Biblical study series for this week on the Social Gospel Blog with Minister & Author Paul J. Bern will be part 3 of Acts chapter 2, on the continuing relevance of the Day of Pentecost https://www.social-gospel.net/so/58NN32iTV
My Prophecy Against Phony Churches
and Their False Teachings
by Minister Paul J. Bern
This past week on the Lame Stream Media, I noticed that Jerry Falwell, Jr., son of the TV evangelist Jerry Falwell, was forced to resign his position as head of Liberty University in South Carolina after evidently getting caught up in a bisexual love triangle with his wife and another younger man. You probably know by now that this little incident is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corruption in the ministry in modern Christian churches of today. Having written a Sunday message about financial corruption in government and the churches just a few months ago, I will skip over that for now. Today, I want to alert everyone who reads this to be aware of certain other teachings that are being taught in some churches as being factual and prophetic when in fact they are neither. These three erroneous teachings, in no particular order, are the ‘prosperity gospel’, the “pre-tribulation rapture”, and tithing”. Allow me a little of your time to sort through these because this is stuff that people, be they Christian or otherwise, need to be made aware of. Otherwise one may find themselves on the wrong road, forcing them to back-track. I cannot stand idly by and allow this to occur, so here we go.
First and foremost, in the “prosperity gospel”, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite – God uses the believer. Word of Faith, or ‘prosperity theology’, sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God’s will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them. The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1st Timothy 6:10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20), and teaching His disciples to do the same. Let’s also not forget that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas, and we all know what happened to him.
James chapter 4, verses 13-15 clearly contradicts the prosperity gospel: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive. Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”
The second of the 3 false teachings is the so-called “pre-tribulation rapture”, which is based on the rapture of the Church as written in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, verses 15-18, among other places. In this passage of Scripture, the Lord returns for His people, his Church, and for His Bride, which are one and the same. The ‘rapture’, as it’s called, coincides with the Great Tribulation as foretold in the books of Revelation, Daniel, Zechariah and others in the old and new testaments. The reign of the Antichrist, as foretold in Daniel chapter 12, will last for exactly three and a half years.
But in the very next sentence it says that prior to that, there will be a period of 1,335 days (about 3.6 years) of turmoil upon the earth, with wars, plagues, pestilences and much death being inflicted on humankind. It is this period of time that signifies the first part of the Great Tribulation (as prophesied in Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 21), that is in question by these “pre-tribulation” believers. The “pre-tribulation” rapture simply says that all followers of Christ will be taken up at the very beginning of the combined 7-year tribulation period (that is, the 1,335 days plus the 3.5-year reign of the Antichrist just before Jesus’ return).
But this implies that Christians – particularly American Christians – will (allegedly) not have to endure any of the Great Tribulation period. Brothers and sisters, nothing could be further from the truth! The Bible clearly states in Revelation 13, verses 6-7, “He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander His name and His dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” “He” in this passage refers to the Antichrist, and he clearly will wage war against Christianity – and the Antichrist will win up until his end comes, which it most certainly will.
Any Christian – including Catholic, Protestant and Jewish Christians – who think they will escape persecution in the terrible times soon to come is ill-informed and dangerously naive. If any US resident who is in the top 2% income bracket is reading this thinks they can stay safely barricaded in their gated and walled communities during the time of the Great Tribulation – which according to prophecy will likely begin any time now – I’m sorry but you are all sadly mistaken. I realize I’m not going to be winning any popularity contests (especially here in the US) for making that statement, but it is in your own best interests that the truth be told.
The rule of the Antichrist will be global, meaning he’ll be running the North American continent just like everywhere else. And yes indeed, some American Christians are going to wind up getting killed for refusing to worship the image of the Antichrist or take his mark. I fully expect to be one of these fortunate individuals. Yes, I wrote “fortunate” out of due deference to the apostle James, who wrote: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promise to those who love him.” (James chapter 1 verse 12) Jesus himself said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for their righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5, verses 11-12) So I tell you boldly that we are not to fear persecution when it comes, and it is surely coming! Instead, the Bible commands us to embrace it.
The last thing I need to mention here is ‘titheing’. The word ‘titheing’ has its roots all the way back in the Old Testament to the books of Moses, in this case to Leviticus – it can also be found elsewhere too, but for the sake of brevity let me side-step that for now. The definition of titheing is the giving of 10% of one’s net worth, or in ancient times one’s crops or livestock, to the Lord. This had two purposes. The first and most important was as an atonement for sin, and the second was as a donation towards the upkeep of the Temple in Jerusalem as well as to the High Priests for their sustenance. But that was the Old Law, or Law of Moses as it is still called in synagogues to this very day. Jesus Christ was the final sacrifice which fulfilled Levitical law, which says there must be shedding of blood for our sins. Sorry if that seems too graphic for some people, but I didn’t write any part of the Bible, I’m only a messenger.
But on Resurrection Sunday when Jesus rose from the grave to live forever and to be seated eternally at his Father’s right hand, the New Testament, or law of Christ, not only supplanted but entirely replaced the Law of Moses. A new deal took effect – a fresh covenant. Jesus Christ is the new sacrifice, He is the new covenant and the fulfillment of the old one – all at the same time. Only Jesus can do that. What does the Bible tell us about this? “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who are baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3, verses 26-29)
OK, so if we are all heirs due to the sacrifice of Christ, then we are also all equals, am I right? At the very least, we would be Jewish by adoption in the eyes of God, but not so in the eyes of men. So, it no longer matters how much we put into the offering basket, because Jesus has paid the price for us all. This teaching about tithing is cut from the same cloth as the ‘pre-tribulation rapture’ and the ‘prosperity gospel’. Virtually all of the modern churches are teaching the Old Testament concept of tithing, the giving of 10% of the profits, or of one’s income, for the support of the Temple at Jerusalem and all the Levitical priests.
Today in most churches, its members are still expected to “tithe” 10% of their income because the pastors haven’t read their Bibles in so long they have forgotten what’s in it. Sacrifice can also be done in far more ways than merely giving money. The apostle Paul wrote something that I think is very timely concerning the modern Christian church and its “teachings” about titheing. “If the willingness is there”, Paul wrote, “the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” And again it is written, “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth’, he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (Luke 21, verses 1-4)
Notice that this is exactly the opposite of what most of the modern evangelical/Christian churches are teaching, especially those with a strong television presence. Instead of sending our money to the TV evangelists, donate it to your own churches where you congregate, or to the charity of your choice. Give what you can to others first, and to the church second, according to your ability. “I desire mercy”, Jesus said, “not sacrifice”. The size of your offering does not matter. Real Christians will not judge your offering. Only the bogus ones will size you up. The one true God won’t judge your offering either.
Settling the Controversy, and Dispelling the Myths, of ‘Speaking in Tongues’ In Church and In Prayer
(1st Corinthians chapter 14, verses 1-17)
In this week’s lesson we will begin the 14th chapter of First Corinthians which I will break up into 2 parts for the sake of brevity. There is considerable confusion within the Christian church as a whole regarding the issue of speaking and praying in tongues. Some believe speaking in tongues is evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and this is essentially true. But there is an erroneous teaching that presents speaking in tongues as the primary – or worse yet the only – evidence of being a ‘born again Christian’. As you are about to read, this teaching is incorrect and misleading because it is based on verses of Scripture being taken out of context. In a worst case scenario, it drives away new believers who mistakenly think that since they do not have the gift of speaking in tongues, then they must be falling short when it comes to their level of faith. This kind of teaching is damaging and ultimately destructive to the propagation of the Gospel. That’s why I stand against it. Let’s now read what the apostle Paul wrote about it, beginning at verse 1.
