CoVid-19 Vaccines. One of the most talked-about topics today. So many questions and differing opinions, seemingly contradicting and confusing messages can leave us feeling confused, torn, and anxious.

The internet is flooded with misinformation concerning SARS-CoV-2, CoVid-19 vaccines, and health advice, increasing fear, confusion, division, and strained mental health. It is hard to differentiate between which ‘medical experts’ to listen to and which ones to disregard. Who is telling the truth? It can be confusing as to where to start to ‘research’ our questions. I hope this blog helps.

Earlier this year, I published a blog, Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Since then, many new questions have surfaced. And so, once again, my immunologist friend [1] has been busy researching some answers.  In writing this blog, I have also had guidance from a GP / specialist.

Why have a vaccine if I can develop immunity naturally?

This question comes from an underlying misunderstanding of how our immune systems work. There are two sides to your immune system 1. Innate Immunity 2. Adaptive immunity. The adaptive immune system is the side that we activate through a vaccine to produce antibodies that can combat CoVid-19. These antibodies can’t be created or boosted ‘naturally’ without coming into contact with the virus itself, as antibodies are distinct.

Also, your immune system does not differentiate between naturally catching the virus or the ‘synthetic’ vaccine – it just recognises both as foreign bodies or antigens. Simply put, to build immunity to CoVid-19, you either get the virus naturally or get a vaccine. The risks of catching CoVid-19, its unknown long-term effects, hospitalisation and death rates versus the low risks associated with having a vaccine and the benefits of herd immunity need to be carefully weighed.

Before reading further, I recommend watching this short clip explaining how the immune system works.

Have these vaccines been tested properly? It seems like they’ve been rushed.

The CoVid-19 vaccines have been developed quickly, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been adequately tested. Most vaccines take a while to get passed, but that is usually due to a lack of funding, scarce resources and political red tape. The CoVid-19 vaccines had millions of dollars and resources injected into them due to the severe nature of the virus – the entire world was working around the clock and was invested in developing these vaccines. At the same time, thousands of people lined up to volunteer for clinical trials. These factors contributed to the speed of vaccine production.

These vaccines have been through the same trials and processes as other vaccines and the same stringent approval process by the same regulating bodies (e.g. FDA in the US and TGA in Australia). Essentially, it was the bureaucratic processes that were sped up, not the vaccine safety testing.

The mRNA vaccine technology is new. How can we trust it?

The mRNA vaccine technology has been in development for over 30 years. These vaccines have gone through all the proper testings and trials and have proven safe and effective by the same standards as other vaccines.

While the mRNA vaccine technology has been in development for a long time, it hasn’t been until now that the finances and resources were available to push into this ground-breaking area.

Are all the vaccines currently available in Australia the same?

No. Different vaccines use varied technologies. For example, the MMR vaccine uses ‘live attenuated’ organisms to produce an immune response without making the host sick. The polio vaccine uses the ‘inactivated’ virus, while other vaccines use fractions or deactivated toxins.

The three CoVid-19 vaccines that are currently available in Australia are Comirnaty (Pfizer), Spikevax (Moderna) and Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca). Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology, while AstraZeneca utilises a virus vector. A fourth vaccine, Novavax, a protein-based vaccine, is currently being considered for use in Australia. All of these vaccines are designed to produce an immune response against the protein spike on the CoVid-19 virus.

What are the known side effects of the CoVid-19 vaccines?

Like all medications and vaccines, the CoVid-19 vaccines have a list of common mild side effects including redness and soreness at the injection site, mild body aches and tiredness. Although many people reported little to no side effects, most of these mild symptoms clear up within a couple of days. The complete list of side effects is published on the Australian Department Health website.

There have been reports of more severe side effects from these vaccines. Some of these are so rare that they weren’t picked up during clinical trials. These include Myocarditis, pericarditis and Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), or pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart), occurring with Pfizer and Moderna. The risk is 1 in 30,000, with men under 30 more susceptible. This side effect can be serious but is usually easily treatable with a quick recovery.

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is blood clotting and is linked to AstraZeneca. This condition is so rare that it didn’t show up in the clinical trials. The risk of death is 1 in 1 million. Here is a list of higher risks:

  • Risk of death from general anaesthetic is 18 in a million
  • Risk of being struck by lightning is 2 in a million
  • Risk of death due to daily aspirin is 100 in a million
  • Risk of death from giving birth is 67 in a million

An interesting article from the ABC suggests that the mortality rate has decreased due to higher awareness of this condition enabling doctors to identify the symptoms and intervene. There are effective treatments available for TTS. 

There have been reports that over 500 people have died in Australia from the vaccines. Shouldn’t we be worried?

The ‘reported’ number of over 500 deaths ‘linked to CoVid-19 vaccinations’ through the Australian TGA website is an inaccurate statistic. The true number is NINE deaths. While we don’t want to minimise any fatalities, we need to acknowledge that correlation does not necessarily equal causation when it comes to fatalities and vaccinations. The reasons for this are explained below.

As of October 14 2021, the true number of confirmed deaths from CoVid-19 vaccination in Australia is nine with over 31,994,741 doses administered.

Where did the ‘500+ reported deaths’ come from then?

Side effects associated with any vaccine or medication can be reported to the TGA. A similar reporting system in the US called ‘VAERS’ acknowledges that their reporting system is not ‘regulated’ regarding who can and can’t report side effects, with all side effects listed publicly.

It means that anyone can report anything, and it will be listed. With people ‘trolling’ the sites there are all sorts of nonsensical listings such as ‘being bitten by animals’, ‘boredom’, ‘gonorrhoea’ and ‘becoming elderly’. Sites such as VAERS and the TGA take all reports seriously, and medical professionals investigate each death in Australia as to whether the vaccine directly caused it.

There would be no doubt that over 500 people died within a couple of days or even weeks after receiving a CoVid-19 vaccine. With over 30 million doses administered to date, we would expect more than 500 people to have died from other causes (some even naturally) close to the time of their vaccination. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the vaccine caused their death.

An equivalent example is this: 50,000 people went out on the same night and ate similar ice cream. Ten people died within the next two days. Can we conclude that ice cream kills people? What is more likely is that those ten people died of other causes at a frequency not above what we would ‘normally’ see. The point is this: correlation does not equal causation. We need to be careful with interpreting data and mindful of misinformation that is circulating on social media. When taken out of context, these inflated figures can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.

