Vaccines and the Mark of the Beast

Recently, someone emailed a question about taking the COVID Vaccine and the Mark of the Beast. She told me of a “Facebook friend” who is always shouting about these things and touting that the Mark of the Beast is in fact COVID 19 Vaccines. She said that she was inundated with messages of dire consequences of taking the COVID 19 Vaccine and asked me whether I thought it is the Mark of the Beast.

The short answer to this question is, “No.” 

My more detailed answer, for those who would like to know what I personally think on this subject, is copied from my email here. As a side note, I’m not interested in publicly debating with people on this issue. If you (the reader) have a different opinion from me, you are within your rights…
———————————————————-

You ask some deep questions, and I am so glad to engage with you over these issues. I hope my words make sense to you and bring you some comfort. Over the years we have seen many people make dire predictions about the imminent end of all things, the mark of the beast, the antichrist, the return of Christ and the tribulation, amongst other things. I must say that all of these predictions have proved to be false, not true, useless in fact. All the scare-mongering has only served to confuse and bring discouragement to many.

Please hear me carefuuly: In the first place, my advice to you would be to minimise the influence your Facebook friend has on your thinking. From your description, he sounds like he has a long way to go. His advice is dangerous and insensitive to who the Holy Spirit is calling us, as His people, to be. The Bible repeatedly tells us to walk in faith, to disallow the effects of fear in our thinking and actions, and to be a good witness to Jesus, through our words and actions.

It must be said, in my case, I have had the two doses of vaccine and have suffered no ill effects from them other than a slightly sore arm and a bit of drowsiness the next day. It has not impaired my love for the Lord, nor my devotion to him, nor has it affected my thinking. Taking the vaccine has not caused me any hardship. I’m not suddenly out of touch with the Holy Spirit, nor am I suffering from any ill effects in my spiritual walk.

Also, concerning the mark of the beast; when it comes, it will be a definite choice to ally one’s self with the enemies of God. It will not be a thing where people can be “tricked” into going to hell. You need not fear it in any way. There have been many things that people have said IS the “Mark of the Beast, a small list of some of them are:
      • Some coins of the Roman Empire
      • Marks of witchcraft in the dark ages
      • Credit Cards
      • Barcodes
      • QR Codes
      • Australia Card
      • Medicare card
      • Cashless society
      • Donald Trump insignia
      • RFID chips injected under the skin
      • Various Vaccines (yes, the fear over vaccines is not new)
      • Tatoos
      • COVID Vaccine
      • Many, many others.

Christians are very creative when it comes to predicting end times. We have been told by various ‘authorities’ that the end of the world and the second coming of Christ are about to happen, not hundreds, but THOUSANDS of times. Every single one of them was wrong. The internet has just given all these people a larger voice, but it doesn’t give them authority.

The thing I want to say is, don’t worry about it. All these self-pronounced experts in eschatology are drops of water in a very big bucket.

In your email, I loved what you said. “the Lord already claimed  His children when He died for us, so therefore we are marked by God and covered by His blood.” This is the truth, Holly. You are marked by the Holy Spirit and He knows you, loves you and will eventually bring you home to heaven to live with Him in eternal glory. How good is that!

We can all feel safe in the Lord. When the time comes for the Mark of the Beast, it will not be a thing that people are tricked into, it will be a definite choice to follow satan instead of God. Whatever form it will take, you do not need to worry about it nor fret that people will be inadvertently and unknowingly condemned. The Lord is not stupid, nor is He a cruel ogre. He loves people and does not want anyone to perish, but that all should come to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

National Prayer Meetings are a Real Adventure!

All Full Gospel Australia pastors have the opportunity to gather together online for prayer and fellowship. We meet twice each week on Wednesdays at 6 AM and 6 PM EST and WE LOVE IT! One of the strengths of these meetings is that we come with no personal agendas; we come with no barrows to push; we gather together to love one another; lift each other in prayer, to minister to and to be ministered too.

Pastors from all over Australia attend our prayer meetings: From Broome in the North of West Australia to Hobart in Tasmania; from Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, our pastors report that they are encouraged and helped in both their personal and ministry lives. Each week we lift the entire nation of Australia in prayer. Our meetings are a meeting of family, of people who choose to love one another and treat each other with dignity, respect and deference.

How good it is when we dwell together in unity, for there God commands his blessing (Psalm 133). We are blessed as we meet together in unity, we are blessed by each other’s love and by the blessing commanded by God over us, our families and our ministries and communities.

