.” So, here are my thoughts.

Firstly, Gary was a fantastic footballer! Probably one of the greatest AFL players of all time. He is a four-time All-Australian and three-time Coleman Medallist. He was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame and was named in the AFL Team of the Century.

Now, I know a few things about football, and I could go on the Internet and find out more. But I would not upload a 27-minute video of me talking about footy. I’d leave that to Gary. But these days, every man and his dog can talk about the Bible, whether they’re qualified or not. They’ve done the research (read, google-search) and, as Gary says, “I haven’t said anything that I can’t back up with solid evidence.” The “solid evidence” turns out to be three messages from NZ evangelist, Barry Smith, who passed away in 2002.

In the 27-minute video titled What’s really going on and who’s behind it all,” Gary says, “I’ve studied a lot of end times Bible prophecy, and it’s all happening right now.” He talks about the Illuminati takeover of the world, a New World Order and the antichrist, and his belief that COVID-19 is human-made. My intentions for writing this blog are not to criticise Gary Ablett. He is my brother in Christ, and I don’t doubt his sincerity. But I believe he is sincerely wrong. So, let’s take a look at what the Bible says about these things as I seek to be one who “correctly explains the word of truth.”

End Times

The “end times” are frequently spoken of in evangelical/Pentecostal churches, but this expression is not found in the Bible. The Bible does talk about the last days, however: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Acts 2:15). These words were quoted from the prophet Joel by the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost in AD 30. So, the last days began approximately 1,990 years ago. The writer of Hebrews says the last days began with Jesus (Hebrews 1:2). Are we living in the last days? Yes, we have been for quite a while!

Sadly, much of what has been taught about the so-called end times is frankly wrong. The foundation for “modern” Bible prophecy interpretation was laid in the 1800s by John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren. The 1909 publication of the Scofield Reference Bible caused Darby’s views to go mainstream.

John Nelson Darby became the Plymouth Brethren’s dominant personality but, in 1845, disputes over doctrine split the Brethren. Darby’s followers formed a closely-knit federation of churches and were known as Exclusive Brethren. This cult still exists today, although it has suffered further splits over the years. The “prince of preachers,” Charles Spurgeon, also claimed Darby’s teachings to be false. And so, much of the modern understanding of Bible prophecy originated from a heretical cult leader. These false interpretations of Scripture were then popularised by books and movies (like the Left Behind series) and perpetrated by many preachers.

The Illuminati

The Illuminati was founded in Bavaria on May 1, 1776. However, unlike Gary Ablett’s claims, they were not dedicated to global domination. Its purpose was to discuss what was at the time dangerously radical ideas (secularism and women’s rights). Carl Theodore, the Duke of Bavaria, banned the group in the summer of 1784, and three years later, the society was no more. Now, if you go online, you’ll find that you can join the Illuminati. There’s an address in Nigeria, and they want your money! Other than that, the Illuminati only exist in the minds of conspiracy Christians.

New World Order

Gary Ablett spoke of the “New world order” “so they can put Lucifer on the throne of the world.” The Bible doesn’t mention a new world order either by word or concept. It’s just not there!

In fact, the only thing that comes close to a new order is found in Hebrews 9:10: “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” Hebrews is a beautiful reflection on the Old and New Covenants (Testaments) and why the “New” is better than the “Old.” In chapter nine, the author compares the Old Covenant worship practices of animal sacrifice, various gifts & ceremonial washings with the New Covenant based on the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus ushered in a new order of worship. At the end of this age, God will create a new heaven and a new earth and lead us into a new era (Revelation 21-22; Mark 10:30).


Many Christians believe in the arrival of a man who will lead a one-world government that brings in the “New world order.” I wrote about this fictional character in a blog recently, so I won’t say too much here.

In short, anyone who opposes Christ is the antichrist. But these people are not the same as the Beast of Revelation 13, who is often mistakenly called the antichrist. The Beast is not a person – people rarely crawl out of the sea sporting seven heads with ten horns! The Beast is the Roman Empire of the first century which, amongst other things, persecuted God’s people, especially during the reign of Nero. Nero Caesar’s name has a numeric value of 666. It could be said that any world system that stands opposed to, and persecutes, followers of Jesus is an antichrist system. But a man who will lead a one-world government is a mythical figure and the figment of an overly fertile imagination!

COVID-19 manufactured

Gary Ablett says COVID-19 is Human-made and deliberately released to crash the global economy, introduce a cashless society, Mark of the Beast, WW3, and reduce the population to 500,000. Apparently, it will be easier for the Illuminati to control half a million people rather than 7.7 billion!

This conspiracy theory first surfaced in March, stating that COVID-19 was made by scientists and had escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. On April 16, the U.S. government said it was investigating this possibility. A group of researchers compared the genome of this novel coronavirus with the seven other coronaviruses known to infect humans: “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

But why let the facts stand in the way of a good conspiracy!

Gary makes many other claims in his video:

Antichrist will make a seven-year peace treaty with Israel and the Arabic nations.

The Jews will rebuild their temple.

The antichrist will set up his image in the temple.

A global economy and cashless society are coming and will be controlled by the Illuminati.


Gary Ablett and I find strong agreement with his love for Jesus and looking forward to his return. Like Gary, I want to see people discover God’s love for them and the forgiveness and freedom that Jesus gives. But scaring people with baseless claims that vaccines will kill us and change our DNA forever (what both?) is not the Christian way.

These are not the best of times, nor are they the worst of times.

Some people are faring better than others in this pandemic altered world. Others are finding the isolation and particularly the uncertainty of the future difficult to deal with.

That’s why, certainly in Christian circles, the metaphor of ‘wandering in the desert’ is particularly popular at the moment.

We have, many of us, an indelible image of the ancient Jewish nation, newly freed from slavery in Egypt, wandering around in the desert for forty long years.

It’s an amazing story of hope and hardship, doubt and division. Does that sound familiar?

One of my spiritual hobbies is reading Bible stories and then trying to find parallels in my own life. It gives the stories relevance in my world, which is so different from the biblical world.

I have a modern-day story that might shed some light on handling the anxiety you may be feeling at this difficult time.

It’s about a desert wandering I did, but this was a wet desert – not hot, but icy cold.

The experience is helping me face another desert crossing I’ve been forced into which has lasted eleven years so far.