How do we know what the long-term effects of the CoVid-19 vaccines are?

Scientists and medical professionals have a pretty good understanding of the long-term effects of these vaccines.

Vaccines, unlike ongoing medication, are not stored up in the body as you are taking a tiny dose (usually only once or twice). The purpose of a vaccine is to produce an immune response, then for the vaccine to disappear from the body. This process of being cleared from your body usually takes between 3-7 days. After that, there is no trace of the vaccine.

Vaccine technology has been around for decades, and modern medicine has developed in leaps and bounds. Scientists have an excellent understanding of the long-term side effects because all of the ingredients are well known to science. This means that scientists and medical experts already know how these ingredients behave and work in the human body.

Although you can never entirely rule out long term effects, with over 6.6 billion (2) doses of CoVid-19 vaccinations administered across the globe over the last year, scientists and medical experts have a good understanding of the side effects to date.

Can the vaccine cause infertility?

I saw a viral video of two men claiming that a Japanese paper running clinical trials on mice using the mRNA vaccine showed a build-up of the vaccine in the ovaries. They concluded that CoVid-19 vaccines, therefore, interfere with fertility. It was disappointing to watch as it was another example of the inappropriate interpretation of scientific data).

Studies have found no evidence to suggest that the vaccines cause infertility. All the studies and data SUPPORT the safety of women being vaccinated DURING pregnancy. We need to keep in mind that Australia is at least six months behind the rest of the world regarding vaccinations. This gives us a unique position to have a front-row seat. People have now been vaccinated for over a year, which means that hundreds of thousands of women (dare we say millions!) from all over the world have fallen pregnant and given birth with no indication of fertility issues. The only data scientists have that suggests any fertility issues is in fact in men who catch CoVid-19 naturally. Studies have shown a reduction in sperm count and an increase in impotence issues caused by the virus’s effects on blood vessels.

The Royal Australian & NZ College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) recently ran a ‘Pregnancy and CoVid-19 vaccination’ webinar and stated clearly that the CoVid vaccines DO NOT impact on fertility.

People who are fully vaccinated are still catching CoVid-19. Does this mean the vaccines don’t work?

The vaccines don’t stop you from catching the virus altogether, although they do reduce your risk. A new study has suggested that within the first three months of a person’s second Pfizer vaccination, they are between 70-90% less likely to catch and transmit the virus. The primary role of the CoVid-19 vaccine is to significantly reduce the risk of severe infection and hospitalisation.

Currently, the strategy of both the NSW and the VIC governments is to vaccinate as many people as possible to minimise serious disease and not overrun the health system. If our health systems are overwhelmed, then all other medical emergencies (Heart attack, stroke, accidents, & surgery) will not get the care they need.

Why does getting vaccinated matter? Does an unvaccinated person put others at risk?

A reliable pre-print study from the UK suggests that the vaccines are better at preventing the spread of CoVid-19 than we first thought. Getting the vaccine isn’t just about protecting yourself. It is about reducing your risk of spreading it to others. There a many people in our community who cannot have the vaccine. They may be ineligible (babies and children) or unable to be vaccinated due to a medical condition. In making the decision to be vaccinated you are protecting these members of our community who are most vulnerable.

Quickfire myths:

Do we even know what is in the vaccines?

Yes, we do. Click here for the full list of ingredients.

Does the vaccine contain Graphene Oxide?

No, Graphene oxide is not listed in the ingredients. No, they didn’t miss it off the list ‘on purpose’. How do we know? For starters, the vaccines are the wrong colour. Graphene oxide is dark brown, the vaccines are clear. You would be able to tell very quickly if graphene oxide was present.

Do people become magnetic after having the vaccine?

No. There is nothing present in the vaccine which could make a person become magnetic.

Do the statistics show that half the new cases of CoVid-19 are vaccinated people? Does that mean they don’t work?

The statistics may show that a significant portion of people catching CoVid-19 is vaccinated. Simply saying ‘half the CoVid-19 cases are vaccinated, so the vaccines don’t work’ is incorrect and is called a baseline fallacy. What we have to consider when interpreting these statistics is the denominator.

For example, if we wanted an accurate understanding of how many people from each group (the vaccinated or unvaccinated) were catching CoVid-19, we couldn’t simply say ‘50%’ of each. If 50% of cases were vaccinated yet still developed CoVid-19, we need to consider the denominator or size of each group from which those figures came.

Let’s do some maths: If Victoria has 80% double dose vaccination, that would mean around 5,360,000 people in the ‘vaccinated group’ (based on a population of 6.7mil). That leaves 1,340,000 in the unvaccinated group. Let’s say that 100,000 people got CoVid-19, and 50% were vaccinated. That would mean that 50,000 out of 5,360,000 or 0.93% of the vaccinated group. The other 50% (also 50,000) has a denominator of 1,340,000. That is 3.73% of the unvaccinated group. You can see how these statistics tell a dramatically different story when placed in context – this isn’t an ‘equal’ statistic. The most important data, however, is the data concerning hospitalisation and death. The vaccine significantly reduces your chance of severe infection, hospitalisation, ICU admission, and death.

The people who are dying and in hospital from CoVid-19 are vaccinated.

Incorrect. This is misinformation spread through viral videos which show ‘bloopers’ or slip-ups during Victorian press conferences, which were later addressed and rectified.

Big Pharma wants to take your money!

Yes, they do, just like any business. But the medical industry would make more money off you NOT having the vaccine. Your hospital bills and treatment would make them more money. Let’s also keep in mind that the government is currently freely providing this vaccine.

Will we need booster shots every year?

It’s not uncommon to need booster shots for ongoing immunity. Vaccines such as tetanus require a booster every ten years. We also have three doses of vaccines such as hepatitis and the human papillomavirus (HPV). Scientists are hopeful that only two or possibly three (which we call a ‘booster shot’) doses provide long-term immunity for CoVid-19.

Won’t the booster shots damage my immune system?