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.” (1st Corinthians 14, verses 1-5)
In verse 1, the first five words are written in the form of a command to the first century Corinthian church, and that command is equally applicable today as it was when Paul the apostle wrote these words nearly 2,000 years ago. The words “follow the way of love” refer to the two Great Commandments Jesus gave in the 4 gospels: “Love the Lord your God with all your might, with all your soul, with all your heart and with all your strength. And the second command is like it; love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments rest all the law and the prophets.” This is ‘commandment number one’ for not only the church, but for the entire world.
The apostle Paul is also stating that it is not possible to truly serve God through our relationship with Christ unless we first practice and obey these first two crucial commandments. Anyone who does not obey them rejects Christ, and by extension God. Only after that does Paul write, “eagerly desire Spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy”. This intense desire for Spiritual gifts is evidence of our devotion and loyalty to Christ and to the saving power of his Blood. Paul then goes on to explain why he believes prophecy to be the most important Spiritual gift.
“For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit…. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues…..” In this verse of scripture Paul makes it abundantly clear that, while all gifts of the Spirit have their place and their importance, the gift of prophecy trumps speaking in tongues (and all the other gifts), and therefore gets precedence within the true Church. Paul then continues with this train of thought beginning at verse 6.
“Now brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. So it is with you. Since you are eager to have Spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” (1st Corinthians 14, verses 6-12)
As you can clearly see here, the apostle Paul is stating emphatically that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about exercising the Spiritual gifts, and especially that of speaking in tongues. Abruptly speaking in tongues in the middle of a service, for example, would be a distraction at best and an interruption at worst, ruining the spirit of the moment during the act of worship. Not only is there a time and a place for it, it would be out of place for someone who does not have the gift of speaking in tongues to attempt to imitate those who do. If you see others that have this gift and realize that you do not, there is no shame in this at all, and let no one tell you otherwise! No one can rightfully fault you for your silence in that case.
Silence in church can be a kind of reverence, provided that our thoughts are directed towards Jesus. God simply has a different place for you within the Bride of Christ, and a different gift that suits you best. Let go and let God. Allow the gifts of the Spirit to come to you through prayer, persistence and faithfulness, and do not attempt to blindly pursue it on your own. The Holy Spirit will lead you down the correct path, so do not concern yourselves with that. Paul then continues in verse 13.
“For this reason anyone who speaks with a tongue should pray that he interpret what he says. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.” (1st Corinthians 14, verses 13-17)
Although I can and do pray in tongues, it is not my main spiritual gift and it’s not something I do on a daily basis. When I do I am usually in church and I pray quietly to myself, but if I am in public and alone, such as walking down a street or waiting for a bus or subway, I also sometimes pray in tongues when the Spirit moves me to do so. I would not pray out loud with others present unless I can interpret what I am saying (and I often can’t), otherwise bystanders on the street or other folks in church would be mystified and bewildered at best. There is such a thing as one person in church being able to interpret what another is saying in tongues, but I have only seen one such church where this gift of the Spirit was present in over 27 years of being a born again Christian.
Do not allow the topic of speaking and praying in tongues to distract you in your walk with Christ. Jesus is the Savior and kinsman redeemer of all humankind and it is by His blood that we are saved – that and grace, which is a separate topic. Continue to make sure He is the center of your life and the focus of your faith. And when this is all over some day, we will be united in heaven with Him forever and ever with one language, the elegant language of praise in Spirit and in Truth. So be sure and praise Him and be thankful every day, and next week we’ll cover the rest of 1st Corinthians 14.
The ‘Christian Right’ Would Disagree With Me If I Told Them What Was Really In the Bible
by Minister Paul J. Bern
I met someone this past week who insisted that the King James Bible is the only legitimate version available. As far as he was concerned, all other Bible versions currently in print, including my New International Version and my New Living Translation Bible, were “not from God”. I don’t care to elaborate on this much except to say that I don’t agree with that at all. But I’m using this example to make the point that there are a lot of “conservative” right-wing nuts like that guy who have some views about the Bible and Christianity that are totally contrary to the Scriptures. If indeed these people’s beliefs are inconsistent with Scripture, then the question becomes – why do religious extremists on the right (and Christianity has them just like the Muslims do) get away with proclaiming what Jesus would or wouldn’t support (such as endless wars)?
The answer is simple: Conservatives have not read the Bible. Of the ones who do, an overwhelming number of “Christians” are astonishingly illiterate when it comes to understanding the Bible. On hot-button social issues, from same-sex marriage to abortion, Biblical passages are invoked without any real understanding of the context or true meaning. What America needs is Christianity without the dogma, and faith without the spiritual pollution of conservative politics. Nondenominational Christianity with the commandments of Jesus Christ being first and foremost, viewed from a liberal or leftist perspective, would be far closer to what Jesus originally taught than the ultra-conservative slant being espoused all over the right-wing media today. That’s why it’s vital as we live in these last days to help the helpless whenever possible. In so doing, we become ambassadors for Christ while living our lives in complete accordance with God’s will.
It’s surprising how little Christians know of what is still the world’s most popular book. The political Right have successfully re-branded liberals who gave away free health care, higher education, and were in favor of redistributing wealth into a white-skinned-only, trickle-down, union-busting conservatives. So how much do secular Americans know of the Book that one-third of the country believes to be literally true (like I do)? Surveys that I pulled up on the Internet show that 60 percent of Christians can’t name more than five of the Ten Commandments; 12 percent of adults think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife; and nearly 50 percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple. A 2013 Gallup poll shows 50 percent of Americans can’t name the first book of the Bible, while roughly 82 percent believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a biblical verse.
So, if Americans get an ‘F’ in the basic fundamentals of the Bible, what hope do they have in knowing what Jesus would say about labor unions, taxes on the rich, universal health care, and food stamps? It becomes easy to spread a lie when no one knows what the truth is. That’s why the Right has successfully re-branded liberals who gave away free healthcare and were pro-redistributing wealth into a white-skinned-only, trickle-down, union-busting conservative.
The truth, whether conservatives like it or not, is not only that Jesus was a meek and mild liberal Jew who spoke softly in parables and metaphors – except when He threw the money changers out of the Temple in Matthew 21, verses 12-13 – but when one reads down a couple more chapters in any of the 4 Gospels, it was the religious conservatives who had Jesus killed. The fact that He rose again on the morning of the third day tells us everything we need to know about Jesus’ view of so-called “conservatives”. The American conservative establishment, however, have morphed Jesus into a muscular, masculine he-man warrior, in much the same way the Nazis did with their “Aryan nation”, as a means of combating “terrorism”, which has become a synonym for American world domination.
Knowing the Bible requires a contextual understanding of authorship, history and interpretation. For instance, when Republicans were justifying their cuts to the food stamp program back in 2013, they quoted the 2nd book of Thessalonians: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” One poll showed that more than 90 percent of Christians believe this New Testament quote is attributed to Jesus. It’s not! This was taken from a letter written by the apostle Paul to his church in Thessalonica back in the 1st century AD. Paul wrote to this specific congregation to remind them that there were too many people in the congregation that were freeloading off that church. Only a few were doing all the work and making the majority of the financial contributions, and everybody else was just hanging around for the free food. What Paul did say is that anyone too lazy to contribute anything shouldn’t expect anything at dinner time, and that’s just common sense.