Adult Themes Nudity 

Course Language 

Up until ten years ago, I was a keen swimmer. Not talented, but dedicated. Four days a week I swam about two kilometres in the local public pool. Occasional on a weekend this distance might double.

As well as pool swims, I was talked into entering a number of bay swims. The famous Pier To Pub, the Portsea Classic and several others became fixtures in my life.

Winning for me did not mean reaching the end first. Finishing was my goal.

To achieve this I developed a simple routine. Two weeks before a race I made sure that, in a single session, I swam one and a half times the distance of the upcoming event.

I did this more for mental reassurance than for fitness. If I’d already done it in the pool I was confident I’d manage the race itself.

Then some of my swimming buddies, all at least twenty years younger than me, let slip that they had entered an event I’d never heard of.

‘The Big Bay Swim’ was a race from Beacon Cove to Williamstown – across the shipping lanes of Port Phillip Bay.

The entry form said it was four point five kilometres, which was more than double the longest distance I had attempted outside of a pool.

In spite of my slight trepidation, I filled in the form.

On the day, in the cold predawn darkness, I drank some extra water and ate my final food before the race – a banana. I wondered whether my preparation had been adequate.

About three hundred of us waited on the shoreline. Nothing happened for what felt like an eternity.

This sent my carefully calculated routine into disarray.

I’m not a control freak, but in those days I hadn’t learned to loosen my grip on things and let my confidence rest with a higher power. I was the skipper of my boat, and did my own navigation too. Graham the Great! Not outwardly arrogant, but inwardly unprepared to submit to God’s guidance.

I was very much like many of those people in that ancient desert.

Eventually, a voice from above, speaking over a loud hailer, informed us that the event officials had been waiting for clearance from the Port Authority to ensure all shipping was clear before sending us off.

Then I heard some course language that shocked me as I stood there in my tracksuit.

‘Oh. By the way, we’ve had to adjust the course slightly, so it’s now five point two kilometres, not four point five.’

My confidence, normally buoyant, sank into my slippers, which I wore to keep my feet warm before entering the dark water.

This swim was testing me even before I was wet.

A few minutes later, stripped to my skimpy Speedos, and Gaynor departed with my clothes and towels to meet me on the other side, I was as ready as the circumstances allowed. Naked in body and spirit.

The first wave of swimmers was set off. These were the under thirties. Ten minutes later the megaphone voice had the Seniors step up.

We were not athletic looking, so the low light was a blessing. There were a few skinny bodies and many more that were distinctly aquatic in shape. Most wore wetsuits, but not this little black duck.

I could say I was old school and tough, but the truth is I was not prepared to spend money on something I might only use a handful of times.

I stood and looked across the sparkling water to orientate myself. Way off in the distance I could make out the giant cranes in the naval dockyard. They were lit up like Christmas trees and seemed much closer than five point two kilometres away.

‘Take your marks … GO!

Off we waddled into Port Phillip Bay, goggles protecting our eyes and swim caps making us more visible in the dark water.

It was from this moment that I became focused solely on myself.

When the water was up to my knees I lunged forward in a shallow dive. There were bodies all around me threshing away in the darkness, but I was oblivious.

With my legs kicking and my arms stroking through the water, I was off.

It was great to be in action at last, and I surged ahead. My body was performing, but my mind was somehow still computing my compromised preparation.

It took a short time to get into my stride, and even less time to shudder to a stop.

I looked ahead to the cranes way over there in Williamstown, then turned to look at where I’d come from.

About five hundred metres was all I’d managed before succumbing to utter exhaustion.

I couldn’t believe it! What was going on? Surely I could swim further than this! But my arms and shoulders were aching.

‘I’d better not go further. Thank goodness I’m only this far from the shore.’

That was my first thought. Relief of sorts. My next was almost panic inducing.

‘If I swim back to shore I’ll be wet, almost completely naked, and there’s no way of contacting Gaynor.’

My mind raced as my legs treaded water and I weighed up my limited options.

‘I can’t go forward, but I can’t go back either.’

That was the emotional voice in my head focusing on all the negatives.

‘Take us back to Egypt, Moses. Slavery was better than this. At least we knew what to expect. It’s all your fault we’re in this mess.’

But then another voice in my head became audible.

‘Get a grip, Graham. You’ve swum much further before, so what’s the problem now?’

A dialogue started to unfold as more swimmers passed me. They sparked a reaction.

‘If they can do it, so can I. Can’t I?’

After what seemed like ten minutes, but was probably only ten seconds, I struck a deal with myself. It was hard bargaining, I can tell you.

‘I WILL do one hundred strokes towards the finish before I allow myself to stop again.’

I shook hands with myself and off I went, in the wake of several aquatic shapes, who were becoming more visible in the dawn light.

What began as a one, two, three, four count each time a hand hit the water, soon progressed to a twenty, and a twenty one, and a twenty two, count each time my right hand went in.

When I got to around eighty strokes I renegotiated with myself because I was feeling quite good. The goal became one hundred and fifty strokes before I’d allow myself to stop.

I kept moving the goal further out and never stopped again until I arrived on the other side, in Williamstown, underneath the cranes.

The lesson for me was understanding that focus is important, but even more important is what you focus on.

Looking back now at the race, I realise that when I was at my weakest, in the darkness and feeling at my most vulnerable, I was being gifted my greatest strength. And that was where I won my personal race.

So look at adversity as an opportunity to grow.

I came so close to giving up and turning back to the safety of the shore, not knowing what I would have lost.

An attitude of ‘Are we there yet’ only makes the journey seem longer.

The wise among us start each morning by saying to themselves, in spite of the circumstances facing them: ‘This is the day that the Lord has made. What’s the best I can do with it?’

Looking toward the week and the month and beyond brings with it dangers to our endeavour.

Adult Themes

Here’s the Adult Theme. The situation all of us are facing with the pandemic still around, is that it, like the journey of life itself, is full of changing courses, unforeseen obstacles and moments when we will feel uncomfortably exposed.

How you handle it is a matter of which internal voice you choose to listen to. That is why it’s such a blessing to have the Scriptures downloaded onto your mental hard drive for easy access in critical moments.

That way you can drown out the arguments that go on in your head each time you hit a hurdle.

Gaynor read from James 1 some words that are relevant to any desert wandering.

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’

Over the past few weeks, I’ve addressed some of the conspiracy fallacies being spread around even by Christians. In response to these blogs, I’ve had people comment, question, agree and disagree. And that’s all fine. After all, that’s what blogs are written for ~ to encourage discussion and debate.