No. Your immune system is combating foreign bodies it encounters every day. It is a great and robust defence mechanism. We may need a ‘new’ vaccine if mutations of CoVid-19 begin to arise, which are no longer covered by the immune response triggered by the current vaccines. We see this occur with the yearly flu vaccine. At this stage, the current vaccines protect against all of the CoVid-19 variants pretty effectively. We need to keep in mind that this pandemic is not static, and science needs to pivot as the CoVid-19 situation evolves.

If I have already had CoVid-19 why would I need the vaccine? Don’t I already have antibodies?

It’s suggested that some countries and cities internationally have accepted proof of ‘recent’ CoVid-19 infection as the same status as ‘vaccination’. While it is true that a recent CoVid-19 infection produces antibodies, recent studies have shown that an additional follow up vaccine produces an even stronger and longer-lasting immune response. We need to keep in mind that each person’s immune system is complex, and not everyone will have the same immune response. Current data suggest that vaccines are the most consistent form of immunity.

Reputable people to follow on online platforms:

It can be confusing as to where to get quick and easy access to reliable information online. Below I have suggested a few reputable sources and people you can follow and engage with online.

The ABC do a daily ‘CoronaCast’ 10min update where the presenters talk about the latest scientific developments, citing peer-reviewed journal articles and the most up to date and reliable information.

TikTok: Although this platform can be unhelpful in many ways, the following people are quick to debunk misinformation and viral videos when they arise:

  • @scitimewithtracy (Dr Tracy has a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology). Tracy has some excellent links and peer-reviewed journal articles listed in her
  • Dr Kat Wallace Epidemiologist
  • Dr Sara Marzouk on Facebook

Disclaimer: This blog doesn’t provide medical advice. I recommend talking to your trusted GP. The science around CoVid-19 moves fast. All of the information was up to date at the time of writing.

Helpful Resources

A short online course from Johns Hopkins University will take you through the overview of the CoVid-19 Pandemic including information on the medical therapies, vaccines in development, epidemiology and the spread of CoVid-19.

More information on the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccines.

Below are the fact sheets for each of the available vaccines in Australia:

Comirnaty (Pfizer)

Vaxzevira (AstraZeneca)

Spikevax (Moderna)

[1] She has a Bachelor of Science from Monash University (double major in Immunology/Molecular and Microbiology and a minor in Genetics). She does not currently work in this field.


A couple of weeks ago, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

I’d like to gauge how people are feeling about the possible use of Vaccine certificates for entry into certain places and venues as we begin to open up from lockdown restrictions. Select the number below that most accurately expresses how you resonate with the following statement…

“As we move into the next phase of living with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, proof of vaccination is very important to keep people as safe as possible from the COVID-19 illness this virus causes.”

    • Strongly agree
    • Agree
    • Disagree
    • Strongly disagree
    • Unsure
    • Don’t care

You may include ONE sentence of explanation if you feel it’s necessary. But please, no commentary, no arguments, and NO links to videos or articles. The post received almost 400 comments. Most people followed the rules. Some people can’t help themselves. Here are the results (Response numbers in brackets):

    • Strongly agree (122)
    • Agree (54)
    • Disagree (15)
    • Strongly disagree (88)
    • Unsure (14)
    • Don’t care (3)

Worth Noting

Several things stand out from these responses. Firstly, vaccine passports are an extremely divisive issue. The overwhelming majority of people are in favour of some proof of vaccination. Most people with medical training voted number 1.

Also, I don’t assume that everyone who is against proof of vaccination is anti-vax. I acknowledge those of you who are not yet vaccinated or are vaccine-hesitant. Some people are pro-vaccination but have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines. Others have trypanophobia, a fear of needles. I reference anti-vaxxers once in this blog. In that comment I mean people who are completely against all vaccines in every circumstance.

This blog is not about ridiculing anyone. I respect where you’re at right now and affirm your freedom of choice. For Christians, let our unity and love for one another focus on Jesus and not our opinion of the pandemic, politics, or vaccines.

Where I Stand

I resonate most strongly with number 2. As we move into the next phase of the pandemic, living with COVID-19, I believe it will be vital to have some proof of vaccination for entry into any place where a crowd will gather. The thought behind electing “2” rather than “1” is my concern around implementation and a divided community. Governments must not be heavy-handed in the execution of this, and as much personal liberty as possible must be preserved except where it impinges on the right of others to be safe. Business owners, and church leaders, should not be made to be security guards. And any vaccine passport should be implemented for the shortest time necessary.

Ultimately, my concern is for people and especially the most vulnerable in the community. I believe everyone who wants to be vaccinated should have that opportunity BEFORE we fully open up. A medical exemption for those who cannot be vaccinated has already been referred to medical experts to facilitate. I’m also hoping that a negative PCR test, or proof of recovery from COVID-19, will be an option for those who are not yet vaccinated, whatever their reason may be. Privacy of personal information must also be a high priority.

Paul’s words to the Philippian church should ring loud in our hearts, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:3-5). I encourage you to use these verses as your filter and guide.

There’s no doubt that the next few months will be the most challenging of the pandemic. In one sense, it’s easy to shut things down. Opening up, well, that’s much more problematic. Striking a balance between bringing life back to normal, whatever that looks like, and keeping people as safe as possible, is no mean feat. Please be prayerful for our State and Federal government leaders at this time. They all need great wisdom.

Vaccination Passports are Not New

By definition, a vaccine passport is quite literally just an immunisation record — a document that notes whether someone is protected against a particular disease.

In 2007, I was teaching at a pastors’ conference in Uganda. Afterwards, I flew back to Jo’burg. Arriving at the airport, I realised I’d left my vaccine certificate in the desk drawer of my home office. I did my very best to explain this at customs. The person I spoke with was kind, understanding, and insistent. I had three choices:

    • Stay on the wrong side of the airport
    • Fly back to Uganda
    • Have the Yellow Fever jab

Even though I was fully vaccinated, I had no proof. So, I rolled up my sleeve and had another one, after which I was given my vaccine passport and allowed entry to South Africa.

Before 1973, travellers had to carry an International Certificate of Cholera Vaccination. Until May 8, 1980, travellers needed proof of smallpox vaccination. No jab, no travel. One person who commented on my post said, “when I travelled overseas to the [Middle East], 40years ago, we had to carry proof we were vaccinated against cholera, typhoid, smallpox, polio, etc. No one thought their rights were being violated back then.”