What often comes as a surprise to your average Sunday wine-and-cracker Christian is the New Testament did not fall from the sky the day Jesus ascended to Heaven. The New Testament is a collection of writings, 27 in total, of which 12 are credited to the authorship of the apostle Paul, four to the Gospels (Luke also wrote Acts), and the balance with the remaining apostles. What we do know about Jesus, at least according to the respective gospels, is that Jesus’ sentiments closely echoed the social and economic policies of the political left in the 21st century. The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount read like the mission statement for the ministry: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is kingdom of heaven,” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” and, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called ‘Sons of the living God’.” Jesus also said, “Judge not, or else you shall be judged, for you who pass judgment do the same things yourselves”, and “Sell what you have and give it to the poor” (I’m paraphrasing here). So, when Republicans accused president Obama of being a Black socialist who wants to redistribute the wealth, they were actually thinking of Jesus Christ.
Biblical illiteracy is what has allowed political conservatives to get away with shaping Jesus into their image. That’s why politicians on the right can get away with saying ‘the Lord commands’ that our healthcare, prisons, schools, retirement, transport, and all the rest should be run by corporations for profit. When the Christian Right believes it’s channeling Jesus when they say ‘it’s immoral for government to tax billionaires to help pay for healthcare, education and the poor’, they’re actually channeling atheism. When Bill O’Reilly claimed the poor are immoral and lazy, that’s not Jesus, it’s atheism! The price this country has paid for Biblical illiteracy is measured by how far we’ve moved toward atheism’s “utopia”. In the past three decades.
We’ve slashed taxes on corporations and the wealthy, destroyed labor unions, deregulated financial markets, eroded public safety nets, and committed to one globalist corporate free-trade agreement after another. With the far-right, Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Koch brothers’ Citizens United, the flow of billions of dollars from anonymous donors to the most reliable voting bloc of the Republican Party — the Christian Right — will continue to perpetuate the Biblical incompatible, anti-government, pro-deregulation-of-business, anti-healthcare-for-all American version of Christianity, and I for one have had more than enough.
Could Revolutions Come In Two’s? In That Case, the Nature of One Would Be Political, While the Nature of the Other Would Be Inequality
by Minister Paul J. Bern
Although I don’t watch much news on television I have, like many of yourselves, become very much aware of the outrage and the indignation of the American people at the state of affairs of the United States of America. We have record unemployment, a flu pandemic, and massive protests in the streets because of police brutality. To top it all off, we have an avalanche of homelessness that gets bigger each day because there are few or no jobs, thanks to the Covid-19 virus. So far this year, the US has seen 41 unarmed men and women killed by the police such as:
John Crawford III
And most recently, Hakim Littleton
There have been many others too numerous to mention. But, thanks to the injustices against all of the above and scores more besides, it is abundantly clear to “we the people” that war has been declared on us by our own government. When I watch the attack of the unmarked cars with the unmarked police looking like poorly paid wannabe mercenaries, I can’t help but look on with a certain amount of apprehension and anticipation, all at once. It is regarding these very things that the Bible says (don’t forget, I’m a preacher first and foremost) in Psalm 9 and verse 9, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble”.
I write today about these repeated clashes that have grown into a kind of cultural resistance not seen since the civil rights protests and anti-war demonstrations of the 1950’s, ’60’s and the early ’70’s. This culture of resistance, which has been building up gradually ever since that time, is beginning to have a noticeable effect as it continues to mushroom. Nothing dramatic or anything like that, just slowly but steadily. There are cracks in the pillars of power, and they’re starting to get a little bigger. It’s up to us to shine the light on the lies and the spins, since the main stream press is being paid very well for not exposing the corruption. The cracks in the pillars of power are what supports the ‘black ops’ and shadow government that has been operating smoothly behind the scenes ever since they killed President John Kennedy to seize power back in 1963. Their all still there, from Kennedy’s assassins on down to the Pentagon, State Dept. and the rest of the military-industrial complex. It is up to us – ‘we the people’ – to uncover the systemic corruption that has been steadily stealing America’s future. I currently feel cautiously optimistic because I have seen this anti-corruption movement continue to build momentum over the years up until today.
Here in Atlanta’s inner city where I live and work, I have perceived what I would describe as a strong sense of suspense in the air. Some people say that they weren’t feeling enough pain to warrant being angry, and that we hadn’t reached the tipping point as of yet. They’re only interested in taking the safe way out. I have had still others tell me that, as a Christian minister, it is not right for a Web pastor to take sides in favor of the protesters, much less write and blog about it, because the protesters are all “breaking the law”. But to those self-appointed critics I will quote the Book of James, where it is written about those in charge who abuse their authority: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay your workman who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.” (James chapter 5, verses 1-6)
There are others, however, who are ready to go on strike, such as what is currently happening throughout our nation’s streets. The folks who barricade themselves in their homes and apartments are gradually becoming outnumbered by those who insist on staying out in the streets and making their extreme displeasure known to those who still presume to be in charge. They have staked out a place in the heart of the monster and held it. Excitement and wonder are seemingly everywhere.
Could ‘we the people’ really take on Wall Street and the lobbyists on Capitol Hill? Obviously Wall Street and the offices on K Street in Washington, DC thought so because they ordered excessive and constant police protection. They must have seen something brewing because Wall Street firms had donated unprecedented millions to the NYPD over the previous year. It was police aggression towards peaceful protesters that grabbed public attention and sympathy. For example, a few weeks after the start of Occupy Wall Street in September of 2011, an amazing 43 percent of Americans supported Occupy, a figure that remains largely undiminished to this day.
Nine years later, the physical encampments are long gone, but the Occupy Movement remains, along with its cousins Black Lives Matter, the ‘99%’ and Anonymous Movements, within the hearts and minds of people worldwide. “Occupy”-ing public space was a tactic, not an end in itself. It was a way to make the issues visible, a place for people to gather, a model for a new way of doing things based on respect, mutual aid and democracy and a demand to reclaim what has been ruthlessly taken. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, there was an expectation that the government would respond appropriately to stabilize the economy and that we simply had to weather the storm. What we saw instead were massive bailouts of the industry that caused the crash and greatly inadequate steps to secure jobs, housing and health care. This turned some already catastrophic financial crises caused by runaway private speculation into an immense source of private gain for the same very financiers responsible for creating the catastrophe to begin with. Even worse, it made those catastrophes so much more catastrophic than they really needed to be in the first place. And all this happened prior to the current epidemic of violence in America’s streets and the apparently casual shootings by police officers of unarmed men (in one of the worst cases, a 12-year-old boy was shot to death by the police in Cleveland, Ohio because he held a toy gun).
As a result of all this mess, we’re not heading toward greater income equality. We’re not opposing social and economic injustice like ‘the 1%’ do, but we’re not building up the poor and middle class, or supporting unionization either. We’re not eradicating poverty and hunger, they are getting worse. We’re not expanding educational opportunity because fewer and fewer people can afford it. We’re not rebuilding infrastructure, and yet it’s falling apart. And, we most certainly aren’t doing anywhere nearly enough to improve race relations.