What fascinates me though, is some people’s propensity to send a link to a YouTube clip, news article, or Facebook post as the final word. Little is done to check its source or accuracy: “I saw this, and it contradicts what you’re saying, so you’re wrong.” That’s their message over and over. And so, this week, I thought I’d address some of the current COVID myths:

The Depopulation Agenda

After last week’s blog defending Bill Gates I had many people give me information as to why this man is evil. One reason is that Bill Gates believes in depopulation. Misconceptions and misinformation have been spread by conspiracy “news” sites such as Your News Wire (Now Newspunch).

Depopulation is NOT killing or sterilising people by injecting them with vaccines. Depopulation is about creating an environment that reduces infant mortality. Due to high infant mortality rates in some countries, couples choose to have a larger number of children so that at least some will survive. Bill Gates is not interested in using vaccines to reduce the population by using them as an agent of death or a tool to sterilise unsuspecting masses. Instead, Gates is interested in keeping more children alive to reduce the need for parents to have more children, limiting the overall population growth rate.

And, think of this from a Christian perspective. Imagine the trauma that parents face by losing many children. Reducing child mortality enhances life, prosperity, and wellbeing. It brings some heaven to earth as The Lord’s Prayer says. And so, depopulation is not about reducing the world’s population but instead slowing the rate at which it grows.

Covid-19 is Just Flu

“We the body of Christ can’t gather because of the flu,” someone wrote in a blog comment this week. But COVID-19 is not the flu.

2019 was the second-worst flu season on record. Over 300,000 people were infected with the flu, and sadly 902 died in Australia. The death rate was not higher because most people in Australia have some immunity to the flu, either through previous illness or immunisation. This means if they catch the flu, they are likely to experience a milder illness.

We have highly effective vaccines available for the flu. Studies have shown that people who have the vaccine tend to avoid contracting the virus or, if they do, experience milder illness and are less likely to require hospitalisation. They are also less likely to pass on the virus, which reduces community transmission. For those who do contract the flu, there are effective treatments available. Antiviral medications are widely used and have been shown to reduce the symptoms and the risk of developing severe illness from the flu virus.

Now consider COVID-19. It is at least 30 times deadlier than the seasonal flu and four times more infectious. There is no vaccine and no proven treatment for COVID-19. 15% of people infected with COVID-19 have a severe infection, requiring oxygen, and 5% are acute infections, requiring ventilation. The length of stay in the hospital is much longer for COVID-19 compared to the flu. 25% of survivors have severe organ damage. Many will develop ongoing chronic health problems due to the virus, including heart and lung complications and post-viral fatigue. With no vaccine and no effective treatments, COVID-19 is far deadlier than the flu. This is why we have lockdowns.

Vaccines are Harmful

Sadly, the “Gates’ vaccines used to sterilise Kenyan women” conspiracy is once again doing the rounds. This has been debunked numerous times, but it surfaces from time to time. People blindly share it without doing sufficient fact-checking. The sterilisation claim is more than 20 years old. It has been repeatedly debunked by the World Health Organisation and others ever since.

For those who may be concerned about the impact of vaccines, there are significant safety measures. Australia has an incredibly robust and rigorous vaccine approval process. Besides, EVERY adverse reaction to a vaccine is monitored. Some people DO have adverse reactions – the number of adverse reactions is hundreds out of millions vaccinated. Usually, it has to do with pain at the injection site. Tiredness and irritability are also adverse reactions. Hospitalisation is very, very, very rare.

Vaccines Made From Aborted Babies

Others are concerned that the COVID-19 vaccine will be “ethically tainted” by aborted foetal cells. It is true that some vaccines, and some of the COVID-19 vaccines, are developed using cell lines from legally aborted foetuses (two from the 1960s). No foetus has been aborted to create a vaccine.

Vaccines are researched, developed, and produced through the use of laboratory-grown human cells. The vaccines themselves contain none of the original cells. The Catholic Church, which opposes abortion, has stated: “vaccination should not be refused on moral grounds in cases where the public health benefits of vaccination may outweigh the use of aborted foetal tissue to develop some vaccines when an alternative vaccine created from cell lines that are not morally problematic are not available.”

I understand some people’s concerns about this issue. But, if we are genuinely pro-life, our concern must be the protection of the living. As noted already, COVID-19 is an incredibly infectious virus that is extremely dangerous to many people and deadly to some.

Covid-19 Vaccine Microchip

Some have suggested that the eventual COVID-19 vaccine is a ploy by the cabal to inject us with a microchip. This is all part of the one-world government plot. It’s also an incorrect interpretation of Revelation chapter 13.

While it is true that Microsoft has a patent application with the numbers 060606 in it, this is for a system that rewards physical activity with cryptocurrency. It has nothing to do with injectable microchips. In any case, the technology to insert a trackable microchip does not exist at this time. If and when it does, the hypodermic needles would be considerable. For this to be possible, every doctor, nurse, and medical professional worldwide would have to be in on the conspiracy. This is beyond impossible.

Covid-19’s Inflated Numbers

A comment on my Facebook thread said, “NYT posted. Corona numbers in the US inflated by 90%.” No, the NYT did not report this. The New York Times responded to a claim made by Donald Trump suggesting the death count was inflated. The opposite is probably true. NYT reported, “the death toll is probably far higher than what is publicly known. People are dying at their houses and nursing homes without ever being tested, and deaths early this year were likely misidentified as influenza or described only as pneumonia.”

If anything, the Covid-19 numbers that are reported are lower than the real numbers.

It’s 5G’s Fault

“The 5G network apparently weakens the human immune system, and COVID-19 is just a symptom of this weakened immunity” ~ that’s one of the conspiracy myths currently doing the rounds. While 5G uses higher radio frequencies than previous generations (in the 30-300 gigahertz range), there’s not enough energy to break chemical bonds or remove electrons when in contact with human tissue.

5G is approved by the federal government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency as not having more intense radiation’s adverse health effects. Even when you put your 5G mobile to your ear to make a call, radiation exposure is well below the recommended safety level. 5G radiation can’t penetrate skin or allow a virus to penetrate the skin. There is no evidence 5G radio frequencies cause or exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus. Radiation and viruses exist in different forms that do not interact. One is a biological phenomenon and the other lives on the electromagnetic spectrum.