From 1 January 2018, Children who have not been immunised due to their parent’s vaccine conscientious objection cannot be enrolled in childcare.

A Little History

An Italian health pass (fede di sanità) for travel during times of plague, 1722

In Bible times, people with leprosy had to show themselves ‘clean’ before re-entering the community and restart everyday living. Until then, they’d shout out “unclean” to warn people nearby to keep their distance.

With the advent of the first vaccine in 1796, it wasn’t long until some proof of vaccination was required. The initial evidence was the scar left on the arm of people who had the smallpox inoculation. During the smallpox epidemic in the United States (1885), the hardest-hit states made vaccination compulsory with “official certificates of vaccination” required for people to “go to work, attend public school, ride trains or even go to the theatre.”

The need for vaccine passports increased with the arrival of air travel because of how much faster local smallpox outbreaks could occur. So, before people could board planes, they had to undergo vaccine certificate checks “with forcible isolation at airports of any passengers considered to have dubious documentation.”

Some Americans resisted these public health measures. The predecessors of today’s anti-vaxxers questioned the vaccine’s effectiveness or falsely claimed that it caused smallpox or other side effects. One writer dramatically claimed in 1923 that “A scar from forced vaccination is a brand, a mark of medical tyranny and despotism.” Some preachers regarded a vaccination scar as the “mark of the beast” referenced in the Bible’s Book of Revelation. It seems little has changed!

What About Freedom?

Much of the current narrative revolves around freedom, and I agree, human free will is an incredible gift from God. But freedom doesn’t mean that we can do as we choose in every instance. Just ask Adam & Eve! There are real-life consequences for the choices we make.

We already accept various requirements in numerous situations. There are compulsory requirements, such as voting or wearing seat belts, and conditional requirements. For example, if you want to go on a mine site, you have to wear a hard hat and a high vis jacket. In other words, if you’re going to do (A), then here’s the minimum you need to do (B). It has nothing to do with personal beliefs. You could say that “Jesus is my protection” and “I’m shielded by Psalm 91.” You can believe anything you want, but you still need to wear a hard hat!

In a global pandemic, the exercise of your freedom NOT to be vaccinated will activate the liberty of others NOT to admit you, NOT to permit you to fly, NOT to allow you to work near others. All of this is because OTHER people have freedom too. Freedom to choose belongs to all, as does the responsibility to face the outcomes of your free choices.

No one is being “compelled” to be vaccinated. It is “optional but conditional.” You can choose not to vaccinate but then face the consequences of how others react to your choice. Participation in certain activities is forfeited for a short period as the community adjusts to living with SARS-CoV-2, just like a visa is denied unless specific requirements are met. It’s called “considerate regulation to minimize risk.”

Living with COVID-19

Society needs to open up as safely as possible. That will include a season, maybe six months, where proof of vaccination is required for entrance into cinemas, swimming pools, museums, spas, indoor restaurant dining, theatres, pubs, clubs, and sporting venues. Tourism and travel need to reopen too. Being stuck in lockdown has taken an enormous toll on these industries, not to mention the impact of restrictions on people’s mental health. We cannot stay locked down forever, but we must open up carefully.

Even if Australia doesn’t introduce vaccine passports or the equivalent, it appears highly likely that Aussies will be impacted as they travel. For example, France bans unvaccinated U.S. tourists. The European country is the latest to tighten restrictions for American travellers. Israel has followed suit. The bottom line? If you want to travel, you’ll need to be vaccinated and be able to prove it.

Medical Apartheid?

Several people mentioned their concern about an ‘us versus them’ society. I find it interesting that it is Christian people saying this. The whole premise of evangelicalism is a separation of ‘us’ and them,’ ‘in’ and ‘out,’ and ‘saved’ and ‘lost.’ John Calvin, in his Institutes divides the human race into “the elect” (chosen) and “the reprobate” (damned).

The Bible speaks of sheep and goats, wheat and weeds, and the book of life and those scratched out. But we feel concerned when it’s us who are excluded! No one likes to be left out.

The term “Medical Apartheid” is highly offensive, especially to people who lived through and were impacted by apartheid in South Africa. The book Medical Apartheid “traces the complex history of medical experimentation on Black Americans in the United States since the middle of the eighteenth century.”  Comparing these atrocities to the public health measures during the current pandemic is highly offensive.

What About Church?

Firstly, if you are part of Bayside Church, Christie and I will communicate privately with you via email. We are still sifting through the detail, but here’s what we know so far:

70% fully vaccinated (26/10): Outdoor gatherings with 50 fully vaccinated people (or 20 of unknown vaccination status).

80% fully vaccinated (5/11): Indoor meetings with 150 fully vaccinated people (or 20 of unknown vaccination status outdoors)

When the Services Victoria app is updated, it will contain your vaccination info when you sign in with the QR code.

I’ve asked our Bayside Church COVID Safe Team to follow up on two questions:

    • What about people who have recovered from COVID and carry natural immunity? Antibodies stay for at least 6-8 months, which provide protective measures against reinfection.
    • Is there any provision for people to prove they are negative 48 hours from receiving a COVID test? Can they be allowed at a gathering?

Rest assured, Christie and I, and the leaders and pastors of Bayside Church will do all we can to protect and accommodate everyone in our church community. I would expect nothing less from any other church.

Concluding Thoughts

The main issue, as we begin to open up, is to prevent hospitals from becoming overloaded. Vaccinations will reduce the number of people in hospitals. If only vaccinated people could gather in large groups, then hopefully, an outbreak in this group would be less severe. But we need to ensure life is possible for everyone. People who are recovering from COVID can’t get vaccinated, and some people react to the vaccine, so the answer is not simple.

I believe Denmark sets a fine example. Vaccine passports have allowed the Danish people to live a semi-normal life until 80% of 12+ people were vaccinated. Having arrived at that point, they have discarded the passports altogether.

Armed with their pass, people could get a haircut, have a drink with friends or attend a cultural event. “It was getting one’s freedom back instead of having to sit at home in isolation.”

Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said, “the epidemic is under control” but warned: “We are not out of the epidemic,” and the government will act as needed if necessary. A majority in the age group of 50+ had the two shots. The face mask is still mandatory at airports, and people are advised to wear one at the doctor’s, test centres, or hospitals. Physical distancing applies, as do strict entry restrictions for non-Danes at the borders. The outbreak is “an ordinary dangerous illness.”

In Australia, Proof of Vaccination is an interim measure to be utilised as a tool to assist the country in reopening as safely as possible. Once that is achieved, the vaccine passports (or whatever they’re called) will no longer be necessary. SARS-CoV-2 will be endemic in society, and we will need to live with it.

In the meantime, let’s be kind to one another so that our friendships endure longer than the pandemic!

Much is being spoken of at present about the shadow pandemic, and rightly so. It would be remiss of us to focus on the health crisis caused by the pandemic and not also give attention to the severe impacts of the lockdowns and restrictions.

What is the Shadow Pandemic?

Since the outbreak of covid-19, all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have intensified. The term “Shadow Pandemic” was first coined regarding this increase in domestic violence caused by lockdown restrictions. Women and children found themselves restricted to home with an abusive, violent man.

The Shadow Pandemic now also refers to mental health concerns that have also increased, especially amongst young people. There has been an increase in ambulance attendances for suicidal thoughts and self-harm in NSW and Victoria. Add to these significant crises the grinding sense of COVID fatigue that many of us experience, and we have a shadow pandemic.


Suicides do not appear to have increased thus far due to the pandemic. Hopefully, this is owing to the array of services to help people with their mental health and programs like Job Keeper designed to soften the economic blow resulting from lockdowns.

But let’s steer clear of arguing about suicide statistics. One suicide is one too many, and it’s something that touches us deeply. I attempted to end my life when I was 20. I am very grateful I failed. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I think of the life I would have missed out on if I had ended my life. Not to mention my beautiful family and all the people I’ve impacted in the last four decades.

In my pastoral ministry, I’ve attended homes where a person has suicided. I’ve broken the tragic news to family members, I’ve conducted the funerals. It’s heartbreaking. So please, look out for your friends and family, as well as yourself. If you need help, please reach out. If you’re concerned for a friend or family member, please reach out.

Back to Normal?

It’s unlikely that any sense of “normal life” will return before 2022. We need to realise that life as we knew it is, for the time being, past tense. I read a fascinating story recently about a guy who suffered as a prisoner of war. He mentioned that the men who managed the best didn’t expect an imminent rescue. They got their mind around the concept of the long haul. That’s a healthy approach for us right now.

And realise too that “normal” life will be very different. Achieving 70-80% vaccination doesn’t mean this virus goes away. The Delta variant is at least twice as infectious as the original strain. Along with governments and medical professionals, the community will need to determine how many people getting sick and dying is acceptable to us.

For example, new research from the University of WA (and others) reveals reopening at a 70% vaccination rate could result in 6.9 million symptomatic Covid-19 cases, 154,000 hospitalisations, and 29,000 deaths. If Australia reopens once 80% of adults are vaccinated, there could be approximately 25,000 fatalities and 270,000 cases of long-COVID.

The New Normal

Living with COVID-19 will mean cases of the virus will need to be detected, traced to their source, and everyone infected will need to isolate. Quarantine will continue for those returning from overseas (“Test. Trace. Isolate. Quarantine”). Lockdowns will be limited and local and only mandated when the health system is under stress. Masks will be a sensible measure where physical distancing is not possible. My Asian friends have been wearing them for years! No, I don’t like wearing a mask either. Also “no,” I don’t like getting sick or passing sickness onto others.

With new technology, vaccines will improve, and treatments will become available. Vaccine passports may be necessary for the transition period, as was the case during the Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago. More on that at another time. I don’t believe that vaccination will be mandated except in certain professions and as required by individual companies.

In the meantime

Vaccination remains our best line of defence. I strongly encourage you to talk this through with your GP. COVID-19 is a terrible disease. Some have played down the seriousness of this virus, quoting statistics of over 99% recovery rate, but this is not the entire picture. A large portion of COVID-19 patients—possibly as high as 30 percent…suffer some type of neurological or psychiatric symptoms. Those concerned for people’s mental health need to consider this outcome of COVID-19.

These health issues, named Long COVID, can linger for weeks or months after the initial infection. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal problems, sharp muscle pain, anxiety, and depression. These can range from mild to incapacitating.

Even people who didn’t require hospitalisation are having persistent trouble. What is unclear is how many people will eventually recover and how many will be left with devastating long-term effects. What is clear is this is a virus you want to avoid at all costs ~ and avoid passing on to others!

Guard your Heart

So, how are you doing right now? If you’re stressed by the lockdowns and battling with mental health, consider Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” It’s a case of ‘secure your oxygen mask first before you help those around you.’ We all have a responsibility to self-care. If the news and social media feeds are dampening your spirits, turn them off. Do things that refresh you. What restores and uplifts you? And then, you’ll be able to look out for others from a well that is plentiful, not dry.

Further Help

(If a life is in danger, phone 000)

Lifeline ~ 13 11 14

Beyond Blue ~ 1300 22 46 36 (depression and anxiety)

Headspace ~ (Youth Mental health)

Kids’ Helpline ~ 1800 55 18 00

1800RESPECT ~ 1800 737 732 (sexual assault, domestic family violence)



Recommended Reading: Doherty Institute Executive Summary

It’s a trend I’ve observed over the past year or more, basically since the pandemic began. I’ll tell you what this trend is in a moment.

Sadly, conspiracy theories are one of the symptoms of global pandemics. I am particularly saddened by the number of Christians that have bought into these conspiracies. It appears that those who hold to a futurist view of Revelation and Bible prophecy are most vulnerable. After all, they are looking for an antichrist, a one-world government, and the mark of the beast. They then read current events in light of this, and hey presto, the global “plandemic” is the insidious work of the world’s elite forcing their agenda on unsuspecting peoples. History is littered with such claims, and they’ve ALL been wrong!

An Ongoing Trend

But back to the trend, I’ve observed. Very quickly, in a discussion about lockdown restrictions, the second or third comment will often reference Hitler’s Germany. They literally go from zero to Hitler in 8 seconds. It’s like bringing out the big guns first. “I’m going to blow this argument out of the water.” “I’ve got you now, Buckingham.” “Just think of Hitler’s Germany; what if Christians had failed to speak out then, huh?” And I wonder if they know anything about history!