Nothing we’re doing looks anything like the society we built from the New Deal through the 1970s. We’re not doing any of the things that would lead to a more stable and just economy. In fact, we’re doing just the opposite, which means the billionaire bailout society will become even more firmly entrenched. This means that if left unchecked, the trends towards greater inequality and suffering will not only continue, it will accelerate. But the ‘billionaire bailout’ society may have went too far in their exuberance for still more wealth. According to a 2014 Stanford study, “animosity toward the financial sector reached its highest level in 40 years in 2012”. This undoubtedly fueled the Black Lives Matter, Occupy and 99% Movements, and that anger continues to increase to this very day. A majority of Americans believe that not nearly enough was done to prosecute the bankers dating back to at least 2007.
When drowning in so many crises, it is sometimes hard to see above the surface of the water. But the anti-globalization movement and its offspring, the Black Lives Matter, Anonymous, Occupy and “the 99%” movements, are having a noticeable effect (and let’s not omit the Arab Spring of 2011). Since 2000, the World Trade Organization has been unable to advance its agenda and 14 free trade agreements have been stopped by public pressure. Like low-wage workers in the fast food and retail industries, workers must join together to let Congress know that the WTO is not the right path for the US.
It is important to recognize these victories and to build from them. It is also important to remember that we never know how close we are to achieving significant change. The Occupy movement spawned the “Idle No More”, “Workers’ Rights” and ‘Climate Change’ movements. Our eyes are open and we can’t ignore what we now see. We know that it is the plutocratic system, not individual inadequacy, that is causing poverty in America. We know that the $1 trillion given by the Federal Reserve to private banks could have created 20 million desperately-needed jobs. We know that the 400 richest people in the US have more wealth than the GDP of entire countries – like Canada and Mexico, for instance. And we know the names of those who control the wealth and exploit people and the planet for it.
We no longer expect “leaders” to create the change we need. We are all leaders and change depends on our actions and ours alone. Since the system is too dysfunctional to attempt to repair it, the most logical and practical thing to do is replace it. Humankind already has a powerful tool available off the shelf as a basis for launching such a project. It’s called ‘the Internet’, and yet even across the Web we still find cases of inequality due to a lack of Internet access. And yet, computers are gradually getting cheaper, which should have put a sizable dent in this problem. In this instance. We have glaring inequality being shied right through our computer screens.
The culture of resistance necessary to create the kind of world we want to live in is already here. Actions are taking place daily in the US and around the world. You won’t hear about most of them in the mass media. Dairy workers in New York protested their abusive working conditions. Fast food workers and retail clerks from the box stores protested poor wages plus a lack of benefits. Protesters in Vermont, ages 65 to 94, chained themselves to the entrance of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant to demand its immediate closure and Marylander’s protested outside an ‘arms bazaar.’ The Cascadia Forest Defenders scaled the capitol building in Oregon to drop a huge banner to protest clear-cutting. Search them all for yourselves, wise up and join your fellow patriots.
Hard work is being done every day to take on entrenched corporate power and create a new world based on principles such as mutual aid, community, equity, solidarity and democracy. Although we face an uncertain future, we embrace the chaos that defines our times. There is no alternative but to challenge the status quo of ever-increasing debt, shrinking job opportunities and disappearing civil rights. We can’t say what the outcome will be or whether we will live to see the world we hope to create. Perhaps the most important piece of social transformation is not a goal but rather is the process of living in a way that is consistent with our values. We live in the culture of resistance which requires constant nurturing to bend the arc of time towards justice. Resistance is most certainly not futile.
Twenty Four Injustices That The Mainstream Media (still) Won’t Discuss
by Minister Paul J. Bern
During the days of Nazi Germany from the early 1930’s up to the mid-’40’s, there was a branch of the German government called “The Ministry of Propaganda” that dished out a torrent of profane distortions about Jewish people, and later about the progress of the war itself. It was headed by a guy named Joseph Goebbels, who committed suicide at the end of the war rather than face capture, which would surely have been followed by a death sentence at the Nuremberg Trials.
Today in America, we have a similar position within the White House staff that we call the Press Secretary, who can be seen regularly on the evening news. He or she serves the same function, they just have a far more innocuous title than “Propaganda Minister”. This person’s job – and I have noticed regular personnel changes — is to spoon-feed the media the information dujoir of the day. Everybody knows that the media is told what to say and how to say it, and yet there a few protests about it. Frankly, I find this puzzling. So today’s message, in light of the ongoing events involving police shootings of unarmed black men, is my small contribution towards demanding some truth from our news sources. No more US Government propaganda please, uncle Sam, we have all had a belly full already!
For decades, the mainstream media in the United States was accustomed to being able to tell the American people what to think and how to think it. Unfortunately for them, a whole lot of Americans are starting to break free from that paradigm as they begin to think for themselves. The reason can be summed up in two words – information technology. A Gallup survey from 2014 found that over 70 percent of all Americans “have little or no trust” in the mainstream media. More people than ever are realizing that the mainstream media is giving them a very distorted version of the truth (“Truth? You can’t handle the truth!”), and they are increasingly seeking out alternative sources of information.
In the United States today, just 6 giant media corporations control the vast majority of the mainstream media. Those giant media corporations own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many prominent websites. But now, thanks to the Internet, the mainstream media no longer has a complete monopoly on the news. In recent years the “alternative media” has exploded in popularity. People want to hear about, or see the things that the mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about. They want to hear news that is not filtered by corporate bosses and government censors. They are hungry and thirsty for some real truth, and they know that they are not getting it from the mainstream media. Jesus once taught about truthfulness when he said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew chapter 5, verse 6)
If only they knew Jesus as I do. They wouldn’t be hungry and thirsty any more (see scriptural quote just above). But, that’s another sermon by itself so I will keep going for now. But this is also one of the primary reasons why people are doing away with cable TV as I have. It’s not just the money saved from unsubscribing to cable TV, it’s the fact that everybody knows everything they are watching is a load of B.S., and they’re sick and tired of it!
We are watching a media revolution happen, and many in the mainstream media today are totally freaking out about it. In fact, some in the mainstream media have even begun publishing articles that mock the American people for not trusting them. For example, a 2015 CNN article entitled “Still ‘Paranoid’ After All These Years” portrayed Americans that don’t trust the media as paranoid conspiracy theorists that have left rationality behind. Ever have the feeling you’re being lied to by the news media, the authorities, and/or the corporate world? That somebody — or something — is out to get you? You’re not alone. Welcome to 21st century America.
Look around. Trust is hitting historic lows. Less than 15% of Americans have a favorable view of the federal government, a decline of 31% since 2002, according to the Pew Center for People and the Press. Gallup has Congress’ approval rating down in the low teens, after nearing single digits in the summer of 2013. And the news media aren’t much better off. “Negative opinions about the performance of news organizations now equal or surpass all-time highs on nine of 12 core measures the Pew Research Center has been tracking since 1985,” a Pew report said last summer. The article went on to make it sound like it is very irrational not to trust the media, but in this day and age it is imperative that we all learn to think for ourselves. Blindly trusting someone else to do your thinking for you (done usually out of laziness) is very, very dangerous.
Anyone who does not acknowledge that the mainstream media has an agenda is either not being honest with themselves, or they are complicit with the powers that control it. The mainstream media presents a view of the world that is very favorable to their big corporate owners and the big corporations that spend billions of dollars to advertise on their networks. The mainstream media is the mouthpiece of the ‘establishment’, and the world view being pushed on the big networks is going to be consistent with the economic, financial, political and social goals of that same ‘establishment’. The mainstream media loves to talk about things that fit with that agenda, and they don’t like to talk about things that suggest that there is something wrong with that agenda. And so here are 24 facts that the mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about right now, in no particular order of importance (because they’re ALL important!):
#1) The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that gun sales are absolutely skyrocketing all over America. Revolution, anyone?