Event 201

The Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted Event 201 in October 2019. Event 201 was a simulation on how to respond to a global coronavirus pandemic. Obviously, this has been viewed as too coincidental ~ or something more insidious!

Johns Hopkins has received a lot of questions about this and made a statement on their website.

In recent years, the world has seen a growing number of epidemic events, amounting to approximately 200 events annually. These events are increasing, and they are disruptive to health, economies, and society. It is only right that medical & benevolent institutions and governments should prepare for these. I see it as preparation for the inevitable.

I hope my comments help you sift through all the information, myths, lies, and conspiracies that are doing the rounds. I encourage you to place your faith firmly in The One who holds this world in his hands. Let’s confess with the psalmist, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Ps 16:8).

As I’ve noted a few times in recent blogs, conspiracy theories are sadly one of pandemics’ symptoms. But no one has copped more flack from conspiracy theorists during the COVID-19 Pandemic than Bill Gates. Consider these as just an example:

  • Bill Gates briefed the CIA about a “mind-altering vaccine.”
  • Italy has called for his arrest.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is spending billions to ensure that all medical and dental injections and procedures include tracking microchips.
  • Gates said a coronavirus vaccine would “permanently alter your DNA.”
  • Mr Gates has admitted, “his COVID-19 vaccine might kill nearly 1 million people.”
  • He leads a class of global elites.
  • He is leading efforts to depopulate the world.
  • Bill Gates has been warning of a worldwide pandemic for years (true) and actually brought the virus into the world (untrue)
  • The Gates Foundation has tested vaccines on children in Africa and India, leading to thousands of deaths and irreversible injuries. One post even suggested he is facing trial in India.
  • He is accused of rolling out a tetanus vaccine in Kenya that includes abortion drugs.
  • He is linked with China’s communist party.

People share these conspiracies as fact on social media. Others share the posts with little or no fact-checking. And, off it goes—viral rubbish circulated as truth.

Why Bill Gates?

Rory Smith, from fact-checkers First Draft News writes, “[Bill Gates] is this kind of voodoo doll that all these communities are pricking with their own conspiracies. And it is unsurprising he has become the voodoo doll – because he has always been the face of public health.” 

Of course, Bill & Melinda Gates are easy targets. They are famous, powerful, and rich. Before the Gates, George Soros, the Koch brothers, the Rothschilds, and the Rockefellers were all the targets of conspiracies. As a young Christian, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers funded the Illuminati that would introduce the one-world government and the antichrist. How wrong I was.

In a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI and the Allensbach Institute, respondents in four countries were presented with the following statement: “Those who are very rich and want more and more power are to blame for many of the major problems in the world, such as financial or humanitarian issues.”

In Germany, 50% of interviewees agreed with this statement, roughly twice as many as in Great Britain and in the United States (25% and 21%, respectively).

Trying to Find a Scapegoat

Crises like the current pandemic are often complicated in nature. There are aspects of the virus, treatment, and ultimate cure that are difficult to understand. It’s so much easier to attribute the crisis to something sinister and straightforward.

It’s caused by these wealthy, influential people who have a malevolent agenda. Psychologist Peter Glick put it this way, “Scapegoat movements attract followers by offering simpler, culturally plausible explanations and solutions for shared negative events.”

What concerns me more than anything, though, is the number of Christians – you know, followers of Jesus, The Truth – who are propagating these lies.

Rather than undertaking diligent research through credible sources, these theorists blindly agree with and share their “truth”. Behaviour like this is inconsistent with people who uphold the Gospel of Jesus and are hopefully filled with the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13).

Don’t Walk Blindly

Christianity’s credibility is seriously eroded, especially by conservative, evangelical & Pentecostal Christians (my tribe). As mentioned in previous blogs, many people in these groups hold to a modern understanding of Bible prophecy, popularised by a cult leader.

Many Christians today are waiting for an antichrist, one-world government, cashless society, and great tribulation and often interpret crises as forerunners to these events. It’s no wonder then that these same people will fall hook, line, and sinker for conspiracy theories that back up their interpretation of Bible prophecy.

Beliefs such as these are powerful. I mean, they are based on the Bible, the Word of God, right? And so, rather than living life to bring heaven to earth (as Jesus taught his followers to pray), these Christians live with an expectation that hell on earth is just around the corner. A crisis is relished, as long as it doesn’t come too close. Governments are merely puppets controlled by a group rich, powerful, and famous people (a cabal or cartel) who have a hidden agenda of world domination.

Many of these conspiracies contradict each other. Suppose you consider all the theories and conspiracy trends. This is what you arrive at: Covid-19 doesn’t exist; it’s a hoax, a phantom virus made in a lab near Wuhan, or the USA, by the Chinese or the Americans. It’s harmless, and just an excuse to limit our freedom, and it’s deadly and is being used for population control. It’s being released so that we need to be given a vaccine to survive, so the microchip injected into us when we received the vaccine will also kill us to reduce the population to stop global warming, which isn’t even a thing. This is so the looney left can spread socialism and communism so they can control all the people. These people are already dead and already controllable because of the microchips. And all of that is actually just a hoax to distract us from the rollout of 5G, which is designed to kill us for one of the reasons already noted above!

An Apology to the Gates Family

I hope this minor rant will demonstrate how ridiculous all of this posturing really is. And I think we need to give a massive apology to Bill and Melinda Gates. I’ve never met them, but I’d like to one day. What I’ve seen and read about them has always impressed me. Melinda Gates’ Catholic faith appears to be the motivating force behind the Gates Foundation, which they created in 2000. Since then, they have given away more than $45 billion (approximately half of their wealth). Their priorities are fighting diseases, reducing extreme poverty, and improving maternal health – the foundation partners with many organisations. Faith-based groups – including Catholic organisations, World Vision, Lutheran groups, and the Salvation Army – are key recipients of more than 125 foundation grants.

I know that Bill Gates is aware of the conspiracy theories circulating about him. He’s addressed them publicly. What concerns me is that he is also probably aware that Christian people are amongst their biggest spreaders. And so, I apologise to Bill and Melinda Gates. Please don’t think all followers of Jesus are like this. Many of us appreciate the work you and Melinda are doing, and we don’t believe you have an insidious agenda. Like us, we assume you have the vision to make this world a better place, to create heaven on earth.

As for the conspiracy theorists, I know you will write to me and give me “proof” that I’m wrong. It’ll come in the form of a YouTube clip, or meme, or article from some dodgy website. So, let me save you the time. I’ve done the research, and you’re wrong. But one thing I need to let you know. The term “conspiracy theory” was invented by the CIA. Fact!