Comparing government action to protect its citizens during a global pandemic to the atrocities committed by the Nazis is appalling. But let’s visit a little bit of history here and consider what really happened almost a century ago.

In the 1930s, Germany was a Christian nation. Two-thirds were protestant and one-third Catholic. Jews accounted for less than 1% of the population. And yet, the Christian community was by and large complicit with Hitler. Most church leaders were persuaded by the Nazi Party’s statement on “positive Christianity:” “We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not jeopardize the state’s existence or conflict with the manners and moral sentiments of the Germanic race.” ***

In July 1933, Hitler’s first year in power, a German pastor, Joachim Hossenfelder, preached a sermon in Berlin’s most important church – the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Speaking on Romans 13:1-7, he reminded the congregation of the importance of obedience to authorities because “The authorities that exist have been established by God.” This appeal to the Bible led much of the Christian church to either support Hitler or not resist him. This same appeal to Romans 13 was used to back the slave trade and apartheid. It is still used to support capital punishment and was quoted by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to justify the Trump Administration’s immigration policy of separating children from their families.

A few verses later in Romans chapter 13, Paul wrote, “The commandments…are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10). Love does not condone torture and murder, it doesn’t imprison and starve, and it doesn’t separate children from their parents. True Christian love does no harm to anyone.

Understanding Romans 13

So, what is Romans 13 all about? The apostle was speaking directly into the political climate of his day. Emperor Claudius ordered all Jews to leave Rome around 51 CE. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, Claudius expelled the Jews because they were rioting on account of Chrestus (Christ) – apparently referring to disputes between Christian and non-Christian Jews. Luke mentions this historical fact in Acts 18:2, “Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.” The Jews returned around January 53, and four years later, Paul wrote his letter to the Roman church while he was spending three months in Corinth.

With this historical backdrop, we can understand what Paul meant in Romans 13. Nero was now in power, and Paul encouraged the church not to unnerve the political authorities with any more disputes with non-Christian Jews in case they were all ousted once more from Rome. If this happened, it would have an adverse outcome for the church and the Gospel in the City of Rome, and so Paul encouraged the Roman Christians to do the right thing and not rebel. He also taught them to pay their taxes and live lives of respect and honour.

What Does This Mean Today?

So, let’s apply this to the current pandemic. In general, are the State and Federal governments of Australia trying to harm or kill people? Answer: No. The public health measures guiding Australia’s response to COVID-19 are attempting to protect as many people as possible from a virus that is at least 30 times deadlier than the seasonal flu and four times more infectious. COVID-19 is a new virus in the human population, so scientists are constantly discovering more about it.

While most people will recover from COVID within a few weeks, between 10% and 30% of people will still be suffering long-term effects three months later. This is called Long COVID. Symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, brain fog (similar to Alzheimer’s), aching joints, depression, and damage to the heart, lungs, and brain.

Much has been made of the blood clots associated with the Astra Zeneca Vaccine (causing one death in a million). For those who get COVID-19, 165,000 in a million cases develop blood clots. I’m taking my chances with Astra Zeneca, and so far, so good. I’m due for my second dose in September.

The question remains, is our government trying to harm its citizens? No. Then is the Hitler argument valid when applied to the current pandemic? No. Hitler’s reign of terror included the well-known Holocaust of six million Jews. In addition, Hitler was directly responsible for the murder of more than five million non-Jews. Gypsies, homosexuals, blacks, the physically and mentally disabled, political opponents, dissenting clergy, and resistance fighters were slaughtered by Hitler’s regime.

Notice the reference to dissenting clergy. We’ve seen a small number in Australia ~ pastors who have opened their churches while lockdown orders are in place. Some have called on Christians to defy the government and join protests. The dissenting clergy of Hitler’s day lost their lives. These guys are just losing their credibility.

In Nazi Germany, most clergy, and Christians, did not dissent and were thus complicit in the slaughter of millions. Let us not be complicit today in spreading false information that leads to people getting seriously ill and losing their lives. And please, stop appealing to Hitler to support your unchristian actions!



*** The Nazi Party’s statement on “positive Christianity” Article 24 of the 1920 Nazi Party Platform: “We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not jeopardize the state’s existence or conflict with the manners and moral sentiments of the Germanic race. The Party as such upholds the point of view of a positive Christianity without tying itself confessionally to any one confession. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit at home and abroad and is convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only be achieved from within on the basis of the common good before individual good.”

Throughout the craziness of 2020, you may have seen or heard multiple mentions of something called “The Great Reset.”

Some believe that this “Reset” is a plan developed secretly in an underground concrete bunker in Switzerland that is now being rolled out to enslave most of the world’s population. A viral French YouTube documentary warns that The Great Reset will bankrupt people.

Media commentators and politicians from Canada, Europe, the UK, and the USA have been warning about it in a campaign called “Stop the Reset“. I have also seen blog posts, articles, emails, and Facebook posts all warning Christians that the Great Reset is ushering in the mark of the beast, a cashless society, and The Great Tribulation. I have even heard a sermon where the speaker suggested that we choose between God or The Great Reset.

What is The Great Reset?

The Great Reset IS real but it’s far from being a secret plot. It is a movement that has been entirely out in the open. The name comes from the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) convened by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, which people attended from business, government, and NGOs. The WEF was held in June 2020 in Switzerland.

The WEF focused on what the world will be like post COVID. Every human knows that the world has changed (and will further change) due to this pandemic. Lockdowns, masks, limited travel, widespread death, and illness have impacted individuals, churches, and communities. The WEF said, “The simultaneous disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis in nearly every country around the world has forced societies into a moment of pause and reflection on what is truly of value. Rebuilding the post-pandemic economy in this spirit will require a more comprehensive definition of economic success to serve as a guide for the economic recovery.”

Klaus Schwab, WEF’s founder, and chairman suggested that “A better economy is possible but we need to reimagine Capitalism to do it” (see reference). International Monetary Fund director Kristalina Georgieva’s opening speech said, “COVID 19 needs growth that is greener, smarter, and fairer.”