#2) They also don’t really want to talk about the fact that disarming the population has resulted in some of the most horrific massacres in human history.
1911 – Turkey disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1915 – 1917 they murdered 1.5 million Turkish Armenians.
1929 – Russia disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1929 – 1953 they murdered 20 million Russians.
1935 – China disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1948 – 1952 they murdered 20 million Chinese.
1938 – Germany disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1939 – 1945 they murdered 15 million Jews.
1956 – Cambodia disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1975 – 1977 they murdered 1 million of its most educated citizens..
1964 – Guatemala disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1964 – 1981 they murdered 100,000 Mayan Indians.
1970 – Uganda disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1971 – 1979 they murdered 300,000 Christians.
#3) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that a bill allowing for the “indefinite military detention of US citizens on American soil” has already been passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by president Obama. Never mind that it’s completely unconstitutional (see the Bill of Rights 4th amendment, among other places in the US Constitution).
#4) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that volcanoes all along the Pacific ocean’s Ring of Fire are roaring to life. It seems like a new eruption is being reported every few days now. In fact, a red alert has been issued for a massive volcano that sits along the border between Chile and Argentina, as well as for the super-volcano at Yellowstone National Park. An eruption there could devastate much of North America, killing millions.
#5) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that the use of genetically engineered seeds has caused an explosion of new “super weeds” that are incredibly difficult for farmers to kill. Wow, thanks Monsanto, for aiding and abetting the destruction of the Earth!
#6) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that renowned trends forecaster Gerald Celente is predicting a “financial disaster” somewhere between September 2020 to as late as 2030, but no later and more likely sooner.
#7) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that it is easier to get into Harvard than it is to get a job as a flight attendant in America today.
#8) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that nearly 400 TSA employees have been fired for stealing from travelers since 2003. Our tax dollars hard at work. Nice.
#9) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that giant corporations such as Amazon and Facebook are funneling gigantic amounts of money through offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands in an effort to avoid taxes. All the while, the IRS looks the other way.
#10) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that the U.S. dollar is in real danger of losing its status as the primary reserve currency of the world. It’s no longer a question of if this might occur, but when. A financial calamity would surely follow. China and Russia are buying up all the world’s gold and silver reserves. What does that tell you about their view of the US dollar? Uh-huh.
#11) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that the mainstream media always keeps track of what the president does, when in actuality they should be doing a much better job keeping track of Wall Street speculators, their bankers, and all their filthy lucre.
#12) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that there are government websites that give immigrants instructions about how to come over to our country illegally and then apply for SNAP benefits while formerly middle class American workers and their children starve for lack of work. Yes, America has always been a nation of immigrants, but never before at the expense of any of its citizens. Something is very wrong here (BTW, I don’t blame the immigrants. They are economic refugees from the third world).
#13) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that the U.S. economy is losing millions of jobs to nations where it is legal to pay workers slave labor wages. Actually, this process has already started in the US as well, due to the fact that no one can live on a minimum wage paycheck. The mainstream media is totally married to the one world economic agenda that their corporate owners make so much money from, and so they say nothing as a steady stream of businesses and jobs continue to leave our country.
#14) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that hunger and poverty are absolutely exploding in the United States while they continue to tell us that the economy is “recovering”. Although the Corona-virus is shouldering most of the blame, it’s actually the fault of the federal government for allowing extreme economic inequality to persist. This is nothing less than a ticking time bomb for the vast majority of us, with the top 1% being the only exception. Meaning, the top 1% will be the main target when the real revolution begins.
#15) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that North Korea now has a three-stage rocket with enough range to potentially hit the western United States.
#16) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that the United States Postal Service is losing 25 million dollars a day and is on the verge of financial collapse.
#17) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that our biggest oil supplier in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, still kills people for changing religions.
#18) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that political correctness has taken over America. The truth is that the media does not see any problem with that at all.
#19) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that nearly half a million employees of the federal government are making more than $100,000 a year.
#20) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that the birth rate in the United States has fallen to an all-time low. The elite are absolutely thrilled that less babies are being born. Fewer of us means less competition for them.
#21) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that violent crime in the United States increased by 18 percent annually since 2014, and that many major U.S. cities are seeing violent crime totally spiral out of control. (think Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and to a somewhat lesser extent in my own hometown of Atlanta.)
#22) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that Barack Obama received more than 99 percent of the vote in more than 100 precincts in Ohio on election day in 2012.
#23) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that during the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. national debt grew by about as much as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.
#24) They don’t really want to talk about the fact that the Federal Reserve created the conditions for the 2008 financial crisis, and their mismanagement of the economy has now brought us to the verge of another horrible economic downturn. According to the mainstream media, the Federal Reserve is “above politics” and should not be criticized. Maybe the Federal Reserve should be nationalized so that printing and coining money returns to the auspices of the US Treasury like our Constitution specifies (See article 1 section 8). All the US top-tier leadership needs to do is return to the original Constitution. It’s the perfect way to wipe out the so-called national debt. Because America’s so-called “national debt” is a boatload of financial B.S.
The Apostle Paul and the 1st Century Corinthian Church
(this is a free excerpt from, “The Social Gospel Series Volume 3” by myself)
1st Corinthians chapter 1, verses 1-17
Today’s Bible study series continues our chronological studies on the writings of the apostle Paul, with a running commentary about the events and the characters that are contained in the story. Today we will begin an in-depth examination of the first Book of Corinthians in the New Testament. This epistle is the first of two letters the apostle Paul wrote to the early church in Corinth, which is a coastal fishing village located in what is modern Greece today. At the time Paul wrote this, he was addressing a few problems with divisions that were occurring there. With that in mind, I will begin at chapter 1 and verse 1.
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes: To the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and ours – grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1st Corinthians 1, verses 1-3)
“...together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Simply put, this means everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus has direct access to the unfathomable peace of God the Father and His only Son Jesus Christ. So if you have been praying a prayer for some peace in your life and an end to turmoil and strife, you can stop right now because you’ve been praying a redundant prayer. God’s eternal peace and the unfathomable love of Jesus Christ are already available to us. All we have to do is ask for it faithfully and with a thankful heart, and we will receive it because God enables us to. Paul then continues:
“I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge – because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any Spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1st Corinthians 1, verses 4-9)
In this passage of Scripture, the apostle Paul continues his theme of all true believers receiving free gifts from God, first through salvation and second through grace. At first Paul is talking about the peace of Christ, which is incomprehensible by human standards (see Philippians chapter 4). But here he also mentions several things that true believers can receive from God if only they will ask with a thankful heart. Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” I can tell you from personal experience that this simple precept works very well when it is properly applied. You should try tat one next time to make your chances for success greater
But Paul then went on to say, “I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.” Grace can be generally defined as undeserved favor from God. So it is easy to see that grace, like peace, is a very desirable gift. But Paul then expounds on that statement by saying, “Therefore you do not lack any Spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” Paul goes on much further into the 1st Book of Corinthians about Spiritual gifts, so I will save that topic for another study. But for now Paul continues and begins to address the needs of the church at that time. He starts out with a plea for peace among the members.