Thanks to Doctor Google, everyone can know everything about everything. Everyone can be an expert! It’s really quite simple:

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Do a Google search
  3. Choose one or two of the 442 million results that pop up in a few seconds
  4. Ignore the others, especially the ones that disagree with you
  5. Share expert advice on your social media platforms so others can share your research without checking the facts.

This happens millions of times every day. Some of these things end up in my Messenger Inbox.

For example, a friend recently sent me a clip from Sky News commentator, Rowan Dean. There was no message. No context. Just a clip. So, I watched it and wasn’t surprised. Sky News leans Right, but their news opinion segments are partisan Right. So, you wouldn’t put much credibility in Sky unless you wanted a far-right bent that agreed with your own bias.

In this clip, Rowan Dean waxed eloquently for seven minutes about how Sweden “got it right,” while other countries, including Australia, got it very wrong. I don’t know Rowan Dean. I do know that he’s an advertising executive. I don’t think he’s medically trained. Still, he seemed confident that Sweden got it right by not embracing the harsh lockdown measures adopted by other countries. To back up his opinion, he quoted several sources, all of them right-biased:

  • The UK Telegraph has a mixture of factual and non-factual reporting. It sometimes publishes misleading reports and omits to report information that may damage conservative causes.
  • The Spectator Australia: Rowan Dean is the editor (no conflict of interest there)
  • The Daily Mail: scores “Low” on factual reporting and shows extreme right-bias, poor sourcing to credible information, and is prone to conspiracies and fake news.

Quoting any of these sources is like me saying, “It’s true. I read it in the Herald Sun.” Understand that algorithms will feed you content that is similar to what you’ve already read when you search on the Internet.

The danger here is that you can think the whole world agrees with you. To counter this, you must glean information from a wide range of credible references.

I responded to my friend, “It’s still way too early to tell whether Sweden got it right or not. The Spanish Flu came in three waves as the virus mutated. Wave Two killed most people. COVID-19 is a new virus in human beings. Medical professionals are still working out what it’s like, how to respond to it, and so on. Rowan Dean is an advertising executive, not a medically trained person. He would do well to learn from history and delay his judgments. That’s, of course, if he wants to learn from history!”

Balance the Information

In the second part of the clip, Dean discussed hydroxychloroquine, which, he says, was used by Switzerland with significant effect against COVID-19, then banned because of a negative report in The Lancet medical journal. The Lancet later retracted the article, and Switzerland started using hydroxychloroquine again.

It should be appreciated that The Lancet retracted the article because they wanted to independently review the original research. But, because of client confidentiality, the researchers refused to share their data. For this reason, The Lancet retracted the article, not because the research was wrong.

Further research has been conducted. The Lancet has now republished the study adding, “Several arguments support the hypothesis that hydroxychloroquine, in addition to having no beneficial effect in hospitalised patients with COVID-19, might have potentially fatal cardiac effects.”

This week, The Lancet published another study which, to their knowledge, is “the largest ever analysis of the safety of hydroxychloroquine and hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin worldwide.”  Their conclusion: “Although long-term treatment with hydroxychloroquine is not expected for the management of COVID-19, some research suggests that the higher doses prescribed for COVID-19 than for rheumatoid arthritis can, even in the short term, lead to equivalent side-effects given the long half-life of hydroxychloroquine.” Those side-effects include increased risk of chest pain, angina, and heart failure. Armed with credible, evidence-based, peer-reviewed research, countries and states can make informed decisions whether or not to include this drug as part of the treatment for COVID-19.

To my previous message, my friend responded, “How about the hydroxy chloroquine [sic.] it has been unjustly vilified!” I replied, “I’m not medically trained. I don’t know if it’s been unjustly vilified or not. Donald Trump is not medically trained either, and I believe he has been irresponsible in his endorsement of this drug. I do know that one of the downsides of all this publicity is that hydroxychloroquine has become in very short supply. I recently saw an interview with a lady who has lupus, and she said she hasn’t been able to get her regular hydroxychloroquine prescription. What a tragedy. I wonder how many other people have been adversely affected? I am concerned that so many lies are being spread by so-called Christians. I think, “Thou shalt not lie” is still a commandment??”

A trap for people on the far-right is a propensity to fall for conspiracy theories. Conservative Christians often fall for these due to a belief in a coming one-world government and the antichrist. And so, COVID-19 becomes this evil plan instituted by a cabal to derail countries, a plot to destroy businesses, and remove freedoms. And “they” are trying to cover all this up. “They” know that hydroxychloroquine really works against “their” man-made virus, but “they” don’t want you to take it and get better. Not only that, Bill Gates already has the vaccine and wants to inject it into you along with a microchip so you can be tracked. To be clear, the technology to track people via vaccine microchip doesn’t yet exist. A chip would need to be injected (one that can send and receive information), a battery would have to be inserted too. What size of a hypodermic needle would you need for that? And how would Bill Gates co-opt every doctor, nurse, and medical professional around the world to buy into this scheme?

This kind of fear-mongering is not worthy of those who follow Jesus. We are called to be people of truth, not conspiracies and lies. I thank God for medical professionals who, out of their love for humanity, give their lives to health and healing. What we need is not guess-work from politicians or armchair “experts.” Your Google search is not research. It doesn’t compare to someone’s Master’s degree or Doctorate. And it doesn’t make you an expert!

In last week’s blog, “Should the church defy the Government?” I wrote the following: “It’s my opinion that the “evangelist” who wrote to me recently misses the point. It appears he’s bought into fear and conspiracies about a one-world government and an antichrist agenda. While these beliefs are widely held by many Christians today, they are based more on the Left Behind novels than on God’s Word. I’ll explore that in next week’s blog!” Well, here’s next week’s blog!

End-Time Predictions

When I became a Christian in the late 70s, end-time prophecy was all abuzz. Israel had become a nation in 1948, and according to a misinterpretation of Matthew 24:32-34, Jesus’ Second Coming would happen within one generation (40 years). That meant Jesus would be back by 1988. I thought I’d hit the jackpot becoming a Christian just in time. I devoured Revelation and Daniel, The Late Great Planet Earth, and all the prophecy books around. The planets would align on March 10, 1982, causing earthquakes, tidal waves, and violent storms that would lead to a natural disaster takeover by world governments. These events would see the rise of the antichrist and a one-world government, the Great Tribulation, and the return of Jesus. Nothing happened!