This morning we were especially blessed to have amongst us the leader of a Bible College in India: Pastor Andrew. He told us of the conditions his Church and Bible College are in now. Some of these are:

        • They have been in Lock-Down for 18 months
            • Businesses closed
            • People not allowed out of their houses unless in an emergency
            • Food and other necessities are delivered to their homes
            • All Churches have been closed for 18 months
            • Their Bible college has also been closed for 18 months
        • Over 1000 cases of COVID19 currently in their area
        • Not enough vaccines for their population
        • Churches are meeting online and facing waning attendance
        • People are suffering from depression and other mental illness
        • Students of the Bible College finding it hard to maintain their studies
        • Churches and Christian institutions are facing extreme financial hardship
        • Hospitals are overwhelmed and in short supply of the basics
        • Some Burmese students have been harassed by their Tatmadaw (military) government and their studies have been severely curtailed. They are in fear for their lives.

Yet, they remain positive and looking to the future victory in Christ. Pastor Andrew was surrounded by love this morning as all the pastors online reached out to him with their care and love, praying for him, his family and his ministry. We also prayed especially for the students who have been affected by the COVID Pandemic.

Each of our online prayer meetings is different from all the others. We gather to praise and worship the Lord, to encourage one another and to pray for and support one another. I love these meetings, they are a real source of inspiration and strength and I bless God for each one who joins in.

The meeting details are contained in emails sent to each pastor. If you want to come to one of our prayer meetings, please email FGA for the meeting details.

 

A Prophetic Image for the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit

This prophetic vision was given for Australia very recently: it is quite short, yet a powerful image. It is:

 


Australia turned upside down in the sea with its white roots showing. 


God is calling us to salvation.

 

These Verses from Isaiah accompanied this prophetic image:

 

Isaiah 57: 13
When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!
The wind will carry them off,
a breath will take them away.
But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land
and shall inherit my holy mountain.
14 And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

 

18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19 creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the LORD,
“and I will heal him.

 

Let’s cry out to God for Salvation in Australia.

Ideas for Reaching those Outside Your Circle of Influence #2

Here are three more creative and different ways to reach out to people in your community with the Love of Christ.  All Full Gospel Australia churches and ministries are focused on the community that God has given them, or placed them in, reaching people with the good news that God loves them and wants to benefit them is part of what we are all about.

In the first post of this series we talked about donating blankets to the homeless,  starting a Christians Against Poverty ministry and mowing lawns for the elderly. you can read that post here.

Buy Something and Sell it FOR LESS!

One of our very respected pastors identified that he had limited access to people outside the church because he was so busy with people inside the church. This can be a common challenge for busy pastors. As he was thinking about this, he felt the Lord draw him towards a need in the community for a common but reasonably expensive food product.

So GUESS WHAT!

He found a supplier who would sell him bulk quantities of the finest quality product, then he divided it up into smaller lots, and sold them FOR LESS THAN HE BOUGHT THEM!

He is constantly meeting new people as they come to buy his products. He uses these opportunities to tell people of God’s great love for them – they  get two beautiful bargains: a good deal and the Good News!

He reasons that this is the most effective spend in his evangelism budget: and its fun!

Form a Play Group

Play groups are amazing opportunities for people to get to know one another in a non-threatening and supportive atmosphere. There is a huge need in the community for people who are busy, who are encountering new things in life (like having a toddler!) and who might be lonely. Recent statistics show that loneliness is an increasing problem for young people: a Play Group provides a place for people to connect.

A Play Group can be run by a young mum, a grandparent, or an elderly person as the important thing is relationship! All you need is a safe place to meet, access to snacks and refreshments, and safe parking.

Ask Your Local Hospital Auxiliary What They Need

One of the best way to reach out to people is to provide something they need. You might be surprised at what they ask you to do, and it could be easier and more achievable than you think. Full Gospel Australia strongly links the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Community Transformation, in that the Life of Jesus Christ is more than a personal experience for individuals. His Life in us causes us to be salt in this world, a transformative substance which makes a difference!

Even a small fellowship can make a huge difference in partnering with a local medical facility, opening doors for conversations that would never happen otherwise.