Prince Charles called for a re-invigoration of science, technology, innovation, net-zero emissions, green investments, and green public infrastructure projects. The rest of the annual meeting and subsequent discussions contained various ideas that appeal to some of us and not others (see reference).

Carbon taxes, investment in education and health, changes to safety nets such as unemployment benefits, better support for charities, labour market flexibility, and a complete change in how we work were all discussed.

Conflicting Opinions

This WEF recovery plan has been interpreted as sinister by many groups reflecting the breakdown in societal trust we have seen for a few years (see reference). Interestingly, the diverse voices warning against this Great Reset are all making wildly opposite and contradictory claims. For example:

  • Prominent conservative commentators are warning that the Great Reset is a plot to destroy capitalism and impose socialism.
  • Left-wing activists are warning that The Great Reset is using the pandemic to introduce unfettered capitalism.
  • Libertarians are warning The Great Reset is nothing more than the beginning of complete and utter totalitarianism (see reference).
  • Others say it will usher in an era where all laws are removed, leading society to descend into lawless chaos.
  • Several commentators believe that the Great Reset is not a reaction to the pandemic at all. They say the Reset framers deliberately engineered the virus and released it as part of their overarching evil agenda.

In researching this blog, it became clear that few people commenting on The Great Reset had read any material in-depth, listened in full to any interviews about it, or taken the time to reflect on it. The one idea has spawned a plethora of contradictory concepts. Bluntly, they are all filtering the event through their own eyes and using suspicion of the new amid the anxiety caused by COVID19 to further their agenda.

The Great Reset has been hijacked. The usual collection of fears and worries repackaged to cast suspicion on it: a new world order under cover of a crisis led by secret elites, leading to a cashless society, poverty, and Microchips in vaccines. The posts were universal in whipping up fear, suspicion, mistrust and called for rebellion, anger, and (excuse my cynicism) financial donations.

My reactions:

The first is that the pandemic is a reminder that only God is in charge. Nothing is permanent, and the events of 2020 have shown this to be true. Whether it was the ability to give a hug at church or freely hop on a plane for a week on a Queensland or Thailand beach or go to school, these things have proven to be shockingly transitory. The Bible says that only God is trustworthy, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God has been faithful to billions of individuals for tens of thousands of years. He’s not about to change now!

Second, I believe that God has long had an intention for resets for humanity. Even a casual reading of history will show that the world has reset regularly. Crises usually speed up this process. The current pandemic has already caused many to reset relationships with families, communities, neighbours, and strangers seeking to live out a new order based on our relationship with God (Hebrews 9:10).

Thirdly, we need to understand that ‘Great Reset’ is a “brand” describing several options and possibilities for the future. Far from being secret, the Great Reset has an official website. Prince Charles, Justin Trudeau, and Boris Johnson are all openly talking about it. Time magazine has an entire section of its website focussed on it. The information is there. None of this has been “done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).

Further, we need to understand that every country cannot simply impose the various ideas suggested by the WEF. No global discussion operates that way. Look at the very different stages countries are at with climate change. Each country will have to debate and decide what aspects of the ideas they will adopt. Some have already implemented the concepts, and others never will. Everything in the world operates in this way!

Fourthly, as Christians, we need to be inserting ourselves into those ideas. We have a vital interest in building a world that is just, sustainable and fair. From Isaiah to Malachi, the Bible’s prophets cried out against injustice toward the poor again and again. We have seen incredible success worldwide, with severe poverty reduced from almost 50% of the world’s population to under 10% in fifty years. But now, COVID has reversed that trend for the first time in decades. How do we fix that? How do we continue to lift the poor out of poverty? We need to ensure that entrepreneurs and NGOs are supported to create sustainable paths for global business to continue to end poverty and build freedom. That is what The Great Reset is all about. When you consider that the Bible speaks over 2000 times of God’s people’s responsibility to aid the poor, The Great Reset is a very Christian concept!

Be kind to each other!

Finally, I appeal for us to talk in love as we debate our ideas. Respect seeks to listen before speaking. It seeks truth, not sensationalism. It seeks hope, not fear. There are so many frightened people around us. Jesus watched them, wept for them, and loved them. How do we, as Jesus’ followers, take actions to show love to our neighbours? So, the next time someone posts on Facebook saying there is a “Great Reset,” encourage them that there is indeed one and help them understand that it is highly Christian in its goals and not some evil plot!

I know this blog will disappoint some people, especially those who are strangely looking for signs of antichrist, cashless society, one-world government, and the Mark of the Beast. If that’s you, feel free to keep searching because The Great Reset has nothing to do with those things.

Last week, I put the following post on my Facebook page:

With the Australian rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine to begin in early March, I want to gauge how people think about this. And so, are you…

  • Going to be rolling up your sleeve and getting the jab ASAP.
  • Still feeling a bit reticent because of the speed of producing the vaccine, but probably going to get it.
  • Very concerned and unlikely to get the jab for a few months until you’re sure it’s safe.
  • Anti-vaccine, so I will never get it.

I then asked people to post a number that reflects them in the thread. I begged people not to post anti-vaccine videos or articles and “don’t turn this into an argument about vaccines or abortion, PLEASE.” Most people posted respectfully. A few people can’t help themselves!

The results were as follows:

Number 1 – 77

Number 2 – 35

Number 3 – 42

Number 4 – 16

While the overwhelming first choice is “I’m going to be rolling up my sleeve and getting the jab ASAP,” over 50% of people are reticent, very concerned, or unlikely to get it.

Where I Sit

I am in the number one camp. I work closely with a lot of people and currently have Christie’s elderly parents living with us. So, my family and I need to keep ourselves and others as safe as possible.

I will attempt to address several statements and questions in the Facebook thread in the rest of this blog. I’ve consulted with a medical professional who has a BSc in Immunology and microbiology from Monash University and they have helped guide my answers.

Why are we using a vaccine that is only 60% effective?

The question infers Australia will roll out an inferior vaccine that is 60% effective rather than the other ones that are 95% effective? I’ve noticed this comment a few times on Twitter recently, and it’s not accurate.

All of the vaccines Australia has signed up for (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Pfizer/BioNTech) are over 90% effective. Some are approximately 70% effective after the first jab and a follow-up one is needed a few weeks later to boost effectiveness to 95%. The vaccines are only 95% effective because some people don’t get an immune response, as is the case with other vaccines (see reference).