I have since learned that this is just one of many false prophecies of the end. Individuals and religious groups have been forecasting the end of the world for centuries. They really should give up. There’s no future in it!

In the forty years since my conversion, I’ve come to realise the interpretation of Scriptures relating to the antichrist, one-world government, and the rapture are often misunderstood or misinterpreted. The vast majority of evangelical and Pentecostal Christians hold beliefs about these things based more on the Left Behind books and movies than Scripture. That, my friends, is not a good way to study the Bible.

A Shaky Foundation

Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins wrote the 16 Left Behind books between 1995 and 2007 and sold 80 million copies. The books are based on a dispensationalist interpretation of Bible prophecy, a relatively modern invention developed in 1827 by John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren, and spread widely with the 1909 publication of the Scofield Reference Bible. Darby went on to be the founder of the Exclusive Brethren cult after George Mueller (and other Brethren) challenged him about some of his unbiblical doctrines. Charles Spurgeon also claimed these teachings were false. And so, much modern understanding of Bible prophecy originated from a heretical cult leader and popularised by books and movies. This is hardly a good foundation for understanding God’s Word!

Who is the Antichrist?

So, what about the antichrist and one-world government? Let’s explore antichrist first. There are four references to the antichrist in the Bible, and they are all found in John’s letters:

“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). John continues by explaining what he means by antichrist, “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). The antichrist(s) was already in the world of John’s day (1 John 4:3), and was not some figure who would appear two thousand years later. The antichrist was any person who did “not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 1:7).

1 John was written to encourage Christians who had been expelled from synagogues for their faith in Jesus; the Messiah. The synagogue was the heart of the community and so to be excluded was a terrible punishment. Because of this, some Christians had denied Jesus’ messiahship so they could be welcomed back by family and friends. John reminds Jesus’ followers that such people have left the church and “have gone out into the world.” By their actions and their words, they are antichristos (one who opposes Christ).

Anyone who opposes Christ is the antichrist. But these people have nothing to do with the Beast in Revelation 13 who is often, mistakenly, called the antichrist. The Beast is not a person – people rarely crawl out of the sea sporting seven heads with ten horns! The Beast is the Roman Empire, which, amongst other things, persecuted God’s people, especially during the reign of Nero. Nero Caesar’s name has a numeric value of 666. It could be said that any world system that stands opposed to, and persecutes, followers of Jesus is an antichrist system.

One-World Government

As for a one-world government and currency, the Bible is entirely silent. Sometimes Daniel’s prophecies, as well as some chapters in Revelation, are interpreted that way. These interpretations buy into Darby’s dispensationalism, which misinterprets Bible prophecy. In Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream. In this dream, God reveals the kingdoms that will follow Babylon – Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. These same four empires are also outlined in Daniel’s vision recorded in Daniel 7.

Dispensationalists insert a time gap (dispensation) between the fourth kingdom – Rome – and the end times before the Second Coming of Jesus. They say there will be a revived Roman Empire in the last days, and the antichrist will rise up to rule it. The European Common Market (now the European Economic Community or EEC) was said to be the Beast’s kingdom’s forerunner. As mentioned before, this is not sound Biblical interpretation.

Daniel 2 tells us, “in the time of those kings [of the fourth kingdom], the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (44). During the reign of the Roman Caesars, God would set up His eternal kingdom, the kingdom of God, or, of heaven. God did this through Jesus Christ who taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God is not a geographical location. It’s wherever God rules in the hearts of people. As this rule is extended, the world becomes a better place, and that’s precisely what we’ve been witnessing for two millennia. The world is better than it was, but not as good as it will be.

The Sign of the End

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Personally, I’m not looking for an antichrist, although there have been and will be many who oppose Jesus. I’m not waiting for a one-world government, a great tribulation, or a cashless society. There will continue to be wars and rumours of wars, famines, pandemics, and earthquakes. Christians, and people of other faiths, will face persecution. But the end won’t come until every ethnic group has an understandable presentation of the good news about Jesus. At that time, Jesus will return, and his people will gather to him.

“According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:15018).

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a guy who calls himself an Evangelist. He wanted to challenge me about Bayside Church, and other churches, closing down services during the Global Pandemic. He wrote:

What about God’s word “do not forsake the gathering together of the saints and do so more as the day draws nearer”!! We have already obeyed man over God and now discovered it’s all a lie to take. [sic.] Freedom from the people and increase fear and the control of the government to usher in one world order. Please challenge people to fight injustice and choose God Over man including church. Pastors should not have closed their church’s. So many people look to you ??? Don’t be a coward brother !! Set example Expose injustice and ungodly anti christ agenda

I get quite a few kooky messages, most of which I ignore, but I thought I’d address this one as it contains so many fallacies that are being spread around at present. Fortunately, in Australia “there appears to be little or no appetite to go against the various Public Health Orders in each state. Our largest churches such as Hillsong are meeting online, and church leaders have committed their networks to understand and follow the rules, seeking advice from Health Authorities where something is unclear.” (Quoted from Eternity Newspaper).   I believe the Australian church has got it right.

Meanwhile, in the USA

In the USA, there’s been a slightly different approach. Even though most churches have abided by government guidelines, a small, vocal group of pastors has “begun to bristle at government-imposed restrictions on their worship.” (Quoted from The Atlantic). 

Some have reopened; others have sued for their right to gather, claiming the restrictions are unconstitutional and a threat to religious freedom. A few others refused to shut down at all.

History Repeats

Sadly, much of this is history repeating itself. During the 1918-19 Spanish Flu Pandemic, many of the same measures were put into place that we’ve seen during COVID-19. Face masks, social distancing, personal hygiene, and closing of places of public gathering. While most people complied, some saw this as some sort of insidious agenda of State control and bucked the system. It was the second wave of the Spanish Flu that killed the most people. One thing we learn from history is that we rarely learn from history!

Churches that sue for their rights and their religious freedom do nothing to advance the good news of Jesus. The Gospel calls Jesus’ followers to “not [look] to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil 2:4).

The Spanish Flu wasn’t a threat to religious freedom, it was a threat to public health. COVID-19 is the same. After 1919, churches and other public gathering places were reopened once again, and the world moved into The Roaring Twenties. Closures, wearing masks, and social distancing were temporary measures aimed at bringing communities through a health crisis with as few casualties as possible. Same today!