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ’. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanus; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Corinthians 1, verses 10-17)
Does this sound familiar? As you can clearly see, the various denominations of the Church sprang up almost immediately after Pentecost and began competing with each other for members, a behavior that continues to this day. Equally visible is Paul’s consternation over these divisions when he pointedly asks them, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” The same or similar questions could be asked of the Christian churches today. Does the church you attend worship and love God with all its heart, mind, soul and strength? Does it love its neighbor as it loves itself?
Or is there – such as is the case with many churches today – a cult of personality surrounding the pastor that supersedes everything else having to do with worship and church affairs? Another warning sign would be incessant demands for money. If anyone reading this discovers that either of these are the case with the church they are currently attending, leave quietly at or near the end of the service and never go back there. You could be caught up in a cult without realizing it, and this can happen even to seasoned and mature Christians, so flee from these places of “worship”.
In the modern world, organized religion has gone to extremes as far as the divisions currently existing within the church are concerned. In the United States alone there are over 4000 denominations of Christianity. The Catholics preach against the Protestants and the Jews. The Protestants preach against the Catholics and against each other. The Jews don’t have anything to do with much of anybody. In the meantime, the Muslims and the Jews keep threatening to wipe each other out. The Christians and the Muslims don’t get along any better because they can’t seem to stop bombing each other. They can’t even agree on God’s proper name.
As a result, several wars have been fought over Israel, and two more much longer wars have been fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. And now, it looks like yet another war is breaking out in Syria, as if that country needed any more wars. Does anyone who reads this think that God is pleased with us for fighting all these wars over His name? What do they think God will do when His patience with us runs out? When that happens, He will split our land into two here in America – mark my words.
We would serve God a lot better if we all began to unite under the cross of Calvary instead of under a national flag. We would also serve God and each other much better if we stopped the fighting in the Middle East and withdrew from Afghanistan. Think of how much money that would save! We’re talking trillions of dollars here, people! And so, beginning today, let us all begin to learn more tolerance towards each other so we can be more united under the one true God. This is how we can carry out Paul’s command to the church. In so doing, we make his words just as relevant today as they were when they were first written nearly 2,000 years ago. God’s word still matters – indeed, it matters more than ever considering the tumultuous times we live in. So let’s start living by His Word so we can have an enriched and enhanced lifestyle because of it.
The Corona-virus in Biblical Prophecy, and Its Connection To the Demise of Capitalism As We Have Known It
(Revelation chapter 8, verses 11-13; chapter 8, verses 17-24)
Part 10 of 12 by Minister Paul J. Bern
The words ‘corona-virus are on everyone’s lips, and with good reason as it continues to leave a trail of human bodies wherever it goes. Let me cut to the chase right here: This pandemic was prophesied in the Scriptures roughly 1,920 years ago in the Book of Revelation, and I quote: “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore – cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon, spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep, horses and carriages; and the bodies and souls of men…” (Revelation 8, verses 11-13)
What was the prophet (in this case it was the apostle John) writing about here? How about an economic catastrophe that is preceded by a disastrous military defeat? Or could that possibly be the other way around? Or maybe it’s neither one of those. Maybe the casualties of this pandemic will be like none before. Just like in verses 11-13, there will be no one to buy the precious cargo’s of the entire merchant marine, and they will all be sitting at their stations on board their ships, but with a complete absence of trade. I have heard it preached or read on Christian blogs and websites that these verses from the 8th chapter of the Book of Revelation will not be because any country’s or any person’s income gets cut off at the knees. No, I believe the original reason is that this signifies a sudden collapse of our vaunted capitalist economic system. What could do that all by itself? Only a flu bug of such virulence as the Corona-virus could do that, a flu bug that destroys all trade by decimating its workers.
One possible scenario is that the Corona-virus could kill so many people that it could create a labor shortage of such magnitude that volunteers may have be asked to step in and help. Another good thing I see that could emerge from all this toil and trouble is the end of capitalism as we have known it, and with it the debt-based economy combined with the criminalizing of usury (see Nehemiah chapter 5, verses 1-11): All those ‘global’ merchants, together with their diverse wares, goods, and precious stones, and don’t forget the gold and silver, will be collectively put out of business, just as it has been written:
“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all those who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’”
“Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: ‘With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who had been killed on the earth.’” (Revelation 8, verses 17-24).
“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore… “. I could end this commentary right about here and simply say that this is a prediction and a prophecy regarding America for the near future, but that’s only part of the explanation. As I write this, the US still has the world’s largest economy, but it will remain so only up to about 2030, which will be the year that Red China’s economy will overtake and surpass that of the US. At that point, the US dollar will no longer be able to maintain its position as the world’s reserve currency of choice, and the dollar will either have to be devalued or it will suffer a total crash – the likes of which no one has ever seen before (it will make the Great Depression of the 1930’s look like child’s play). This is the first two and the most palatable options for what will happen to the US economy in the next 2 to 3 years.
But what if it’s not just the US that goes belly up? That leads me to the second possible conclusion, which would be a total collapse of Capitalism as an economic system. This would make the above passage of Scripture from Revelation something to be taken symbolically rather than literally. “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all those who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’.”
“The great city” could very well be New York City or Washington, DC. Then again, this could be symbolism for an economic system and not just one city or country – a truly scary possibility. Either scenario would create unimaginable chaos across the US as well as the other Capitalist countries in western Europe and Asia, and let’s not forget Australia while we’re at it. But check out what the apostle John wrote further down: “Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!”
There it is again; the prediction that the US will not only fall, but that she will never rise again, and it will all be over with in just one hour. Of course, there will be some who dismiss this commentary straight out of hand, and they will say, “Who does Pastor Bern think he is? Why, he never even graduated from a seminary!” I will only respond that I have taken this straight out of the Scriptures. My word may be refutable to some, but the Word of God is irrefutable. Be careful that these dire predictions don’t fall from out of the blue and hit you right in the head. There is no substitute for God’s Word, so there can be no argument about that.
“Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you’.” This implies that there will be religious persecution of Christians in America, something that has previously never happened. This is not a drill, this is the real deal. There is one last prophecy that needs to be mentioned here, and it reads as follows: “Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: ‘With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” This can only be explained as a meteor or comet strike upon the earth. There is nothing else that fits this description. So, insofar as this is possible, it must be taken very seriously. Otherwise, like Babylon the Great, America will find herself obliterated.
So there you have it: the United States is in Bible prophecy all right, but not in the way the majority of churches and denominations are anticipating – nowhere near, in point of fact. The time for all of us to get ready for these events – and they will occur, it’s only a question of when – is today, while we still have time and while we still have a choice. So until next week at this same time, keep a close eye on current events globally, particularly in the US and Israel, keep on studying your Bible, and continue to look upward for any sign of our Lord’s return. Shalom!
A Belated New Year’s Resolution for America, Written by a Concerned Citizen
by Minister Paul J. Bern
One of the primary purposes of this Web ministry is to stand against social injustice and economic inequality in all its forms, as well as the extreme immorality of waging warfare. I firmly believe that any minister who does not do these things is only doing half his or her job. In that case, all they would be doing is collecting a paycheck every Sunday morning for the sake of profit and materialism, forgetting that Jesus preached against this very thing over and over again. (But don’t take my word for it, it’s in all four gospels, go and read it for yourself). Anyone who doesn’t have a Bible should visit the “Contact Us” page on my website and ask for one. I will personally send you an Adobe/PDF version free of charge. Don’t forget to include your email address.)