Guest Post from Colin Grigg, Senior Pastor of New Hope Church, Swansea, NSW

Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

Out of the heart, the mouth speaks!
Proverbs 23:6-7  – says, for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink”, he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
Of course these verses are speaking about someone who is stingy with their money, but it is also a revelation about what happens when we could perhaps be thinking about one thing yet speaking something entirely different. The American Indians used to have a saying for this… “You speak with forked tongue!”
The often interpreted version of Verse 7 above is …”As a man thinks, so is he.”, which is not a mistake or a misinterpretation, it is just used in a more general sense to demonstrate the fact that our thinking drives our actions. Yes, everything that we do starts with a thought – good or bad!
The point here is that whatever we are thinking we become! We can speak all kinds of false words, and fool some people, but never do we fool them all.
So, the message is, be careful about what you think and how you think! What we think can be random, but how we think is usually what forms our attitude, or a pattern in the way we think, which is also known as a paradigm (Acts 17:11 and John 14:26). In order to change these attitudes, we need to dedicate ourselves to maintaining a teachable spirit (or heart).
This requires us to build a new attitude. An attitude of hunger for truth as we read in Acts 17:11 like the Berean’s mentioned, always receiving the word with eagerness, and “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”. And added to this we need to develop an ear to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the church (Hebrews 5:14), because if we are not 100% teachable we risk missing God’s truth altogether.
As Christians, these really are the things that we need to do in preparation for hearing what the Spirit is saying to the church and to ourselves. We cannot hear the Spirit of God when we are harbouring doubts and fear.
It’s not enough to act like a Christian, because that is truly not Christianity! If we are going to be a Christian, we need to “be” one from the inside out. It all starts on the inside – Luke 6:45 – “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”. God is concerned about the attitudes in our heart, and we cannot fool God. He looks and makes judgements about us from our heart, not from the actions on the outside, but on the heart, which is inside (2 Chronicles 16:9 and 1 Samuel 16:7).
This is why David cried to the Lord after committing his sin with Bathsheba in Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
So, let’s be a true Christian and walk before God by keeping tabs on our thinking and repenting and asking forgiveness when we fall. If we do, we will ensure that we always walk in the victory and power that Jesus died to give us. Yes, we will face trials, and we will fail at times (Psalm 34:19), but we will also prevail over all things as God has promised. God bless you richly!
Ps. Colin Grigg
Director – Full Gospel Churches of Australia
Reverend Colin Grigg is Senior Pastor at New Hope Church in Swansea, NSW. They have a vibrant, welcoming church where all are welcome, and made to FEEL WELCOME. He and Debra are the NSW Coordinators for Full Gospel Australia, and Colin is a Director of FGA. 

Ideas for Reaching those Outside Your Circle of Influence

There are as many creative and different ways to meet people as there are people. Just lately I’ve heard of some very creative ways that people in churches are using to reach others in their local communities. Here are just three interesting and very doable ideas to meet people in your community with the Love of Christ.

Donate Blankets to the Homeless

Homeless people are in every community. Yes, you heard me right; every community. People are couch-surfing with their relatives and friends, living in the cars, staying in shelters, actually living under bridges. As winter comes on, life gets very hard when you’re living rough.

Blankets can be brought very cheaply from various places and for very little money, a good many can be bought. Keep an eye out for people living rough and offer them blankets and a food voucher from a local take-away restaurant.  You can buy them online from Kmart delivered to your door! (No affiliate link here – its just convenient and a great product)

Lots of people in your congregation or ministry will love to be involved in this amazing ministry.

Start a Christians Against Poverty Ministry

Christians Against Poverty empower your church with a range of powerful tools to help people in your community. They believe that no Australian should live in financial distress, and so will partner with you to be a positive influence in your community. They will help with training your people, supply ideas, systems and background help so you can make an amazing difference to those in your community who are struggling with their finances.

Remember that the “middle-class poor” is a burgeoning phenomenon in Australia. Your church or ministry could be a wonderful help to those who are quietly suffering in your local community.

Mow Lawns For the Elderly or Disabled

Do you have a number of people in your church or ministry who love working outdoors and would give a few hour’s every so often? There are so many people who could use a hand in the garden, or just to mow the lawn every now and then. Begin small, advertise on a community board at the local shopping centre or doctor’s surgery or community centre. Soon you will have people from your community requesting you to come and help them.

Why would you do these things?

So you can talk to people, so you can help them, so you can be the light of goodness in a world that really needs to see you shine. Talking to your neighbours is still the best way to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

FGA Professional Development for Ministers of the Gospel

Professional development (PD) is ongoing professional learning, or within FGA, it is continuing to develop ministry skills and learning. Full Gospel Australia has introduced PD as an activity which reflects one of our core values: being a family of ministers who are committed to serving their local communities to the best of their abilities and who continually seek opportunities to perfect their ministry skills.