Some churches bristle because they are not deemed “an essential service” like liquor stores! As a Christian and a pastor, I think the church is essential, but I know I stand with the minority. The closure of church gatherings is not about being essential. It’s about restricting the congregating of people and the spreading of a very contagious virus. Whatever you think of liquor stores, people don’t congregate there.

Church at Walmart

In the US, a church group recently decided to resist the trend and have a service at a Walmart pharmacy to protest that pharmacies were open but churches were closed:

The singing of my African American brothers and sisters is stunning, and I hope no one was infected with COVID-19. Only time will tell. It should be remembered, though, that when people sing (or talk loudly like preaching), they spray out a shower of secretions. According to fluid physics expert Professor Con Doolan, these aerosol particles remain suspended in the air, potentially spreading coronavirus. If you’re standing too close to an infected person when they cough or sing, you could breathe in the particles they have projected into the air (see article). 

And so, while I see so many people cheering on this church, if their actions cause sickness and death are they really singing God’s praises? Would God be pleased or saddened by the behaviour of his children?

Other churches who defied the US Government faced significant backlash from neighbours. One woman stood outside a church and held up a sign that read, “you killed my grandma.” Is this the testimony of the Gospel the church wants to communicate to a world that God loves and for whom Jesus died?

Listening to God not Man

The most well-known church to defy the government is John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in California. 

Their statement is convincing on the first read with lots of scripture verses to enforce their argument.

Itt’s important to remember that the church is not being restricted by Government unnecessarily. For example, no one is telling churches and Christians not to preach the Gospel as the authorities did to Peter and John: “So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.”

If the Government ever banned us from speaking and teaching about Jesus, I would respond in the same way the apostles did: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than God.”

This not the case today even though Grace Community Church says it is. All churches can preach about Jesus and teach God’s Word. There are no restrictions placed on us in this regard.

So, that’s what we’re doing at Bayside Church, and we’re seeing people come to Jesus and grow in their faith. We’re helping the underprivileged with groceries and cooked food. Church members are keeping in touch with one another and serving one another. The church is alive, healthy, and vibrant.

It’s my opinion that the “evangelist” who wrote to me recently is missing the point. It appears he’s bought into fear and conspiracies about a one-world government and an antichrist agenda. While these beliefs are widely held by many Christians today, they are based more on the Left Behind novels than on God’s Word. I’ll explore that in next week’s blog!

The Near Future

Once this current crisis is over, restrictions will be eased, and small gatherings will once again be safe. Before the resurgence of COVID-19 in Melbourne, Bayside Church was about to restart gatherings of up to 50 people. Many of our Connect Groups were already meeting in-person, and we were looking at doing some meetings outdoors with more significant numbers. If the current restrictions work, we should get back to that in a few weeks.

While church buildings are an incredible asset, we need to remember that the church is people, not buildings. I appreciate the excellent facility that Bayside Church works from and gathers in, but it’s important to remember that the church did very well for the first three centuries with no building at all.

During this pandemic, Christians are blessed with technology that helps us stay in touch with one another. While this ultimately is no substitute for in-person meetings, it’s better than nothing.

During the Spanish Flu pandemic, some pastors wrote letters and Bible studies for their congregations and posted them in letterboxes. Today we meet on Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom. I’ve had Bayside Church people tell me they have never felt so connected with Christie and me and with their church.

The building may be closed, but the church is open!

Why bother to pray? I mean, God knows everything, right? He knows what we need and want and don’t need. So, I ask again as many people do, why bother to pray?

I understand the intent behind the question, but it comes from a misunderstanding of the purpose of prayer. When I was a young Christian, I tried to pray for an hour a day. It became a pretty boring ritual as every day I sat with my shopping list to beg and plead with God to answer. After all, Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” If Jesus said it, I believe it, and that settles it. Not so fast.

Our ‘Shopping’ List

I call this “shopping list prayer” because it is merely a list of things we want. Now that may work at a supermarket, but it’s a poor thing to use in a relationship. Imagine if that was how I treated Christie. Do you manage your meaningful relationships in that way? If so, they won’t be meaningful for long. And that’s what I found as a brand-new Christian. My prayers seemed to hit the ceiling and bounce back down to me. There was no sense of God’s presence or assurance in my heart that God was listening and would answer.

Forty years later, my prayer life looks very different. It’s more spontaneous and less controlled. I no longer have a shopping (prayer) list. I talk a lot less, in fact, sometimes I don’t speak at all. My prayers are relational and not transactional. In other words, my prayer life reflects what you would expect to find in any healthy relationship. And that’s the point. “Why bother to pray” is a question that reflects an unhealthy relationship with God. God knows what I need, so why do I have to ask? Why doesn’t he give me what I need and want and save us both a lot of time? Why waste time pleading when he already knows?

Be Spontaneous

Spontaneity is a sign of a healthy relationship. After all, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth! Rather than having a fixed time, I find myself praying throughout the day. I don’t pray for a long time, but I never go for long without prayer. Prayer is a lifestyle. The apostle Paul put it this way, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

It’s Okay to Have Silence

Prayer is consistent two-way communication with God, and sometimes that connection is silent. Have you had the experience of being with someone you don’t know very well and felt pressured to keep the conversation going? It’s tough work, especially if the other person gives one-word answers to your questions. After an exhausting few minutes, you fall into an uncomfortable silence during which you rack your brain to think of something else to say. Contrast that with the comfortable silence of being with a close friend. Conversation flows but, if it ends, it’s not a problem. You’re happy to sit, walk, or drive without anyone saying anything. The relationship is mature. I’ve found comfortable silence is terrific with God. We’re enjoying each other’s presence without uttering a word or making a demand.

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

Sometimes Jesus prayed all night. Based on his teaching on short prayers, this means that Jesus must have included a lot of comfortable silence with his Father. Kenneth E. Bailey, in his stunning book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, says, “Prayer for Jesus include(d) long periods of Spirit-filled silent communion with God that was beyond the need for words” (P. 92). He goes on to quote Isaac the Syrian (seventh century) who wrote about “stillness” as “a deliberate denial of the gift of words for the sake of achieving inner silence, in the midst of which a person can hear the presence of God. It is standing unceasingly, silent, and prayerfully before God.” God is as close to you as the air you breathe.