Risks and side-effects

Several people expressed concern about adverse reactions to other vaccines. How do we know this won’t happen with the COVID-19 vaccines? What are the risks and side-effects of these vaccines?

Different vaccines contain different things. Some, for instance, may contain egg proteins, yeast, latex (vial stoppers or syringe plungers), and gelatin, which is added to many vaccines as a stabilizer and is either bovine or porcine. If you’re allergic to any of these or think you may be, speak to your GP first to determine if there’s something in the vaccine to which you could be allergic. Nurses and pharmacists who give vaccines can deal with allergic reactions, and such reactions are rare (see reference).

Many vaccines have slight side effects like fever, headache, arm soreness, redness at the injection site, and tiredness. Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines than after the first dose. Such side effects are common for vaccines approved for other diseases and are a good sign because they show your body is developing an immune response. Your body is doing what God created it to do.

Of course, any medical procedure has risks, and these are often highlighted by those who are anti vaccines. Consider Pfizer/BioNTech, who conducted a 41,000-person clinical trial. One hundred seventy of these volunteers contracted COVID-19, 162 had received a placebo. Only eight people who received the vaccine became ill.

During the trial, ten people became severely ill. Nine of those people were in the placebo group, while one severely ill person was in the vaccine group. Among people 65 and older, the vaccine was more than 94 per cent effective. That’s excellent news because vaccines often are not as effective in older people. After all, immune systems tend to weaken with age (see reference).

What about the speed of production?

In my thread, several people expressed concern about the speed at which the vaccines had been produced. Understand that the base of many vaccines is similar. It’s just the protein spike that is different. For example, the Novavax one has a similar base to the yearly flu jab. In other words, it’s the same train, but we’ve just added another passenger! Also, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tremendous amount of funding has been released to speed up research.

“The world was able to develop COVID-19 vaccines so quickly because of years of previous research on related viruses and faster ways to manufacture vaccines, enormous funding that allowed firms to run multiple trials in parallel, and regulators moving more quickly than normal” (see reference).

I’ll end this blog with a few brief answers to some other questions:

Does the vaccine alter our DNA?

No, it doesn’t. DNA lives in a cell’s nucleus and is thus protected. The mRNA in the vaccine goes nowhere near the nucleus where the DNA is. (See reference).

Have the mRNA components caused irreversible damage to some trial participants?

No, they haven’t. It’s a conspiracy theory spread by someone in Germany who claimed to be a naturopath.

Who should get vaccinated?

Everyone, as long as you don’t have any underlying health conditions or allergies that prevent you from safely being vaccinated. It’s important to talk with your GP.

Where should people get their information?

The Internet is an incredible and horrible tool. It allows us to communicate better than ever, but it is also a cesspool of false information that can lead people astray. We’ve witnessed this in a whole new way during the pandemic with the spread of ridiculous conspiracy theories. So, get your information from credible sources ~ highly qualified Immunologists (Ph.D.), experts in their field, and peer-reviewed journal articles. Please note, watching a YouTube clip is not research. And check people out to make sure they are qualified.

Mims’ Medical Microbiology and Immunology (6th edition) is the textbook used by Monash University on this subject and can be ordered online.

I’ll get the vaccine if God tells me to!

The likelihood of God telling you to get a COVID-19 vaccine is relatively remote. I’ve found that God usually saves audible utterances for events of some magnitude. He’s a deity of few words! For everything else, God gives “a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). A sound mind = sanctified common sense. Does it make sense amid a global pandemic where millions are getting sick, and almost two million people have died, for people to be vaccinated against said virus? It’s a “yes” from me!

Like the Spanish Flu (H1N1 Influenza Virus) of a century ago, the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually end. But we will need to learn to live with this virus for a long time to come. Vaccination will be one way to bring it to an end and, hopefully, we’ve all learned lessons in hygiene that will stand us in good stead as we continue to live in God’s beautiful yet fallen world. Let us do everything we can to love our neighbour as ourselves as we live through these turbulent times.



A person I admire much is C.S. Lewis. I never got to meet him. He passed away when I was five, and I didn’t learn about him until I converted to Christianity in the late 70s. C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity, is one of the first Christian books I read. It’s still one of the books I recommend to people who want to learn more about their faith.

After reading Mere Christianity, I was hooked. Over the next few years, I ploughed through many of his other books: The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, and, of course, the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Recently, I stumbled across a quote (from 1948) by C.S. Lewis addressing the fear that gripped the world in the wake of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan that effectively ended WW2. There is much of what he wrote that is still applicable over seven decades later as the world is gripped by another catastrophe:

In one way, we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anaesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world that already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that), but they need not dominate our minds. — “On Living in an Atomic Age.”


What a way Lewis had with words. There’s so much in this extract from one of his Journalistic Essays that we can meditate on today. Death is inevitable, and there are so many ways in which a person can die. But that thought should not stop us from making the very most of every moment in the meantime.

During 2020, I’ve watched people deal with the global pandemic in all sorts of ways. Some have gone down the rabbit hole of conspiracies (as if the world has never faced a pandemic before). Others have been gripped by fear or denied there even is a virus! But most of us have taken it in our stride, trusted our leaders, listened to wise advice, and made the most of life as it became. My introverted friends even told me they enjoyed the lockdown.

Jesus taught his followers to make the most of every season of life they found themselves in. In the Parable of Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27), Jesus used a word that is found only once in the New Testament. He told them, “Occupy till I come” (13). The word pragmateuomai is an ancient mercantile term for trading. It means “to be fruitful, to be occupied in anything; to carry on a business.”

Pragmateuomai is where our English word “pragmatic” is derived. It means, be practical, sensible, & reasonable – excellent qualities for any person, especially followers of Jesus. Sadly, this year I’ve seen some of God’s people (even pastors and church leaders) spread lies and conspiracies that are anything but sensible and reasonable. Time will show their teachings, scaremongering, and (so-called) prophecies to be what they are – entirely false!

Let God’s people be known for their common-sense, their wisdom, and their fruitfulness. And let’s enjoy our lives and help others to do the same. Let’s remember the words of C.S. Lewis when the end comes, let it “find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.” Or pandemics!

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!

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).