Although Jesus did take His ministry to the religious establishment of his day, which centered around the temple at Jerusalem and the Sanhedrin (or Hebrew ruling elect) of that time, he was rejected and ultimately executed by them just as the Old Testament prophets foretold. Instead, He went to the poor and downtrodden, the outcast and the marginalized who otherwise had no voice at all. He ministered to the sick, the homeless, the addicted and the unemployed and all others who had nothing, with the knowledge that the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ is vastly superior to mere material possessions. I try my best to emulate this mind-set in my ministry and in the people I meet in order that my words and actions may most accurately imitate my Savior and the redeemer of my very soul, Christ Jesus the Lord.
In today’s world there is social injustice and what I call ‘enforced inequality’ everywhere we look. A veritable class war is ongoing here in the USA, throughout the Middle East, in Europe and in Asia that has the wealthy accumulating ridiculous amounts of wealth in a downright obscene orgy of greed, and all at the expense of the middle and working classes who are being economically decimated. The apostle Luke wrote, “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Again in Colossians 3:5 it reads, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” So ‘greed’ becomes synonymous with adultery, and the apostle Peter wrote concerning this, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve” (1st Peter 5: 2).
This ongoing illegal and immoral accumulation of wealth is unparalleled in world history. The signs and indicators of these obscene amounts of wealth that has fallen into the hands of an elite minority are everywhere. Mass unemployment and underemployment are everywhere, and they stand at stubbornly high levels. Now, I’m well aware that the US Labor Department just released figures last month stating that unemployment is at all-time lows. But if we look at the true levels of unemployment, which by definition must include those who are underemployed (working part time at one or more jobs when full-time employment is both desired and required) or those who have left the job market for good (like men and women in their middle 50’s and older such as what I experienced first-hand), the true level of unemployment exceeds 24% in the US alone, not counting the rest of the developed world. Instead of creating more jobs that are the hallmark of any economic recovery, fewer and fewer people are doing more work for less pay. The rest of US and European workers are increasingly finding themselves out in the cold, often literally.
In the meantime, those lucky individuals who still have jobs run the increasing risk of having their jobs out-sourced overseas for pennies on the dollar, or being replaced by workers being imported through H1B work visas to work for wages that are a fraction of their American competitors. Those who are agile enough to avoid either fate will find themselves being replaced by robots and automation in 10 or 15 years. The government has been concealing this from its constituency for decades, but they can’t keep it a secret any longer. One thing is for certain – the centuries-old paradigm of working for money to buy overpriced food, clothing and merchandise is going to have to be replaced. This is simply inevitable. What is also inevitable is that this change will have to come from the bottom up rather than from the top down, since those at the top 2% have proven themselves untrustworthy when it comes to money and finance (because they keep it all for themselves). It will also mean the end of the capitalist economic system as we have known it, and the same goes for the current 2-party political system. Until then, the unending occupation of Afghanistan plus the clandestine wars being waged on every continent are costing the US government $6 billion dollars each day, money that could be much better spent here at home to create some badly needed new jobs.
Clearly this is unsustainable and will bankrupt the country if it isn’t stopped (if we are not there already). American capitalism and the American empire have run their course, and I maintain that capitalism and the American Empire as we have known them are on the deathbed of history where all empires go when they die. America is in decline while the former “third world” has become the developing world, and where even poor countries continue to develop rapidly. The combined economies of China, Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil will overtake the US economy by 2024 at the latest, with China in the lead. This could be ended by creating American jobs through large public works programs to give US infrastructure a badly needed overhaul, and by an accelerated and invigorated space program, mankind’s final frontier. On the other hand, there must be a program in place such as a civilian version of the GI Bill to retrain all the workers who are unable to find jobs, or who would like to change careers. What’s holding that back, you may ask? Let me illustrate why America can easily afford to do this. If the combined US military and intelligence communities set aside the financial expenditures equal to a single day’s cost of the occupation in Afghanistan and put the money into an interest-bearing account of your choice, there would be sufficient funds for a 4-year college education for every school kid in America, from pre-K to a high school senior inclusive. And that’s just from one day’s expenditures!
But what do we have instead? American workers are being thrown away by multinational corporations as being no longer useful or too expensive to keep around, resulting in a wave of homelessness not seen since the 1930’s. The majority of today’s homeless population is college educated, not stereotypical street bums – not by a long shot, and that is a great social injustice. This has been going on for so long now that the American public has become indifferent to it, of that you can be sure. The time to make alternative plans for a possibly rocky future is upon us now. As the Great Recession and its bogus “recovery” grinds on, politicians in most industrial countries have an incentive to make exaggerated claims about the supposed coming economic recovery. Some say the recession is over. President Trump is in the group that claims we’re “on the road to recovery,” while other nations can only spot recovery “on the horizon.” For now, let me sum up the problems of North American companies and their workers along these 7 possible outcomes.
1) Central Banks are Clueless. The usual tricks that U.S. and European central banks use to avoid recessions are long-exhausted. Since cheap money hasn’t been working, the printing presses have been turned up to full throttle, into what the U.S. federal reserve calls quantitative easing – injecting trillions of dollars into the world economy, escalating an emerging trade war while the US dollar loses value in a vicious downward spiral.
2) Trade War. Speaking of which, for a global economy to grow, global cooperation is needed. But in a major recession all countries engage in a bitter struggle to dominate foreign markets so that their own corporations can export. These markets are won by devaluing currencies (accomplished in the U.S. by quantitative easing), installing protectionist measures (so that a nation’s corporations have monopoly dominance over that nation’s consumers), or by war (a risky but highly effective form of market domination).
3) Military War. Foreign war is a good symptom of economic decay. The domination of markets – every inch of them – becomes an issue of life and death importance. Wars have been unleashed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. “Containing” economies like China and “opening” economies like Iran and North Korea become more urgent during a major recession, requiring brute force and creating further global instability in all realms of social life.
4) U.S. Economy at a Virtual Standstill. The most important consumer market in the world, the U.S. is a nation of nearly bankrupt consumers. Here in early 2020 as I write this, well over thirty million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, while further job losses are certain, due to nearly every state’s budget deficits. The New York Times explains: “Now states are bracing for more painful cuts, more layoffs, more tax increases, more battles with public employee unions, more requests to bail out cities. And in the long term, as cities and states try to keep up on their debts, the very nature of government could change as they have less money left over to pay for the services they have long provided.” (12-05-10) Nearly a decade later, it’s still the same old song and dance, it’s just a different tune.
5) Bailout Capitalism. First it was the banks and other corporations that needed bailing out, and now whole nations need much the same. Western nations bailed out their banks by falling into the massive debt that they are now drowning in. Greece and Ireland have been bailed out, with eyes shifting to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. The entire European Union is being called into question as the Euro takes a beating in the bailout spree. If the EU is dismantled, the shock waves will quickly reach other economies.
6) Bailout Repercussions. All western nations — including the U.S. and England — are grappling with their national debts. Rich bond investors are demanding that these countries drastically reduce their deficits, while also demanding that the deficits be reduced on the backs of working families, instead of rich investors. This is tearing the social fabric apart, as working and poor people see their social programs under attack. In Europe mass movements are erupting in France, Spain, Portugal, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, etc. Social stability is a prerequisite for a recovered economy, but corporate politicians everywhere are asking much more than working people are willing to give.
7) The Far Right Emerges. To deal with working people more ruthlessly, the radical right is being unleashed. In normal times these bigots yell furiously but no one listens. But in times of economic crisis they’re given endless airtime on all major media outlets. I remember as a boy growing up on the west side of Cincinnati, all the racist jokes, racial slurs and other bad things my family said about people of color. I despised what they were saying, but I didn’t dare tell my dad or any of my uncles about my true feelings. The message of the far right promotes all the rottenness not yet eradicated by education: racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, violence, and a backward nationalism that fears all things “foreign.”