Each Minister in  FGA commits to engaging with continuing professional development in order to maintain their credential. This enhances their standing in their community and ensures their ministry is continually improving. FGA is in turn committed to providing great opportunities for all our ministers so they can be the best they can be.

Some of the opportunities FGA provides for Professional Development are:

        • Online Pastor’s Meetings
        • Online Special Events or Webinars
        • College of Ministry Leadership – accredited education for ministry in a Higher Education, online format
        • State Conferences
        • National Conferences
        • Online Marriage Celebrant Training
        • We recommend the Alpha Marriage Course
        • We recommend the Child Safe Organisation’s Child Safety online course
        • Other training Days and get-togethers

Ministers accumulate PD points (1 Point = 1 Hour of Study or Development Activity) by engaging with studies or activities which further develop their ability to minister. The overwhelming majority of Full Gospel Australia’s ministers already accumulate far more than the standard 20 PD hours set.

For instance, reading a theological or ministry book may take on average 5 to 7 hours for a 250 page book. We allow five points for reading a 250-300 page theology or ministry book. A one day conference will likely include about five hours of teaching, ministry training or development activity: we allow five points for a one day conference. A training day for Child Safety in Organisations  usually goes for one day of around five hours of mixed lectures, study and activities. We allow ten points for completion of a Child Safe Training day.

Do Your Diploma of Ministry – 1 Year Higher Education Diploma!

The Diploma of Ministry is open to people of all ages, backgrounds and aspirations!  The Diploma of Ministry is an 8 unit course which can be completed in one to four years, depending on how many units you do each trimester*.  The award is a Higher Education Diploma which means that you can use it as your first year of a Bachelor of Ministry**.

You can study at your own pace and enjoy great companionship within our Cohort of Students who come from all over Australia. We meet weekly on ZOOM during the trimester to fellowship and learn together. We also offer one to one sessions to address any particular concern you might have with your study. You’re safe with us!

The Diploma of Ministry is recognised throughout Australia and the world as it is an accredited course.***  You can feel safe that you are studying with a respected education provider, that you’re studying an accredited award and that what you are studying will stand you will be applicable in your future ministry!

Doing a course with the College of Ministry Leadership  is a powerful investment in your future ministry as you pursue God’s calling on your life! Download the PROSPECTUS today and apply for a place in our DIPLOMA OF MINISTRY.

We also places in various Bachelor Degrees and Post Graduate degrees, including a Master of Leadership, A Master of Theological Study and a Master of Ministry. See the Prospectus for further details now.

 

* We study within three trimesters each year, these generally run from (1) Mid February to early May; (2) Later in May till August; and then (3) Later in August to November.
**To use the Diploma of Ministry as the first year pf your Bachelor of Ministry you must complete your Dip Min at a Credit level for all units.
*** For more information please see our PROSPECTUS, click here!

Church Life and Pastoral Care in NSW

Dear Pastors of NSW,
We are praying for you and your congregations. During this time of restrictions we urge you to join our Pastor’s Round Table ZOOM  meetings at any of the following times. Meeting details are emailed privately:
Monday 6:30 AM
Wednesday 6:30 AM
Wednesday 5:30 PM
Friday 6:30 AM
Friday 6:00 PM

Church Life and Pastoral Care in NSW

NSW has been placed on high alert by the NSW government due to increased community based infections of COVID-19 and other various reasons. Victoria has unprecedented restrictions being placed on its citizens in order to stop community transmission, the proximity of Victoria to NSW and ease of travel between the two states has placed NSW in a heightened place of vulnerability. Therefore, it is every NSW pastor’s duty of care to ensure their places of worship are conducted in a safe and responsible manner.
Please ensure you are up to date with NSW Government COVID related regulations. It is your responsibility to be aware of the rules and to follow them. Some of your responsibilities include:
  • Prepare and Maintain a COVID-19 Safety Plan
    • All places of worship must register their COVID-19 Safety Plan through nsw.gov.au.
  • If you hold public gatherings, the number of persons that can be on the premises is equivalent to one person per 4 square metres of space in the premises, or 100 people, total.
    • Weddings are limited to 150 people.
    • Funerals are limited to 100 people.
  • Exclude staff and congregants who are unwell from the premises. No exceptions.
  • Group singing is considered high risk and so should continue to be avoided.
  • Keep a record of name and a mobile number or email address for all staff, volunteers, visitors and contractors for a period of at least 28 days. For households, one contact is sufficient to support contact tracing. Ensure records are used only for the purposes of tracing COVID-19 infections and are stored confidentially and securely.
  • Ensure your cleaning regime is COVIDsafe.
More information can be viewed here:
An excellent site maintained by Sydney Anglicans is: https://sydneyanglicans.net/covidchurchworkerfaqs