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, he gave them some sound advice: “do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them.” Let your words be few. Not only did Pagan prayers take a long time to get to the point, they were also contractual. They would remind the deity of favours done or sacrifices offered: I’ve done this for you, and now you do this for me. Sound familiar? God, if you’ll answer my prayer, I promise I will : go to church more, start tithing, read the Bible every day. Or maybe your prayers have slipped into resentment of “all the things I’ve done for you, God,” and now “you owe me.” If that’s the case, you’re sounding like the older brother in the prodigal son story.

Prayers like this are built on the wrong assumption that I need to get God to do what I want Him to do. And I’m going to do that by talking more, talking louder, shouting, talking in tongues, talking more in tongues. I’m going to twist God’s arm or MOVE God (which is pretty hard). Real prayer is more about Him moving me in line with God’s will and purpose than moving God to align with my will. We pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Real prayer is about relationship, communication & intimacy. It’s not a business partnership.

Diversity of Prayer

There are over 650 prayers in the Bible, and most of them are very short (the longest is Jesus’ prayer in John 17, which takes about 3 minutes to read). The shortest prayer in the Bible was uttered by Peter, “Lord, save me” – not an unsuitable prayer from a drowning man! Jesus gave his followers a 15-second prayer. We call it The Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to come to God out of the relationship between Father and child. Jesus has given his Father to be our Father. Whether you’re praying on your own or with others, relax and enjoy the relationship you have as one adopted into God’s family.

Times of crisis, including Pandemics, always see a rise in conspiracy theories. And so, what we’re witnessing now is nothing new.

Consider the yellow fever outbreak in the USA in the late 1700s. We now know that Yellow Fever is a mosquito-borne virus probably carried to the US from Africa via the slave trade. But at the time, all sorts of theories were circulated. Some said it came from the vapour of rotting vegetables or the ash of a volcanic eruption in Sicily. It wasn’t until 1901 when Army physician Walter Reed demonstrated that yellow fever came from a mosquito bite, and a vaccine did not appear until 1937.

Blame the Illuminati

When medical science can’t immediately provide all the answers, some people will make up their own. In the late 1700s, conspiracies abounded about a secret Cabal named, The Illuminati, which was behind the pandemic.

Now, an actual group called the Illuminati was founded in Bavaria on May 1, 1776. They were not dedicated to global domination. Its purpose was to discuss what was at the time dangerously radical ideas (secularism and women’s rights). Carl Theodore, the Duke of Bavaria, banned the group in the summer of 1784, and three years later, the society was no more. That should have been the end of it, but sadly that’s not the case.

Historical Hysterics

In 1890, the New York Herald European edition ran an item suggesting that the electric light was somehow responsible for a global influenza outbreak.

The 1918 flu pandemic was blamed on German Submarines. In the 14th Century, the Bubonic plague was blamed on the Jews, acting on behalf of the Muslim prince of Grenada, who had bribed the lepers to contaminate public fountains and wells to kill the Christians.

Fast forward to 2020, and we’re inundated with fake news and conspiracies about the Deep State, 5G, vaccines, and face masks.

Fake News

In March, Facebook rated as false more than forty million posts about the pandemic. Many of these posts are shared countless times by well-meaning people who don’t take the time to check their facts. I’ve been inundated with these during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider the following conspiracies that are all incorrect:

  • The virus emerged from a secret laboratory outside Wuhan, China.
  • The coronavirus vaccine already exists and is being withheld.
  • Bill Gates is out to plant a chip in people using the vaccine.
  • The swab test for COVID-19 plants a chip in the roof of the nasal cavity.
  • The United States government created the virus.
  • The metal wire in some face masks is really a 5G antenna.
  • Directives to wear face masks are illegal, and the fines are also unlawful.
  • Businesses refusing cash are part of the push towards a cashless society and one-world government.
  • Forbidding churches to meet is a sign of targeted suppression of the church.
  • The introduction of 5G broadband and radiation from cell towers equipped with 5G technology is the real culprit.
  • Plus, the virus doesn’t exist, it’s harmless, it’s an excuse to limit our freedom; it’s being used for population control to stop global warming (which doesn’t exist either).

These and other statements that are circulated on social media as facts are simply wrong. What’s needed is wisdom, caution, and diligence. Christian people should be leading in the spreading of truth rather than dissemination of conspiracy rubbish.

Check the Facts

Rather than blindly believing and sharing, take time to do due diligence. Make use of fact-checking organisations like PolitiFact, Snopes, Media Bias/Fact check, and others. And be aware of what kind of website you’re gleaning information from. I’ve seen people quote The Babylon Bee, The Borowitz Report, or Weekly World News to prove a point. These are satirical sites that deliberately produce tongue-in-cheek articles. They use parody, mockery, or sarcasm and are not meant to be taken literally.

You Shall Not Lie

After all, what is a conspiracy theory but a lie? It comprehensively and grievously violates the Ninth Commandment. “You shall not bear false witness,” a command that forbids “Speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbour.”

A conspiracy theorist bears false witness against his neighbours — against his fellow citizens. He accuses them of grievous sins, he destroys their good name and can even incite violence. Christians should be above such things but sadly are often the ones who are deceived by them and broadcast them to others.

Mandatory Masks

I’ll finish with a comment on wearing face masks. In Victoria, mask-wearing is now mandatory (from 11.59pm Wednesday, July 22). The wearing of masks has been heavily politicised in the USA. In Australia, I’ve already seen (even Christian) people react to this mandate from the State government: “Directives to wear face masks are illegal, and the fines are also illegal,” wrote a Christian evangelist on Facebook this week. This is simply wrong. Making masks mandatory is not against the law. Under Australian law, private landowners or occupiers can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees, and people on their property. So, it is legal for businesses – including cafes and supermarkets – to make it a condition of entry that customers wear a mask and sanitise their hands.

This law is similar to the ones that mandate wearing a seatbelt when in a vehicle, having appropriate clothing before admittance to some venues, or the “No hat no play” rule in schools. Wearing masks is a directive of the Chief Medical Officer and needs to be followed. Failure to comply can lead to a fine. There’s nothing illegal about it. It’s for your good and the good of others.

While some people will be exempt from wearing a mask for medical reasons, most people will need to wear one. It’s a small, temporary inconvenience that can save lives and slow the spread of this virus.

Christians need to lead the way, loving their neighbour as themselves. Please, don’t mistake the inconvenience for oppression. And PLEASE stop buying into and spreading lies.