These core beliefs effectively divide working people so that a concerted campaign against the corporate elite is harder to wage. Meanwhile, labor unions, progressives, and other working class organizations are targeted instead. The above phenomena does not happen in a normal economic cycle of boom and bust. These symptoms point to a larger disease in the international economic system, a disease that cannot be cured by politicians who swear allegiance to this deteriorating system and to the wealthy elite who benefit from it. To ensure that the economic system is changed so that working people benefit, large-scale collective action is necessary, based on demands that unite the majority of working people: a massive job-creation program at the expense of Wall Street, no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a moratorium on home foreclosures, passage of a $14.00 per hour minimum wage, and so on. With the unions in the lead promoting these demands, working people can and should put up a real fight.
The best solution that I can think of, then, that takes care of all this and more, is to come up with an innovative, effective and efficient nonprofit economy. Here are a few examples of what I mean: What’s the underlying cause of the skyrocketing prices of fuel, groceries, college tuition, and medical care including the cost of private health insurance? All of the above industries needed more operating capital to keep going due to rising prices for goods and services that they purchase. But even more basic than that – the least common denominator – is the current corporate business model, where the shareholders needs come first instead of the customers and employees of the firm. More profits must be generated for this cadre of people whose demands for ‘more’ are only exceeded by their self-importance, and this must stop, the sooner the better. But what if this weren’t true? What if the hundreds of billions in profits that each one of these enormous multinational corporations racks up each year were returned to the employees so they, and not the shareholders who don’t do a damn thing anyway, share in the profits? If you multiply 500, the number of Fortune Magazine’s biggest corporations, by all those hundreds of billions in profits they each made, that comes to a sum of money so huge that my calculator won’t display the answer – it doesn’t have enough memory. One thing is for certain; the time for employee-owned businesses has arrived.
If the US wants to clean up its act, a complete repudiation of capitalism and greed would be a very good place to start. Let’s spend this coming week thinking of all the things we could do for each other and the whole world with the money that, as I write this, is still being hoarded by the few. Let’s invent fair and equitable ways we can peacefully distribute it to the many. And next week I’ll be back with part 2 of this series on the End Times.
This is part 2 of a 7 part series about the United States’ presence in Biblical prophecy, particularly with respect to present-day America, and the ramifications that will ensue.
America Is Being Conquered One Person At a Time
by Minister Paul J. Bern (Revelation 18, verses 8-10)
Based on a good bit of observation conducted for a long period of time, it has come to my attention that the US is in large part an utterly clueless nation. The Bible says, “The people perish for a lack of knowledge”, and it’s interesting that many seem to be doing just that during what is purported to be the information age. An alarming number of people appear to be dying of terminal ignorance, and the root cause can be traced to the American shadow government that operates from behind Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. When a country’s “leaders” spend 50+ years “dumbing down” America’s schools, this is the result we get. Everybody has their eyes glued to video screens both small and large, or they’re walking around with earphones in their ears listening to music that tunes out everything and everybody else.
As a result, a fairly large majority of people are consciously disconnected from the world around them. It’s as if everyone is saying – but not verbally – “I don’t want to know how bad it’s getting. Just let me go to work and collect my check every week while leaving all else alone, and I’ll be fine.” Or, to put it another way, “I’ve got mine. How are you doing? Oh, gee, that’s too bad.” Jesus said, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand”. Although those words were uttered 2,000 years ago, they are very descriptive of the US today.
America has two separate but directly related problems that are ongoing. They both have to do with an unofficial invasion, one from without and one from within. On one hand, there is a relatively small but rapidly growing minority of Americans, mainly young people, who are being recruited over the Internet to join Islamic fighters in the Middle East. After being radicalized and trained, they are brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers, some for the army of ISIS, others for militant groups like Hamas or Hezbollah, and some who come back to the US while awaiting their marching orders.
The same thing has been happening in Europe and Great Britain, but for a longer period of time. After European recruits return home following their training, they become sleeper cells waiting for their moment to strike. At least two such attacks have already been carried out as I write this. So goes Europe, so goes America. The American teens sneaking out of the country now will be returning, many within weeks or months, to serve as Islamic sleeper cells right here in the USA. Terrorist attacks that could make 9-11 look like child’s play will soon follow, and undoubtedly at a time when we least expect it.
The second and most significant problem America has with organized infiltration has to do with China. As you probably know, if a foreign national such as a Mexican woman travels to the US and gives birth, the baby born in the US is automatically an American citizen by law. A ‘baby tourist’ industry has sprung up because of this law, but up until about 10 years ago most babies born here to foreign mothers were from Mexico or Central America. But for the last 5-10 years or more, the first-place crown for countries with the most foreign-born babies isn’t Mexico any more, it’s China. Why would Chinese women want to have a baby in a country so far away from their homeland? It’s not so much because of the women as it is their government, and its root cause is money – or more accurately, debt. The US has a national debt of over $23 trillion dollars, which is 23 with 23 zero’s after it, and that’s plus interest that continues to add up even as I write this. The one country who holds the majority of this debt is China. Needless to say, the US government, or more accurately the Federal Reserve, can not physically print the money fast enough to pay the debt off no matter how hard they run their printing presses. So, America is insolvent, the government in Washington knows it, and China knows it too.
But, trying to foreclose on part or all of America’s debt could be tricky, with serious military as well as economic implications. So, China appears to be taking a pragmatic kind of approach – they’re going to invade America one person at a time. All they have to do is keep right on doing what they have done for the last ten years or more – sponsor the births of whole armies of American-born Chinese children and bring them back home to raise them. Once they’re of age, they can simply emigrate to America legally and flood the country with Chinese expatriates. Why invade America when China can simply emigrate its invasion force and have them legally buy up everything in sight for pennies on the dollar? And yet the majority of Americans either refuse to see this because they can’t or won’t deal with it, or they are so wrapped up in their digital cocoons that they don’t care. By the time they realize what’s been happening, it will already be too late for them.
To me, the worst thing of all is that the churches aren’t addressing the issue from the pulpit. Why aren’t more US churches warning their congregations? I think it’s because the church leaders are resting on their laurels instead of sounding the alarm! All pastors who did not practice their due diligence while leading their flocks will be left behind at the rapture of the church. That’s not my opinion, that’s a prophecy!
America, the giant of the 20th century, will go out with barely a whimper in the 21st century unless drastic change happens fast. It’s all foretold in Revelation chapter 18, where it is written, “Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning, famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn for her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry ‘Woe! Woe! Woe, oh great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’” (Rev. 18, verses 8-10) The “great city” is most likely New York, or possibly Washington, DC, there’s no way to tell with certainty.
But the reason the US political and monetary systems are broken is because of all the dirty corporate money in politics, and you can be sure that God is incensed with all the corruption in our nation’s capital. Do our nation’s leaders think they can hide their activities from God? So, change cannot come from within because the same groups of people are being re-elected. This proves the election system itself is broken, and in some cases they are rigged, or both. To borrow a phrase, change will have to come from the bottom up instead of from the top down. Change from the top down can’t work when the system is rigged in favor of the top 1% of America’s economic pecking order. So it will have to take place as a large-scale grassroots movement of the American people from all over this land. The only question remaining is whether the coming revolt will be peaceful or otherwise.