Church Life and Pastoral Care in Victoria

Dear Full Gospel Pastors of Victoria,
We are praying for you and your congregations. During this time of restrictions we urge you to join our Pastor’s Round Table ZOOM  meetings at any of these times:
Monday 6:30 AM
Wednesday 6:30 AM
Wednesday 5:30 PM
Friday 6:30 AM
Friday 6:00 PM
Please refer to the emails sent to you for meeting details.

Church Life and Pastoral Care in Victoria

Victoria is under two types of COVID-19 Restictions:
1.       Metropolitan Victoria is in Stage 4 Restictions
2.       Regional Victoria is in Stage 3 Restrictions

NB: You are responsible for determining which level of restriction you are under, and to act within the law at all times.

VICTORIA STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS

PLACES OF WORSHIP ARE CLOSED

EXEMPTIONS for pre-recording or live broadcasting services ( 5 people max on site – includes volunteers) or foodbanks and community services
CHURCH OFFICES MUST CLOSE – This means that all church administrative work must be done at home including preparation of services, pastoral care, church admin etc.
WEDDINGS are not allowed during the next 6 weeks unless for compassionate reasons
FUNERALS are allowed but only for 10 people
WORKER PERMITS – If staff (paid or volunteers) are attending the church for work (only for reasons above) the Church) MUST issue a WORKER PERMIT  – this is the employer’s responsibility and must be carried at all times by the employee.
FACE COVERINGS ETC – Face coverings, one person to four-square metres rule and appropriate physical distancing is maintained by keeping at least 1.5 metres between everyone at all time
COVIDSafe PLANS  ESSENTIAL – All workplaces that remain open (Churches who are prerecording services, live broadcasting or operating foodbanks) must complete a COVIDsafe plan by 11:59pm on Friday 7th August
8pm CURFEW  – All services should conclude by 7:30pm to allow for workers to be at home by 8pm.
NO CHURCH MAINTENANCE – For the next 6 weeks, only emergency safety maintenance will be allowed – mowing lawns, basic church upkeep etc. cannot be undertaken.
Information about completing a COVIDsafe plan is available here:
Permitted Worker Scheme Information: https://www.vic.gov.au/worker-permit-scheme

VICTORIA STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS

PLACES OF WORSHIP

Places of religion and worship must close for both religious ceremonies and private worship. Exceptions are:

CEREMONIES AND SERVICES can still be recorded or broadcast live from the place of worship for viewing online. Those who are necessary to conduct the ceremony may be on site to record and live stream services, however this is limited to a maximum of five (5) people including volunteers. You should ensure those people wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres between each other at all times
ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SUPPORT SERVICES such as food banks, help for the homeless or other essential activities allowed, ensuring face coverings are worn and appropriate physical distancing is maintained by keeping at least 1.5 metres between everyone at all times
·       If you can work from home, you must  – all church administrative work must be done at home including preparation of services, pastoral care, church admin etc.
WEDDINGS limited to five people – the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant
FUNERALS limited to 10 mourners plus those required to conduct the funeral
·       A wedding or funeral held in a private residence will be limited to the members of the household, plus the people required to conduct the ceremony
FACE COVERINGS ETC – Face coverings, one person to four-square metres rule and appropriate physical distancing is maintained by keeping at least 1.5 metres between everyone at all time
HOSPITAL VISITATION is restricted, however a pastor providing essential physical or emotional care that cannot be delivered by the health service care team or via electronic means may be allowed to visit. Individual hospitals may not allow pastoral visit – please ensure you act according to all directions from hospital staff if you choose to visit
PASTORAL CARE in PRIVATE HOMES is not mentioned in Victorian State, however FGA advise that unless there is a true emergency, personal visitation should cease till restrictions are lifted
Further Information:

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/visiting-hospitals-covid-19

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/stage-3-restrictions-covid-19

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-coverings-covid-19